Engaging with worship is something that we all struggle with at some point in our lives, particularly when we are in a bad place or perhaps we have children constantly demanding our attention or work worries on our minds. Perhaps, we simply cannot face God or we just feel distant from our creator! There are a hold range of excuses for not engaging in worship .However, this blog is about how we can embrace more on an intimate level with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Every time, I do not feel like entering into his presence in worship, I miss out. I block myself from hearing his word, I become stubborn, I don’t accept his word. However, when I worship regardless of circumstances, God really fills me with joy and hope. Paul encourages believers to worship whatever the circumstance and he should know, he went through many tough challenges at that time. ‘ Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God’ (Phil 4:6). Paul went through persecution, a ship wreck, a stint in prison and still in his hardship, he managed to find time in prayer and praise to worship God. We see also, that David in the Old Testament saw the importance of praising God in all sorts of tricky situations. In 2 Sam 6:14-16, David danced before the Lord, with all his strength . Wow, can you imagine the scene as the Ark of the Lord was being delivered and it wasn’t just David praising, it was the Israelites too , sounding trumpets and singing. Interesting to note, the daughter of Saul, despised David in her heart. What did she dislike ? What shook her inside ? Was she bitter toward his joy ? We all know people, who do not celebrate in our joy but become jealous and envious. These people , should not rob us of our praises to God, because they have critical spirits. All the glory goes to God, not ourselves. If we are not entering into worship, we are saying that God is not worthy of our praises, and , my credibility is far more worthy . My self- worth would be damaged if I reveal my true praise.
So how can we cultivate worship that is more genuine in our gatherings?
Leaders – Don’t be scared to try out new things – whether that means making space for artwork, movement and dancing of the body , or just praying out loud. People must be given permission to be accepted in their worship to God. Give them an opportunity to do so. Make a space where people can share prophetic pictures or words . Some people are not bold enough to speak out, they need a slot to do so. Please don’t restrict them, otherwise you are cutting them off from the spirit of God, which must move freely. In the past, I attended a church where, if someone in the congregation started a song- everyone else joined in– this demonstrated that the spirit was leading and not being strictly controlled. We must allow God’s spirit to move freely in the places of God, in order to see miracles and signs happening and people giving their lives to Christ. This is a sign of authentic worship.
Worship can encompass a number of different ways to engage with God and it’s not just about belting out our hearts with songs, that we have grown up with! Let’s look at the story of the woman who pours the Alabaster jar of perfume all over Jesus’s feet (Luke 7:37). Many of the people, were critical and scored her, asking ‘ Why did you waste your money and time on such products ?’ . Quite simply put, Jesus understood that her heart and her passion were authentic and she truly adored and loved her most precious saviour. Who can honestly say that we approach God every time with such wonder, awe and absolute compassion ? It is a real challenge to all of us. Personally, I know where my faults lie and that is my unwillingness to admit mistakes and sometimes not being willing to be vulnerable. Worship, however, at it’s heart is being open to the Holy Spirit, breaking down our barriers and truly worshipping at Jesus’ feet. God knows each of our hearts and sees into them! Scary!. This worship, whatever style it is, needs to be genuine, repentant and that is purely between yourself and Jesus. By entering into this worship, you are entering into God’s holy covenant. You are truly engaging in his living presence, leaving all your worries behind and allowing him to mould you into something new. God’s Holy Spirit moves your heart in this time and spurs you on to embrace a new creation within. Worshipping in the spirit, will move you to realise what aspects of your life needs changing or confronting. Moving in the spirit can affirm your unique relationship with him and sometimes God will reveal his heart and truths into your life and others. You gain wisdom through a deeper understanding of how much you are truly loved and valued by your creator God.
The woman in this story, was happy to pour out her praises lavishly onto Jesus’ head. She was generous .This ‘beautiful alabaster jar and nard’ made from the precious stone of Israel was worth more than one year’s wage. Wow! Can you imagine giving up that amount of money, in one go? Jesus quickly rebuked and confronted the critics thoughts. The woman had realised that Jesus was only physically here for a short time and was worth every penny of the perfume. Perhaps, this is a challenge to our everyday lives, that God doesn’t just want our money, but our whole self in worship to him, everyday. It’s easy to give a fraction of money, but its not easy to give over ourselves sacrificially every day to his kingdom. We are given the choice to decide .
Not only that, but Jesus inferred that this was a prophetic sign to everyone that he would die soon. She did not hold back at all, she gave everything she had. She really didn’t care what others thought. She was free of other people’s perceptions and restraints. This freedom empowered her to reveal her deepest emotions to God and gaze in wonder at the one who set her free. Jesus met her, in her place of need. I wonder if we could all journey into this place of worship and vulnerability, we would experience the intimacy that God longs to immerse us in. Just imagine, the inner changes we would experience on a personal and communal sense. We would step out and speak out God’s praises, we would hear words from God that would build each other up, and more importantly we would strengthen our relationship with God through intimate openness.
How can we value worship more in and out of our churches ?
Leading people to a place of worship – we know that there are differences between just a good singer and someone who is passionate about lavishly pouring praise on Jesus’ head. The spirit moves strongly, when a worship leader has passion for Jesus in their heart . He or she knows when to allow others to speak out, or give space for reflection. This person is in tune with the Holy Spirit, majorly. Not just in worship, but in their everyday lives too. The worship reflects their inner sanctuary, of the depths of their relationship with God. Next time, when we enter a place of worship with our creator, whether through praise, prayer, reflection, dance or art, let’s keep our eyes focused on him, remembering we are entering into his holy presence, his secret veil and let’s remove the layers of clothing that are stopping us from entering into his worthy presence. Jesus sacrificed all for us, it’s the least we could do.