I’m not sure if we’re supposed to watch people worship, but I do. In fact I watch my friend Tanisha who has written posts like this… and this. Tanisha is an expressive worshipper, but she sits toward the back holding a baby in one arm with the other arm outstretched. Sometimes she adds a sway… but always a smile. That’s what I like. My sister Tanisha is a happy worshiper.
Sadly, personal worship doesn’t always come naturally and corporate worship can feel forced. Why?
What is worship and what if we’re just not feeling it?
The Frozen Chosen
Today I talked with a teen who said she feels uncomfortable raising her hands in corporate worship because she doesn’t want to be judged or feel judged or self-conscious. In fact the more she expressed her desires, the more I discovered they echo my own. She wants a setting where there is plenty of boisterous participation in singing and worship… but not feel weird. Not forced into some sort of spiritual performance. To come and just let go before God, whether that’s dancing, bowing, or raising our hands without eyebrows being raised or the feeling that they are.
I want that too.
…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. -John 4:21-24
What is worshiping in Spirit and Truth? Well a capitalized “Spirit” would imply with the power of the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Another interpretation of spirit in this context is with our emotion. What is Truth? Once again Truth can be Biblical accuracy… or knowledge of the mind. The crux of the verse is to show us our worship is to be both emotion and theology-driven.
In my study of the word worship I learned in Hebrew and Greek a big part of worship is body language. That’s why there is so much talk in old hymns about kneeling and bowing down. These are expressions of submission. Dancing and the raising of holy hands are joy-filled celebration.
Perhaps in our concern for what others think, our corporate worship isn’t always necessarily biblical worship.
So what is worship anyway?
It depends on who you ask… There are plenty of definitions to go around.
Dictionary.com calls it, “Reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred.”
When we think of worship we most often think of corporate singing, however there are many expressions and types of worship which include serving, obedience, prayer, giving and our personal times with the Lord. It is all practice for Heaven because in heaven we will be worshipping Him perfectly with an attitude of love.
Science Says, “Humans Made to Worship?!”
Worship is something we were designed to do. Dr. Andrew Newberg is a neuroscientist who discovered there are actually differences that happen physically in our brains when we worship. Worship causes our heart rates to slow and it helps us de-stress.
… Religious feeling is not invisible. The common thread among mystical and spiritual practices is that while people are engaged in them, the lobes of their brain can be seen working together to create a powerful emotional experience. They feel that they are being basically overcome by the experience.
Dr. Newberg went on to say:
… It certainly looks like the way the brain is put together makes it very easy for human beings to have religious and spiritual experiences. (Read more on this interesting topic here.)
Prayer and meditation slow down the heart rate and help a person de-stress. Simple rituals like breathing deeply when a person is stressed can improve mental health and help a person cope with the world, even if they are skeptical about whether there’s a divine plan behind it.
Worship is healthy. It was designed by our Creator for us and for His glory.
Do I Have to Worship?
The simple, scary, maybe-too-much-grace answer is, “No. You don’t have to worship.” This side of eternity we have every right to push God away and refuse to worship.
Jesus is a gentleman. The Holy Spirit whispers, He doesn’t yell. Just as you have the freedom to disobey and reap the consequences… you have the freedom to keep your distance from the Lord. Perhaps a better question is when I don’t feel like worshiping, what is going on?
WHY don’t I feel like worshiping: 6 Possible Reasons
- I feel weird and self-conscious raising my hands or really getting deep into worship at church. I don’t know what other people will think.
- I’m in sin. I am afraid of being exposed before God as a fraud.
- I’m suspicious that all that happens on Sunday morning is just a show and I don’t want to get sucked in.
- I’m afraid of not feeling anything. What if I put myself out there in worship and I don’t feel God close?
- I’m angry. Things have not been going well in my life and not worshipping is my way of getting back at God for not making life go the way I want it to.
- I’m bored.
I feel blah… What do I do now?
- Remind yourself how much God loves you. The more you understand how much God loves you, the more you’re going to love him. The Bible says in Ephesians 3:18-19, “May you have the power to understand … how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God” (NLT, second edition).
- Stop filling up on junk food. Proverbs 15:14 says, “A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash.” It is easy to make ourselves busy with technology and simply use it to fill the void. A reason we may have no hunger for God is because we have filled up our time and love tanks on social media likes and comments.
- Make knowing God your number one goal. Happiness is a byproduct of knowing God. Jesus says in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well” (NCV).
- Get into God’s Word. The Bible is food for your soul. “You must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment” (1 Peter 2:2 NLT, second edition). Start to read and pray for the crave to come!
- Appetite is influenced by relationships. If you hang out with people who only care about politics, that’s all you’re going to care about. If you hang out with people who only care about sports, that’s what you’re going to care about. If you hang out with people who are growing in the Lord, it will encourage you in your own faith walk.
Today I feel challenged to get over my fear of expression in worship. Expression should not be limited to certain church styles, but part of the DNA of God’s Church. How is the Lord challenging you in worship?