I have been thinking about worship a lot these days. Having been "away" from "church" for two years, I don't often get the opportunity to be with a large group of people, singing hymns and worship choruses. This past weekend, however, I was at Write Canada, a national conference for Christian Writers. We did have a time of prayer and "worship" each of the two mornings that I was there. It was a beautiful experience, singing those songs of praise with a guitar or piano accompanying.
Have you ever heard this description of a worship cd: "You will be ushered into the presence of God"? I have heard it, and others that claim to be the "most powerful worship music you have ever heard." We call church buildings "houses of worship". If you ask someone how the church service was, they might say "the message was powerful, but the worship wasn't very good." Once or twice a week, many "worship" bands and leaders get together to "practice" worship. Hmmm. Are we missing the point here?
Of course, we will all agree that worship isn't just about singing on a Sunday morning in a building. And I realize that musicians have to get together to practice their musical gifts, and be prepared for when they have to play in public. And yes, some songs or hymns, by their words and music, do help us to focus more intently on God, and affect our emotions so that we seem to "feel" His presence more. But oh, that can't be all there is to worshipping God!
Brother Lawrence was a monk in the 1600's who wrote a book titled "Practice of the Presence of God." In it he gives instructions and examples of how to have a continual realization and experience of God's presence. He knew that we are always in God's presence, and God is present in His children. He is so right in that. We don't have to conjure God's presence up. If He chooses to manifest His presence to us, then we are doubly blessed. But we have the opportunity, every moment of every day, to be intentionally mindful of God's presence. He is a whisper, a thought, a word away. He knows our every thought, and communicating with Him can be so natural, so real, when we simply believe that He is listening.
We don't have to wait for a Sunday service, we don't have to get the latest and greatest worship cd. Just sit quietly with your Bible open to the Psalms, or any one of hundreds of scriptures that can cause your heart to fill with adoration for our awesome God and Savior. Or when you are laying in bed at night, consider the many ways He has blessed and protected you that day. How He has caused the earth to keep turning for yet another day, breathed life into countless new babies, human and animal, and supported the whole universe, while billions of people were unaware.
We cheat ourselves, and we cheat God, if we limit our times of worship to those regularly scheduled events. Take some time today to be mindful of His presence, and find new ways to offer up a sacrifice of praise to Him.
"My heart is steadfast, O God;
I will sing, I will sing praises, even with my soul.
Awake, harp and lyre;
I will awaken the dawn!
I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the peoples,
And I will sing praises to You among the nations.
For Your lovingkindness is great above the heavens,
And Your truth reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens,
And Your glory above all the earth."