Depending on our background, personality and spirituality, there are some parts of worship that we enjoy more than others. For some people, they cannot wait to hear the Word of God preached with clarity and conviction. For others, they deeply connect with musical praise that rises in a sanctuary. For others still, they hunger and thirst to be able to partake of the weekly Sacrament. But what is common to all of these enjoyments in worship is that they are acquired tastes, or maybe more accurately, reacquired tastes.
So many years and miles removed from Eden, where humanity had the integrated pleasure of God's Spirit and creation, we have lost much of our enjoyment of worship. We no longer delight in God in the way we were designed to do. We are still able to delight in a meal and drinks at the Yardhouse. The latest movie, tabloid, ball game, romance, concert and family gathering bring us joy and feel like a feast. But for many of us worship can feel more like a yawn than a banquet. Are we missing something? God's Word says the enjoyments of worship including God's presence, God's Word, His people, the Gospel and His Son are inexhaustible. The Bible says they go on forever, always getting better, and they never run out. If this is so, how do we cultivate a deep enjoyment of these things? How do we savor these treasures once more? How do we unlock their eternal riches?
Let me suggest three ways, or rather three rhythms that, if integrated in our lives, will lead us to an ever deepening enjoyment of our weekly feast:
1. Prepare ourselves for worship- And I'm not talking about a fancy hat, or shinned shoes. I'm talking about having times of daily prayer and reading in tune with the calendar of the wider church. This helps our corporate worship get integrated back into our daily lives. You can find Scriptures and liturgies for personal or family prayer at thetrinitymission.org. And as we pray, we pray for our time together, that heaven would touch earth, and that we would be wonderfully changed into Christ's likeness. And wouldn't you know it, God responds to our prayerful preparation.
2. Learn to acknowledge where we are- This is so important. Because we know we are supposed to enjoy worship, we are often out of touch with our true emotional response to our times of worship. If we could check our denial at the door, we could recognize that often we feel bored in worship, or we feel like we don't want to worship, or worse still, we feel completely indifferent. Friends, please don't ignore these emotional signs. They can happen to anyone, and only once we acknowledge them can we begin the process of thawing the spiritual ice. Don't let yourself be
content with a heart that is indifferent toward worship. This is the type of heart God condemns when He says, "You honor me with your lips, but your heart is far from me" (Isa 29:13). Rather, check your heart, and if it is cold toward worship, present it to God, and allow yourself to mourn it. You could pray something like, "Lord, I acknowledge that my heart doesn't want to worship right now. And I know you deserve worship. Please soften my heart, and let me delight to sing your praises again."
3. Present your longing as an act of worship- We can't force feelings. Enjoying worship is a gift from the Lord, and it is cultivated over time. But what we can do, is we can acknowledge our spiritual dryness, and then we can look to God in hope that He will respond to our honest prayers. We can present to Him a heart that wants to enjoy worship. We show up and we give God our longings, just like the Psalmist who says, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God" (Ps 42:1). This action of presenting desire to God honors Him. It shows Him to be the Well of Living Water. It gives Him ample opportunity to fill us, and to form us into people satisfied in the worship of their Maker. It is like a guest sitting down at the dinner table, hungry. This is exactly what God wants for us in worship. He wants us hungry to enjoy the feast. And, in His timing, when He allows us to enjoy our weekly banquet, including a procession for Jesus, the Gospel proclaimed by our pastors, connection with His people, songs of praise, and the sacrament presented with elegance, our last great responsibility is to enjoy the feast! This is your great moral duty in worship that glorifies God as the all satisfying one. Let us keep the Feast.
Author: Cameron Lemons
Reflections from the pastor