How many people know why hymns (or any songs) are sung in worship? And more importantly, how many of them are prepared to sing in a way that will delight the Lord?
The outward command to worship comes from God himself, whose very nature demands our praise. The inner compulsion emerges from hearts full of gratitude and love toward God.
God initiated worship. If He had not first revealed Himself to His people throughout history, we would not know who He is, what He has done, or how He is to be worshiped. You see, God acted first. This idea is symbolized in corporate worship when a “worship leader” issues a call from God to worship Him. God is there before the worshipers arrive, waiting to invite them into His presence.
Worship is two-sided. God acts first, then humanity answers. God reveals, then humanity responds. Worship can never be a passive observation of the pastor and choir/praise team. Worshipers are not spectators, but are active participants working in their service of praise.
Worship is an action word. It is an activity that requires preparation, attention, understanding, and exertion. The goal isn’t for us to get something out of it. God is supposed to get something out of the service; songs are to be sung for God’s enjoyment.
Why do you worship?
Someone asked me that question recently and the answer is simple: because people typically don’t make long-term, life-changing decisions right at that moment in a worship service. In my experience most people who come forward are doing so out of a sense of obligation or guilt or emotion only. I believe that the Christian walk is best done in relationship with other Christians and specifically as part of a local church family. That’s why I know 99% of the time beforehand who’s coming up on a given Sunday if I give an “invitation” to confess Christ, recommit your life to Christ, or officially join our church. That doesn’t mean I won’t surprise people at times or be surprised.
So we don’t do the traditional altar calls but depending on the message I do give “invitations.” I just won’t sing 6 songs in order to get people to come forward. If the Holy Spirit isn’t urging them in the first 3 minutes then I don’t think any music or verbal manipulation should be done. Manipulation? Yes, if I really want people to come forward and make a decision, I can get that done. I did it when I first got into ministry. But then I saw the reality of those decisions a week later. Most of those decisions have no accountability and are more like New Year’s resolutions. Few succeed. Many churches have gone to a similar understanding. But that doesn’t mean altar calls are bad or wrong…just memorable. Like this…
What do you think? What’s your experience?
The heart of worship is surrender.
Romans 6:13 (TEV) Give yourselves to God…surrender your whole being to him to be used for righteous purposes.
Surrender has negative connotations because it sounds like we are “giving up” or have “lost.”
Three barriers that block our total surrender to God: fear, pride, and confusion.
We need to answer these three questions:
- Can I trust God? the more you realize how much God loves you, the easier surrender becomes. “Love casts out all fear.”
- Can I admit my limitations? We don’t want to admit we’re just creatures and not in real control.
- What does it really mean to surrender? it’s not passive acceptance but active sacrificing your own wishes and walk for God’s.
Halal is the primary Hebrew word for praise. It’s the word from which we derive the biblical word hallelujah. It’s an exuberant expression of celebration, a word that hints at boasting, raving, or celebrating. It carries with it the notion of acting in a way that is foolish. True halal contemplates laying aside your inhibitions and killing your self-consciousness.
It’s used almost always in the context of corporate worship. In Leviticus it is used to describe the way the people might celebrate a harvest festival. The Psalms are littered with this word. The God of the universe made us to praise Him with abandon, like fun-loving children. Sometimes I wonder if God looks down on us American Christians and sees our ultra-dignified and carefully orchestrated worship experiences and wishes we’d cut loose. That’s how Christians worship throughout the rest of the world.
The first time I saw it as a kid I thought it was strange. While are these people raising their hands while singing in worship? I was a Christ-follower but thought maybe this was strange. Many people still misunderstand it today.
I agree with the sentiments of the great theologian, Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones, who are argues that a dislike of enthusiasm can be “one of the greatest hindrances to revival.”
Yadah is one of the seven words translated in the Old Testament as “praise,” and it’s found over 111 times in Scripture. It is defined as a word meaning “extend hands” or “to throw out the hand,” and it is used to describe the act of shooting an arrow (Jeremiah 50:14) or throwing a stone (Lamentations 3:53). In the context of worship, yadah describes those moments when the Hebrew people were so overcome by the glory of the Lord that their hands shot upward in response.
Since that first experience when I saw others raise their hands I was intrigued with trying it too. Sometimes I feel like doing it but let my worries about what other people think of me become more important than my heart-felt devotion to God. But more often than not I do it and don’t worry about the people around me because their not my audience. God is. It’s a way of demonstrating my surrender to Him in that moment and that like a child raises their hands for a parent to pick them up, so to am I asking for God’s provision of comfort and security.
Many people think worship is an obligation we OWE God. It’s used to motivate people to go to church. God does not need our worship. God is perfectly fine without it But WE NEED to worship. When we worship we are aligned with truth and our souls function well when immersed in truth.
Worship is an invitation BY GOD. Worship is our RESPONSE to what God has done and is doing. Worship is an invitation from a gracious God who bids us to come and enjoy His beauty and goodness.
We do not worship so much as respond.
Worship is not merely a personal matter to inspire the individual. It’s about the transformation of the person WITHIN, BY, and FOR the community of faith, the local church, through the devotion and worship of God almighty. While church worship need not be boring, it is also not designed merely to give us good feelings. While inspiration is a by-product of worship, it is not the central aim of worship.
Worship IS a communal activity meant to instruct a people. We tell our stories, learn our language and find our life in the presence of other Christ-followers. We go to church not to be entertained but to be trained.
Amidst the “Worship Wars” that churches have been going through for over 30 years, let’s be clear that Scripture addresses our question at hand. What kind of music does God like? God likes music with the following components:
- Skill: God does not appreciate poorly written or sloppily performed music (1 Chronicles 25:7; Psalm 33:3).
- Volume: God commands us to shout for joy (Psalm 33:3). What will be the volume level of the mass choir described in Revelation?
- Joy: The Psalmist exhorts us to sing for joy (Psalm 33:1).
- Creativity: The creativity of God is mirrored in the men and women who have ability to create beautiful musical sounds and to use them for praise.
- Participation: Musical praise is not for isolated individuals alone. It is a corporate activity (1 Chronicles 23:5; Colossians 3:16).
- Motivation: This involves the heart of the worshiper. We may have all of the above but if the songs are not offered with love in the heart for Jesus Christ, the exercise is futile.
What kind of music do you think God likes?