If you’ve been serving the Lord for a while, you may have noticed that sometimes during worship your mind is not really engaged in what you’re doing. The enemy loves to cause distractions during church, and sometimes those distractions are mental and not physical.
“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 made up only of rules taught by men'” (Isaiah 29:13, NIV 84).
These words are later quoted by Jesus in reference to the Pharisees and their hypocritical spirit (Matthew 15:8, Mark 7:6), but if we’re not careful, we too may slip into heartless worship. We can become so familiar with the order of the service and the words of the songs, that we no longer apply our hearts and minds to worship.
The Heart of Worship
So, what is worship?
Worship can be defined as “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration of a deity.” The Greek word proskuneo means “to fall down or bow down before.” Worship is an attitude of the heart. Reverence and adoration can only be shown if our whole attention is focused on that which we worship. All that we are should be engaged in showing love and honor to the Lord.
“Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name” (Psalm 103:1).
True worship is when our spirit, will, mind, and emotions are engaged in connecting with our God in love and adoration. Worship is simply an expression of love for God.
“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
For our spirits to connect with the Lord in worship, we must be saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. That’s a given. We have to be in agreement with truth, which is the Word of God.
Then our wills must be engaged. God has given us free will. If we are going to worship God, we have to choose to focus on Him and make that time about Him and not anything else.
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me” (Psalm 51:12).
When I first became a Christian, I didn’t have my quiet time on Sunday mornings, because I figured I would get fed at church. Eventually I came to realize that my private worship was just a prelude to the corporate worship there. By spending time with God before church, my heart was already prepared and focused on Him.
If we don’t worship God in private, we probably won’t truly worship Him in public.
Our minds must be focused on God and His character in order to worship Him. We have to discipline our minds and not be distracted by a wandering mind or by what is going on around us.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Philipians 4:8).
We can choose what we think about; therefore, we can choose to focus on God.
Worship is also very emotional. I witnessed a beautiful exchanging of vows this past weekend at a wedding. The groom could barely speak because he was so emotionally overcome by his love for his bride. When we love someone, we express our love with emotion and passion.
When I think of all Jesus has done for me, sometimes I am moved to tears, sometimes I want to shout, sometimes I lift my hands in praise, and sometimes I want to quietly fall on my knees and give him thanks.
“Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD” (Psalm 130:1).
“Come let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song” (Psalm 95:1)
“I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands” (Psalm 63:4).
“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker” (Psalm 95:6).
All We Are
You see, worship involves not just our spirit, our will, our mind, and our heart, but every part of who we are–our eyes, our lips, our hands, and our knees.
In fact, worship has very little to do with church at all and much more to do with whom we worship and who we are. Our very lives should be an expression of worship. Church should just be an opportunity to worship corporately with our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
So as you prepare for worship this week, don’t just go through the motions. Begin with prayer and ask the Lord to focus your heart and mind on Him. Be determined to not allow any distractions to keep you from drawing near to God’s heart and expressing your worship to Him.
Be in a state of prayer throughout the service, asking God to draw your heart near to His and speak to you through the message. Don’t be afraid to worship Him with all that is within you. He gave it all for you and me. The least we can do is worship with our whole being.
After all, if the whole creation was made to worship Him, shouldn’t we?