The Heart of Worship

      I have been thinking about worship and issues relating to worship. I will try to get it all in here, but I am sure I won't. Here are some stream of conscience thoughts.
      Why do I go to the church building to worship? Well, for one the Bible tells me to. I expect to go in there and receive and give there. I want to be encouraged; I hope to encourage. I hope that my praise to God is pleasing to Him through prayer as a group and through song. I expect to take communion and think on the events that day of the cross and my eternal salvation because of that. I also expect to hear a message that will make me examine myself, make me want to improve as a Christian, and possibly learn something I hadn't thought of before. In general, hear a message that will make me think.
      I have learned other things will happen while I am there. Announcements will be made about my fellow believers. Upcoming events. And the inevitable social interaction of fellowship before services begin. OK, enough to start at least.
      I can't rely completely on those people that stand at the front of the congregation to worship for me. I could have the best preacher in the world delivering an outstanding sermon and if I don't think about what he is saying, if I discount that it has nothing to do with me or my life before he starts to speak, it does not benefit me at all or my walk as a child of God.
      I could have the most "enthusiastic" song leader lead the congregation in the most perfectly picked out songs, and if I just mouth the words and not "listen with my heart," I haven't benefitted. All I have done is make the noise louder in the room. My heart has not grown because of a pretty noise coming from my lips.
      I could have heard the most eloquent prayer uttered, and if I don't pay attention and the way I think of it "pray with in my mind," I haven't prayed. In fact I believe I have insulted Jesus.
      I cannot expect anyone around me to make me more spiritually mature. Yes, we can be encouraged by others. But we aren't mature because we know mature people. I don't think on the Day of Judgment, if I am standing in the middle of a group of spiritual giants, my soul can grab hold of those around me and pull me up to heaven. At some point I have to be mature myself. In fact, my baby is a good example of this, he is in a house with people who eat solid food and walk all the time. He has to learn to do this for himself.
      I believe our focus during worship should be on God and not ourselves. And we should try to please God in our worship and not our own desires. Once I was sitting next to a friend in church and we were singing a song that I do not really get excited about singing, to say the least. But it is a wonderfully-worded song, and I don't have a problem singing it. After it was over, my friend said, "That is my favorite song
!!" I thought, oh, the least I can do is sing it with a happy heart. I am not here to please myself, but God and the ones He loves. I think that our focus on God can only make our heart grow in worship.
      I don't know what my point is; I guess I have several. But for one, what I am thinking is no matter what type of atmosphere you are surrounded with in a building, the atmosphere that is most important is the one in your heart. And it takes more than an hour a week in a building or a really good mission trip or a youth group weekend or summer camp. I think it takes the private time, alone, with God daily to change how we feel when we do get together to worship God in a building. Those who don't have a closeness to God the rest of the week won't feel any closer to God when they walk through those doors of the building on a Sunday morning.
      In fact, that should probably be some sort of litmus test to one who leaves and feels empty. Maybe they do depend too much on others for their spiritual happiness. Whether we have a conservative-as-it-comes or as-liberal-as-it-can-be service, there would be people in the same position.

Ann Combs
15 February 2002

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