The biggest problem I have in worship

I can worship anywhere, and often have. A creekbank, a busy sidewalk, in my car, at the library, anywhere.

I can worship alone or with one or two or with a crowd.

My opinion is that I worship best in a group of God’s people. I sing better and louder, am inspired by the devotion of others, and enjoy hearing God’s preaching more while I’m with the family.

Our Lord Jesus knew we worship better with our brethren than alone. He said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). God’s word reminds us not to “forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is,” but to encourage one another (Hebrews 10:25).

I cannot explain how the Lord is more present when I among a group of believers than otherwise, but there it is.  I’ve found that to be the reality.

I love to worship with the Lord’s family.

And that’s the problem.

Those same people in the room who often bless and inspire my worship may end up as a hindrance to my worship.

–Some may be carrying bad attitudes.  Sometimes, a few are mad at the preacher. Some married couples are angry with each other and have brought that coldness to church with them.  A few husbands were coerced by their wives into coming and their faces are not keeping it a secret.

–Among the rest, not everyone is worshiping. They’ve come for a hundred reasons other than to bow down before the Living God and “give Him the glory due His name.”

–Not all who are entering into the service are inspiring the rest of us to worship.  Some are mumbling the words, some look sad, and some seem distracted.  Focusing on them does not help my worship a bit.

–Not all are even paying attention.  Teenagers are passing notes. Mothers are shushing their children.  Choir members are glancing around the room to see who is present today and who is a no-show. Several are bored.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting back here trying to worship God. I’m on this pew struggling to get my eyes off those people and focus on the Lord, to humble my spirit, to pray for those distracted people, and to take advantage of this hour of worship in God’s house.

I need this hour of worship but many of these lovely people who make up my church family are not helping me.

But perhaps I can help them.

Perhaps if I block out the interference and throw myself into worship they will see and be encouraged to do the same.

Perhaps if I sing energetically my abandon will inspire those around me to sing heartily too.

If I pay attention to the sermon and take notes, maybe others will decide to pay closer attention and get more from it.

Some of the most memorable worship times in my life have taken place in auditoriums of all sizes surrounded by the Lord’s people who are worshiping and loving, singing and giving and praising.  So, I know how life-changing this can be. It’s what the Lord had in mind when He said, “Mary has chosen that one good thing that shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).

Worship is eternal.

As with every other task in the church, however, our biggest problem is the people.

This is why worship is work.

It can even be hard work.

It’s why worship has to be intentional and can never occur accidentally or unintentionally. (Imagine someone coming home from work or a ball game and exclaiming, “Guess what! While I was doing this other thing, I suddenly found myself worshiping. It was quite a surprise.”)

Each of us must decide to worship.

We choose worship.

We make up our minds to worship God in spite of ailments, noise, discomfort, and ten thousand other distractions.

“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25). 

Their circumstances were not exactly conducive to worship.  Paul and Silas had been arrested and threatened, then beaten and locked into stocks in the interior part of the jail.  Their backs were open wounds. They were miserable and in no mood for fun and games.

Their surroundings were not worship-friendly.

The people around them were not welcoming and not participating.

They did not feel like worshiping.

They were not in the mood.

God must have seemed far away from them.

And yet, they worshiped.

They worshiped the living God by faith.

They prayed.  They sang hymns to God.

And the other prisoners were listening to them.  Fascinated, no doubt. How could this be happening, that two men who had received such cruel treatment were praising their God?

And God blessed. He heard them, He sent an angel with a jail-sized earthquake that busted the chains and burst the doors wide open. Then, He saved the jailer and his household.

God showed up when His children worshiped.

What’s keeping you from worshiping today?  Two missionaries in a Philippian cell would be interested in hearing your answer.

When we enter the Lord’s house, one person and one only decides whether you will worship God today.  Regardless of the performance of singers or the beauty of the sermon, regardless of the distractions around you or the ailments within you, you are the one who determines whether you will worship the living God on this day.

Decide to worship, friend.

“Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He has mercy on us” (Psalm 123:1-2)

4 thoughts on “The biggest problem I have in worship

  1. So well stated and unfortunately true. We forget all too often that worship is about Him and not about us.

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