Depending on the type of church you go to, the worship experience can be quite different. Some churches are very loud and boisterous in their worship, which can even lead to shouting and dancing. Other churches, like the one I pastor, can be more reserved, leading to a worship experience that feels more reflective and reverent.
However, the thing that we forget is that worship is something that happens to us, not something we do. Whether we feel anything or not is unimportant, what is important is the only one who can judge worship is the one we worship. For us Christians that person is our Father in Heaven. He alone can judge our worship.
Isaiah 29:13 NIV The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
John 4:23-24 NIV Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
Sounds of Worship
The Bible is a very noisy book.
- Wisdom cries out.
Proverbs 8:1-4 KJV Doth not wisdom cry? And understanding put forth her voice? She standeth in the top of high places, by the way In the places of the paths. She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, At the coming in at the doors. Unto you, O men, I call; And my voice is to the sons of man.
- Loud singing is encouraged.
Psalm 66:8 KJV O bless our God, ye people, And make the voice of his praise to be heard:
- Cymbals clash in praise.
Psalm 150:5 KJV Praise him upon the loud cymbals: Praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Purposes of Worship
1. Worship Invites the Presence of God
One of the things that worship does is it helps to usher in or welcome the presence of God.
Psalm 22:3 KJV But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
The literal translation of this verse is that God sits on the praises of his people. Worship is what sets the stage for that to occur.
There is something that happens when the people of God begin to worship. When you engage in worship, you are telling God that you are desiring to draw near to him. When this happens, not only does God find pleasure in that, but he has promised to draw near to you.
James 4:8 KJV Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
We are also reminded in Hebrews that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.
Hebrews 11:6 KJV But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
When you begin to worship, you get God’s attention and you set the stage for him to show up. If you really want God’s presence to show up or you desire to be in God’s presence, worship is the doorway to make that happen.
2. Worship Settles Your Heart
Have you ever walked into church worried or thinking about all the things that are happening in your life outside of church? Maybe you are thinking about dinner after church. Maybe there is an intense family or job situation that has you deeply concerned. For some people, just getting up and getting everyone dressed and out of the house can be a monumental task. By the time they walk into church they are exhausted, and they need a moment to settle.
One of the things worship can do is to settle your heart and your spirit.
Exodus 33:14 KJV And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.
After all, you came to church to connect with God and worship can give you the opportunity to tune everything else out and put you in a position so that you can connect with God. Without worship, you could sit through a service and never enter in because you never had the opportunity to settle you heart. When this happens, instead of finding that moment to get away and get refreshed, you often leave church the same way you came in.
When you have come in from the outside world, sometimes you are not able to enjoy what God has for you because you have too many things distracting you. When you worship, you can release all those things and position yourself so that you can taste and enjoy what God has to offer you.
Psalm 34:8 KJV O taste and see that the LORD is good: Blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
3. Worship Can Be the Place God Meets You
Every time you go to church there is something God wants to say to you. That something does not always come through the preaching of the word. Sometimes it comes in worship, through the message in the songs.
When you miss worship, you might be missing the reason God had you there in the first place. What worship also does is that it aligns your heart with God’s heart. When you are worshipping God, he becomes the focus, and when you are focused on him then your heart can become aligned with his heart.
Psalm 139:23-24 KJV Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.
Missing worship can cause you to miss this opportunity.
4. Worship Puts You in Position to Receive the Word of God
Worship prepares your heart so that it is ready to receive and respond to the word of God that is preached.
Hosea 10:12 KJV Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.
Without worship, it is possible you can miss what God wants to say and do in your life because you are not ready to receive it. Simply put, your heart is still too hard for the word to have any real impact.
Worship will make you more aware of who God is, but in doing so it makes you more aware of who you are. This can lead to repentance, this can build faith, this can increase joy. All of this is God tilling the soil of your heart so that you are ready to receive the word of God. It is often during the worship that God will position your heart so he can speak to you about things in your life. If you are too distracted or your heart is not ready, then you may not be able to hear what God wants you to hear.
These four purposes of worship are not simply good for church service but also for your personal time with the Lord. Make time for worship so you can position yourself to hear from God.