“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV)
Perhaps I’m only noticing this because of what is happening in my own life, but I’ve recently observed that culturally, we tend to refer to “worship” as basically singing really cool songs that tell God how awesome he is. Don’t get me wrong; I like singing my “I love you Lord” and “You are always faithful” songs… Lately though, it’s been difficult. Something feels like it’s missing in that notion. It feels like that’s all that we do. I may be projecting, though.
Daniel and I recently wrote about our desire to be parents and the strain it puts on both of us. To put things bluntly, my desire to become a mother to a human child is a consuming force that seems to inhabit every fiber of my being—and that’s not an exaggeration. Month after month for over five years, we’ve continually faced the disappointment that we still won’t be parents yet. Every Sunday, I look at the people in our own church family, and I see other people who are also having a difficult time. Some are estranged from loved ones; others are fighting debilitating or life-threatening conditions and diseases. We are a body of broken people at all sorts of stages.
Is God still good? Yes, of course he is! Is he faithful? Duh! But part of my dialogue with God is moaning and groaning and crying out to him. I’ve burned out on thanking him for what he’s done. I haven’t turned my back on the Lord, but I’ve looked for ways to worship that don’t always involve the perceived warm fuzzy songs we sing on Sunday mornings. Nothing is wrong with the “warm fuzzy” Sunday morning songs; please do not misinterpret what I’m saying.
But what if worship isn’t what we’ve decided to make it? I’ve struggled with whether or not I’m still worshipping if I find myself having difficulty singing on Sunday morning. What if worship isn’t just about song but more than that? Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines worship as: “The act of showing respect and love for a god especially by praying with other people who believe in the same god.” According to Merriam-Webster, I certainly worship God (through prayer), and often. What a relief!
King David wrote Psalms to reflect where he was with the Lord at any time. He wrote his worship not only extolling how awesome and wonderful God is, but to help him to cry out and beg for help, for forgiveness, for mercy… even just to be remembered. I was recently at a revival service where Psalm 40 was incorporated into the worship music, and I got incredibly excited, hoping it was an arrangement of the U2 version. I was disappointed when I didn’t get to belt out HOW LONG LORD?!
That’s all that I want to do at this point in my life. To summarize Psalm 40, the lines run a bit like this: “I waited patiently for the Lord: and he inclined to me and heard my cry… I delight to do Your will, O my God: Your Law is within my heart… My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see… Make haste, O Lord, to help me… Since I am afflicted and needy, let the Lord be mindful of me. You are my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God” (NIV).
Ways we can worship God include Praise and Thanksgiving (Ephesians 5:20), Joyful Songs (Psalm 100:1-2), Dancing (2 Samuel 6:12-14), Observing Annual Feast Days (Acts 2:1), Cheerful Help to Others (2 Corinthians 9:7), Using our Spiritual Gifts, e.g., teaching, intercession, hospitality, etc. (1 Corinthians 12:1, 4-7), and Being a Living Sacrifice (Romans 12:1). It’s not all about singing. We are asked to worship God with all that we are.
Right now, I am a desperate and bitter woman who is tired of being reminded on how to be positive. Thankfully, the best way that I have found to worship God are primarily through service. I help teach K-2nd grade on Sundays, I help with cleaning up the coffee and bagels after service, I do my volunteer work at the Genesis Project, I pray long and hard for things that aren’t just about me. When I do find myself singing along on Sunday mornings, I also dance. I can’t contain myself if there’s good music. There are so many ways that we can be worshipful, it’s a shame to see it limited to a song. How else are you worshipping God in your everyday life?
Nicole can be reached via email here. She hopes you enjoy the U2 video linked in this article. The title of this article is, perhaps ironically, from a song, namely Matt Redman’s “The Heart of Worship.”