We need worship. I am convinced that worship is a gift. God does not rely on our worship to prop up his identity or stroke his ego. His glory is all-sufficient (which is why God is so worthy of our praise)!
In moments of rejoicing or times of anxiety, worship is Gods provisional avenue for us, his kids, to have joy and confidence in these days. The invitation to tell-God-how-good-He-is delivers us from self-centered thinking to freedom and joy.
Like Peter, we navigate the stormy waves of our souls by keeping our eyes on Jesus. (Matthew 14)
Worship is the corrective eye-glass that brings His image into focus when our eyes are dimmed and distracted by world-waves: despair, self-entitlement, fear, pride, consumerism, pain, bitterness.
My family and church are entering a season of great potential for these world-waves to cloud our vision. Knowing these next months will tempt me to lose heart, I must proceed with holy intentionality.
I have decided to choose worship over worry, to look at the healer instead of the wound, and to bask in his good light that leads rather than wallow in the valley of shadows. Perhaps you’d like to join me?
Here are some practices to help:
1. Make It Personal: Sometimes as we worship, we need to re-state a verse, a hymn, a song, or other truth that exposes Gods bigness, faithfulness, or goodness in a relatable way to our own souls. When we allow truth to impact with such intimacy, we respond with worship.
In the last few years, I have sung the song “Oceans” a hundred times, at least. I have always appreciated the lyrics, however, only recently have I personally unpacked them. To me, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders” was always about travel and missions. As I sang it recently, I realized that it’s less about “missions” and more about meekness. In other words, “I will submit to what you are doing even when I don’t understand. I will not put boundaries on your plan.”
Contrary to my favorite Instagram accounts, the adventure isn’t in traveling beyond national borders, its in the advent of Jesus presence. When I think about his having come into to my mess to save me, I can’t help the shouts of exuberant gratitude. (Psalm 96 says sing to the Lord a new song!)
2. Go With The Crowd: Recently, Rend Collective delivered a foot stomping worship service that unleashed my inner wild-child [of God]. However, an unthinkable kill-joy snuck in during the concert: a couple who couldn’t be pulled away from their smartphones. They sat directly in front of us, completely disengaged from the atmosphere of joy and adoration. Every 45 seconds their screens changed from Facebook, to candy crush, to email.
Discouraged and distracted, we abandoned our seats to stand closer to the stage where the audience was more engaged. (Ok, it was loud and rowdy and I loved it.) Turns out, expressed enthusiasm to praise Jesus can be contagious. Some of us need to make a move to be near it. (Practice a page from King Davids story in Samuel 6:12-23)
3. Call for Sanctuary: Some of us need the help of spacial and relational quietness to focus in worship. Sometimes, we embrace awkwardness and pour our offering to Jesus in public, like the woman with the perfume in Luke 7. Other times, we take our cue from Jesus himself and “go away to pray.” To be quiet and alone with God can be uncomfortable; however, to be alone with God is sometimes the only way we can truly be available. He can have our undivided attention when we silence the visual and audible noise. This often takes practice, but is so worth it. I am hoping to champion this habit more effectively in my own life this season. (See Luke 5:16 and Mark 1:35)
4. Clean House: Before we can lavish praise and odes of trust to our God, sometimes we need to first convey our doubt. In Christ, we are free, invited even, to express all the hurt, anger, disappointment, anxiety, exhaustion, weariness, confusion, and bitterness. God has proven he is big enough to handle our negativity. Hiding, swallowing, or denying the junky feelings in our souls not only hinders our worship, it inhibits our intimacy with God.
Our Father beckons us to put aside the orphan mentality: the notion that I am acceptable as long as I am presentable. I can’t tell you how many times I catch myself griping before the Lord. I then get annoyed with my tempter tantrum, and assume God feels the same way. But I must remember He is my daddy, and I am his girl. I am safe. My honest feelings are welcome. However, I don’t get stuck here. The emptying of my heart makes room for the filling of His joy. What follows is a natural and organic exaltation of my redeemer. (Psalm 31 displays this practice well)
5. Fake It Till You Make It: Say the words out loud. Raise your hands, or get on your knees. Let your actions convince your feelings, rather than your feelings define your actions. The times I am most likely to raise my hands in worship are often the times I feel most distracted or disengaged. Using nonverbal communication to express adoration, desperation, or surrender to Jesus can help liberate my actual feelings or words to agree. Our posture has power. (See Psalm 95:6-7)
Do you practice focused worship? Share your stories ’round the campfire by commenting below.
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