Worship– Discipline 2014-17
Why do you it is good to go to church and Worship?
It is a chance to break into the “glory of God’s presence” or even better, to be invaded by the Shekinah of God. God actively seeks worshipers. Jesus declares, “The true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him” (John 4: 23). It is God who seeks, draws, persuades. Worship is the human response to the divine initiative. God is the initiator and wants to restore and maintain fellowship with His children.
Therefore, Worship is OUR response to the overtures of love from the heart of the Father, and we can have the entire best liturgy, but we have not worshiped the Lord until the Spirit touches spirit. Until God touches and frees our spirit we cannot enter this realm. Singing, praying, praising all may lead to worship, but worship is more than any of them. Our spirit must be ignited by the divine fire.
Is there a special or correct way to Worship?
We need not be overly concerned with the question of a correct form for worship. The issue of high liturgy or low liturgy, this form or that form is peripheral rather than central. We are encouraged in this perception when we realize that nowhere does the New Testament prescribe a particular form for worship. So, when a Pastor worships during the service it is NOT the form, but the spirit that is important, for when Spirit touches spirit the issue of forms is wholly secondary.
The forms are not the worship; they only lead us into the worship. We are free in Christ to use whatever forms will enhance our worship, and if any form hinders us from experiencing the living Christ— too bad for the form.
The Priority of Worship
The divine priority is worship first, service second. Our lives are to be punctuated with praise, thanksgiving, and adoration. Service flows out of worship. Service as a substitute for worship is idolatry. Activity is the enemy of adoration, therefore we worship. Simple!? If we long to go where God is going and do what God is doing, we will move into deeper, more authentic worship.
Preparation for Worship
A striking feature of worship in the Bible is that people gathered in what we could only call a “holy expectancy.” They believed they would actually hear the Kol Yahweh, the voice of God. When more than one or two come into public worship with a holy expectancy, it can change the atmosphere of a room. People who enter harried and distracted are drawn quickly into a sense of the silent Presence. Hearts and minds are lifted upward. The air becomes charged with expectancy.
Here is a practical handle to put on this idea. Live throughout the week as an heir of the kingdom, listening for his voice, obeying his word. Since you have heard his voice throughout the week, you know that you will hear his voice as you gather for public worship. Enter the service ten minutes early. Lift your heart in adoration to the King of glory. Next, lift into the light of Christ the pastor and other worship leaders. Picture the Shekinah of God’s radiance surrounding them. Inwardly release them to speak the truth boldly in the power of the Lord.
Of course, a good place to worship is at church, so there is a commitment of going somewhere else, other than your house, or a place outside with nature. I highly suggest TRYING a church of your choice, with a religion of your choice to practice this Discipline of Worship.
Avenues into Worship
One reason worship should be considered a Spiritual Discipline is because it is an ordered way of acting and living that sets us before God so he can transform us. Although we are only responding to the liberating touch of the Holy Spirit, there are divinely appointed avenues into this realm.
The first avenue into worship is to still all humanly initiated activity. The stilling of “creaturely activity,” as the patriarchs of the inner life called it, is not something to be confined to formal worship services, but is a life-style.
To still the activity of the flesh so that the activity of the Holy Spirit dominates the way we live will affect and inform public worship. Sometimes it will take the form of absolute silence. Certainly it is more fitting to come in reverential silence and awe before the Holy One of eternity than to rush into his Presence with hearts and minds askew and tongues full of words.
Praise is another avenue into worship. The Psalms are the literature of worship and their most prominent feature is praise. “Praise the Lord!” is the shout that reverberates from one end of the Psalter to the other. Singing, shouting, dancing, rejoicing, adoring— all are the language of praise.
Let us consider some of the Steps into Worship
Worship is something we do. Studying the theology of worship and debating the forms of worship are all good, but by themselves they are inadequate. In the final analysis we learn to worship by worshiping.
First, learn to practice the presence of God daily. Really try to follow Paul’s words, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5: 17, KJV). Punctuate every moment with inward whisperings of adoration, praise, and thanksgiving.
Second, have many different experiences of worship. Worship God when you are alone. Have home groups not just for Bible study, but for the very experience of worship itself. Gather little groups of two and three and learn to offer up a sacrifice of praise.
Third, find ways to really prepare for the gathered experience of worship. Prepare on Saturday night by going to bed early, by having an inward experience of examination and confession, by going over the hymns and Scripture passages that will be used on Sunday, by gathering early before the actual worship service and filling the room with the presence of God, by letting go of inner distractions so that you can really participate.
Fourth, have a willingness to be gathered in the power of the Lord. That is, as an individual I must learn to let go of my agenda, of my concern, of my being blessed, of my hearing the word of God. The language of the gathered fellowship is not “I,” but “we.” There is a submission to the ways of God.
Fifth, cultivate holy dependency. Holy dependency means that you are utterly and completely dependent upon God for anything significant to happen. There is inward travail that the evil will weaken and that the good will rise up. You look forward to God acting and moving and teaching and wooing and winning. The work is God’s and not yours.
Sixth, absorb distractions with gratitude. If there is noise or distraction, rather than fussing and fuming about it, learn to take it in and conquer it. If little children are running about, bless them. Thank God that they are alive and that they have energy. Become willing to relax with distractions— they may be a message from the Lord.
Seventh, learn to offer a sacrifice of worship. Many times you will not “feel” like worship. Perhaps you have had so many disappointing experiences in the past that you think it is hardly worth it. There is such a low sense of the power of God. Few people are adequately prepared. But you need to go anyway. You need to offer a sacrifice of worship.
Willard Sperry declares, “Worship is a deliberate and disciplined adventure in reality.” 13 It is not for the timid or comfortable. It involves an opening of ourselves to the adventurous life of the Spirit. It makes all the religious paraphernalia of temples and priests and rites and ceremonies irrelevant. It involves a willingness to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col. 3: 16).
I have taken from the book Celebration of Disciplines by Robert Foster for many of the ideas expressed in this blog. I recommend you’re getting the book and finding out the details of each of the Disciplines and learn….. It is available at Amazon for a reasonable price, either as a hardback or Kindle version.