I used to think that worship was something that was done exclusively in church. I thought it was just another part of Sunday morning – wake up, go to church, worship, listen to a sermon, go home.
Then as I got older, I started to understand what worship actually is. It’s more than just singing along to a song. It’s more than lifting up one or both hands. While we can do both of those in church and in moments of personal, private worship, that’s not it.
What makes it worship is the thought and emotion behind it. Just because words of praise are coming out of my mouth doesn’t mean I’m worshiping God. If I know a song well enough, I can sing every single word perfectly without even thinking about it. Seriously, I can just go on autopilot. My mind could be somewhere completely different and I’d never miss a note. But if I feel overwhelmed by God’s love and my desire is just to honor Him for a moment, that is worship.
Not only can we worship outside of church, but we should. When you think about it, if the only time we feel the need to love and honor God is once or twice a week, something’s off anyway.
When I think about God, it’s not hard for me to be blown away by Him. He’s done so much for me, He’s stuck by me, and He’s head over heels in love with me. To be honest, if anyone has tried and tested God’s love, it’s me. My flimsy faith, my wavering devotion, my questioning, my spiritual mood swings would’ve frustrated any other being to the point of them ditching me. But not God.
You see, I have a desire to worship God when I focus on God.
And what happens when I don’t?
I know we talked about this a lot during the Idols series, but I’m going to touch on it again as it is relevant here and worthy of repeating. The thing about the human heart is that it always feels the need to cling to something. The object that receives most of our attention and affection is what we worship. It could be anything – a sports team, a singer, success, your spouse, your job. Many things make up our personalities and our lives, and that’s great. We should hold the aspects that make us happy close to us. But none of them should mean more to us than God.
Ultimately, nothing can make us happier than God. The love and grace of God goes deeper than something as circumstantial as mere happiness. It’s a source of joy. Joy, at its simplest, is substantial, long-lasting happiness. It isn’t moved by your situation or present state of mind. It’s a sense of peace and contentment that is rather difficult to take away.
Sounds like God’s kind of thing anyway, yeah?
Alan said Sunday, “Unconditional joy leads to unconditional worship.” If the joy we find in God is unconditional – meaning that He is our first and constant source of peace, love, and fulfillment through everything – then we will be able to worship Him no matter what.
If you still turn to God to get you through when you’re:
- battling depression,
- sitting at the bedside of a sick loved one,
- filing for bankruptcy,
- heading to the unemployment office,
- going through a divorce,
- repairing a relationship,
- feeling like your world’s falling apart,
then chances are that you have that unconditional joy and are capable of unconditional worship.
You’ll get down and out. You won’t always be happy with God or what’s going on in your life. Having joy doesn’t always mean that you feel like you’re floating in the clouds. It just means that you have something there to pick you up and hold you when you don’t want to go on anymore.
“Carrie, that’s great, but I don’t really know how to worship. Like, what do I do?”
That’s an important question.
I once read this book by the lead singer of Casting Crowns, Mark Hall. In it, he talked about this woman who would look at him with a mad face when he led worship on Sunday mornings at church. I mean, she would just mean mug him week after week. Then one day after service, after keeping that exact same look on her face during worship, she told him how she was really touched by the music that morning. It kind of shocked him. He never would’ve guessed it based off of her actions and reaction to the music.
Did she sing along? No.
Did she raise a hand? No.
Did she smile? No.
Did she worship? Yes.
It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do. It certainly doesn’t matter how it looks. If you’re not a good dancer but you want to dance, move to your heart’s content. Feel more comfortable standing and clapping? Feel free to do so.
And to worship in your private life? Read the Word of God. Talk to God. Talk about God. Do everything to glorify God. That’s what it means to worship God with your life: realizing it’s all about God and acting on that realization.
Do you like to paint? Play sports? Play an instrument? Write? Whatever it is that you do, reflect God through it and point it all back to Him – the compliments, the awards, the smiles people have on their faces because of it. When you glorify or magnify God in any way, that’s a form of worship.
Your worship is as unique as you are and as personal as your relationship with God is. No one is directly involved in your worship but you and God. It doesn’t matter how or when you worship. All that truly matters is that you do worship and that God is the recipient of your worship.
By Carrie Prevette