I had one of “those” days this week. I had been up later than I should have been the night before trying to finish some projects without enough success to warrant the late night. Then I woke up before 5 am, after just a few hours of sleep, and couldn’t fall back asleep after that. Instead, my mind began to swirl with to-do lists, conversations I needed to have, and the worries of the days and weeks ahead. There wasn’t even anything of great significance that plagued me that morning, but my heart and body just couldn’t rest!
I finally decided the Lord must be calling me to an early morning of prayer and rolled out of bed, quite honestly, for lack of a better option! I wish I could say that time in prayer transformed my anxious heart, but it didn’t. I was so exhausted and felt so unsettled that my hands were actually shaking! It was shaping up to be a long day!
Once my husband woke up, I began to “dump” my burdens on him. Good morning, Sweetheart! 😉 He graciously listened to my ramblings but I could tell he was eager to get ready for work!
I had spent my time in prayer essentially doing the same thing to God as I had done to my husband – dumping! I knew I needed to stop and seek God’s perspective on my situation. It’s what pastor and author Milton Vincent calls, “doing a 360 around the cross.” I needed to put Christ at the center of things – at the center of my heart and the center of my day. So I turned to my go-to perspective-corrector: worship.
“Worship” is one of those words we use frequently in the church. We attend “worship” service. We listen to “worship” music. But in the mind it is easy to make worship all formal and official and sometimes a lot harder to make worship an everyday way of life.
Louie Giglio, pastor to worship leader Chris Tomlin, says, “Worship is our response, both personal and corporate, to God for who He is, and what He has done; expressed in and by the things we say and the way we live.” Our worship is displayed through all we think about, all we say, and all we do. It reveals that which we treasure most in life.
One of my favorite quotes on worship comes from William Temple (1881-1944). William Temple served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1942 until his death in 1944. In Readings in St. John’s Gospel, Temple says, “Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His Beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose– and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin.”
I love that quote for two reasons:
1. It reminds me that worship isn’t just limited to singing hymns and praise songs. Worship is filling our minds with Scripture, it is watching a sunset and praising the Creator, it is acknowledging God’s sovereignty and bending to His will, it is saying “Yes, Lord!”
2. It teaches me that worship is the ultimate remedy for my sinful heart. Temple is right, adoration is as close to selfless as we self-centered human beings can get. Worship takes the focus off of me and off of my trials. It magnifies God and diminishes me.
Let’s take a look at the first idea. Think about the examples Scripture gives us of worship in the Bible. There are so many dimensions to the ways God wants us to acknowledge His worth! He wants us to…
Worship in response to blessing as an expression of gratitude. We have the example of the ten lepers healed by Jesus on His way to Jerusalem in Luke 17:11-19. Only one leper returned to worship Jesus and thank Him.
Worship in difficult circumstances. Look at the story of Paul and Silas in prison from Acts 16:16-40. They have been imprisoned for sharing the Gospel – stripped, beaten, severely flogged and fastened in the stocks in the inner cell. Verse 25 tells us, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” (NIV) That’s the kind of worship called a sacrifice of praise!
Worship in prayer. Jesus gives the best example of this when He taught us how to pray. “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name…” (Matthew 6:9 KJV) When we start our prayers with worship we acknowledge the greatness and holiness of the One to Whom we pray! Only then can we pray with boldness, fervency, and expectancy. I need to know Who my God is and that He is ABLE! Had I begun my time in prayer that morning with worship instead of a laundry list of “Please Lords”, my anxious heart might have been calmed much sooner…
Worship in song. The Bible is full of examples of God being worshipped in song – King David’s psalms, Moses’ song of praise to the Lord after Pharaoh and his armies have been swallowed up in the Red Sea (Exodus 15), and Zechariah’s Song in response to God’s prophesy of the coming Messiah (Luke 1:67-80). One of my favorites is Hannah’s Song in 1 Samuel 2 when we worships the Lord for His gracious gift of a son.
Worship in lifestyle. The way we live our lives in service to the Lord is a major way we worship Him! I think of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who gave herself, body and soul, to be used as an instrument in God’s redemptive plan. In Luke 1, verse 38, Mary says, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Then she goes on to worship the Lord in song in verses 46-55.
Worship in offerings and sacrifice. When we sacrificially give offerings to the Lord, whether that be financial or through the gifts of our time, energy, and resources, we bring Him glory. I love the example of the woman who had “lived a sinful life” who anoints Jesus with her tears and an expensive jar of perfume at Bethany in Luke 7:36-50. “…As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” Jesus praises her for “loving much”!
God created us as worshipful beings. He left a hole in our hearts that only He can fill. There are many earthly things that attempt to steal our worship – money, physical appearances, a career, home, even “good” things like our spouse, children, and ministry. But nothing will satisfy…
“Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.”
(Psalm 73:25-26 NIV)
Sometimes I need to whisper that truth to myself amidst the lies of my circumstances and my own deceitful heart. Don’t you? Maybe you are having one of “those” days or “those” weeks yourself! What do you do to get your eyes off your circumstances and onto the Lord in the midst of times when you don’t naturally feel worshipful?
Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below! You may want to take some time today to look at the passages of scripture I’ve included here and be encouraged by the Heroes of the Faith. Then…go turn up the praise music! 🙂
I’ll be off for a few weeks while the Garibaldis enjoy a much-needed vacation, but when I get back I’ll bring you part 2 of “Filling Your Heart and Home with Worship”. In the second part, I’ll share some practical resources to make worship a natural thing in your heart and your home. You won’t want to miss it!