The Art of Worship

Last night I had the opportunity to attend a worship concert. My husband, Matt, was playing the bass for it and so I reserved one of my favorite babysitters (Thank You Mima) and got to go and be a participant worship. It is actually a rare moment for me right now because I usually have kids hanging on to me in worship.

Interestingly, the worship concert was hosted by a Hispanic church. I knew no one, and very few of them had any idea what the words were to the songs. Nevertheless, as I stood there surrounded by a precious group of people, I felt my spirit soar. The Holy Spirit was speaking to me, and I was singing, laughing, and dancing. For a moment, I was 20 years old again, in university, and finding myself in an amazing move of God. Thirteen years ago when we sang songs like “Let the River Flow,” we weren’t just praying it would happen. We were experiencing it and celebrating the presence of God.

And in the midst of this wonderful personal time of worship last night, I felt myself missing what had been. How much the church has lost in the art of worship. We have wonderful songs today, and wonderful concerts. But we have no idea how to actually worship. We are a generation of spectators rather than participants, and that is why we desperately need to be pastored in worship.

There is something that is in the heart of every man that longs to worship, but that doesn’t mean it comes naturally for everyone. Just as a baby must learn to walk, to talk, and how to respond, we have to learn how to worship. It takes practice to be able to set your pride, your ego, your worries, your fears aside and to press in and encounter the presence of God. He is always waiting, but many of us just don’t know how to get over ourselves to get there.

This is where the role of a worship pastor is so critical. In encouraging those baby steps and being able to recognize the Holy Spirit’s gentle guidance, the pastor is then able to help the believers to recognize what the Holy Spirit is doing. It is so different from just singing songs. As we tune our ears through the practice of worship, we come alive to the Spirit. It is really a “training camp” for our lives. In worship, we fix our eyes on Jesus. We still our hearts to listen for Him. We celebrate Him and chains begin to fall from us. There is a release of the prophetic as our eyes are opened to more than just our circumstances or needs. We sing the songs of our heart and love is rekindled. We sing songs declaring what He has said and our faith is restored. We sing the songs of His nature and we are awakened to who He truly is.

A few years ago there was a song that was popular with the refrain, “I’m coming back to the heart of worship, it’s all about you Jesus”. But as I sit in congregation after congregation where nobody sings, very few even lift their hands, and most just come late to miss worship all together (including the pastor). I think we have forgotten how very much we need to practice the art of worship. Our hearts may be after God, but we need to practice His presence in our lives. We need an amazing restoration of not just why we worship, but how to do it.

My heart longs for this. It longs to once again be surrounded by a people who are not only passionate about our wonderful God, but who have learned how to treasure His presence. The power of unity is staggering and incredible things happen when we come into agreement. And that is what is so incredible about whoship. As we sing the melodies of heaven are hearts come together in one place and in that unity miracles happen. I have had friends who have gotten saved just standing in a worship service and being so impacted by the presence of God that they gave their hearts to Him right there. This is an element of church life that is vital. And it is under a violent attack to dismiss it as insignificant and as just an introduction to the preaching.

The Psalmist David knew how vital worship was. It was wound through His entire life. But he was more than just a song writer, or worshiper. He was a worship pastor and he has been pastoring the nations for thousands of years now. The Psalms are full of exhortations to clap your hand, shout to the Lord, sing a new song, be still and know that He is God, celebrate, dance before the Lord. And when no one else was around, David pastored all of creation in worship, “Let the rocks cry out, let the mountains and the trees break forth, let the oceans roar.” I think we just need a little bit more of David’s abandon to the Lord and we need a lot more help in learning how to do it.

I know that this has nothing in the world to do with budgeting. It is just a desperate cry from my heart to the Lord to restore what I know that He longs to see restored to His church. Many of us are just babies and have never learned how to worship in the first place. Like walking, talking, reading, and writing, it doesn’t just happen. The heart and the potential and the desire are there from our creation, but the expression of worship, and the sensitivity to nurture His presence and follow His dance… this has to be learned.

It is my prayer that God would raise up more and more worship pastors who aren’t seduced by power, fame, arrogance or anything else which can so easily entangle musicians… but rather who have a heart for God’s people and a heart to teach them how to usher in the presence of God.

I’ll be back on topic tomorrow, but thanks for letting me share the passion of my heart for this brief glimmer. I pray that each of you may encounter His presence again and again and that when you “come into His presence with singing” that you will learn to go in quickly.

God bless.