Originally published Wednesday, 31 July 2013.
To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God. ~William Temple
As a little girl, I attended church and Sunday School in the deep south. Each Sunday I donned a smocked dress, tights and leather shoes, topped off with a large matching hair-bow. Today my daughter wears many of the dresses my mother spent countless hours smocking and ironing those many years ago. She plays with the little white patent leather purse which in years past held my tithes, offerings, and chap-stick each Sunday.
Maturity has seen a change in apparel along with a change in my heart as I prepare for service...that is, at least when I purpose to poise my heart for worship.
Addressing a few questions concerning what worship is and why it is important may help us poise our hearts for the most meaningful God-centered worship.
First, worship is a right and exalted view of God and a humbled, dependent view of man on God.
Secondly, worship is important because it opens the door to true intimacy with Christ and clarity of mission we would otherwise live without. Worship does not consist merely of singing. We can worship in various, if not all art forms, in addition to all the work that our hands set to do. Worship is a posture of praise and thanksgiving within our hearts and minds and as expressed through our lives.
The endeavor does not determine the significance of praise, rather it is the hidden thoughts and intents of our hearts. We can sing without love, but it is a clashing symbol or a gong. (1 Corinthians 13) Consider David. God loved David no less when he worshiped Him on a lonely mountainside filled only with dumb sheep and the sound of his own harp than when David sat enthroned in his palace splendor and declared among God's people:
“Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And now, Sovereign LORD, in addition to everything else, you speak of giving your servant a lasting dynasty! Do you deal with everyone this way, O Sovereign LORD?“What more can I say to you? You know what your servant is really like, Sovereign LORD. Because of your promise and according to your will, you have done all these great things and have made them known to your servant. “How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you! (2 Samuel 7:18-22)
Did you notice David's humbled view of himself and his exalted view of God? This from the man who was labeled by God to be a man after His own heart. Perhaps David was a man after God's own heart due to his right understanding of the righteousness of God and the praise that flowed from his heart.
Similarly, in Isaiah 6, Isaiah’s commission comes after he saw the Lord and beheld his glory. His worship of God preceded his obedience to the call of God. Once we see clearly who God is, we realize the absolute imperative of taking the gospel to our neighbor’s, coworkers, and around the globe.
So the question becomes, how can we worship God individually so that we fuel greater worship of God corporately? The answer lies in preparing our hearts for worship all week and the hours before corporate worship.
Below are some bullet points which are taken from chapter eleven of the wonderful book, Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster.
Daily Preparation for Worship:
- Learn to practice the presence of God daily. Pray without ceasing. ( 1 Thessalonians 5:17)
- Have many different experiences of worship: Bible reading, prayers of thanksgiving, meditation on the goodness of God, singing praises, or praising God through various postures of sitting, kneeling, or lying prostrate before God.
- Have a willingness to be gathered in the power of the Lord for the good of “we” not “me.”
- Cultivate Holy Dependency: you are utterly and completely dependent upon God for anything significant to happen.
- Absorb distractions with gratitude. They may be a message from the Lord.
Offer a sacrifice of worship. You may not “feel” like worshiping but go anyway.
- Arrive to service 10 minutes early.
- Quiet your mind.
- Pray for the pastor and worship leader.
- Pray for others who arrive looking burdened.
If worship does not propel us into greater obedience, it has not been worship. To stand before the Holy One of eternity is to change. To worship is to change. (Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, p. 173)
Try to practice the discipline of worship this week. As we do, we will find that our communion with God increases and "the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace." (H. Lemmel)