February 13, 2011

A Spirit of Worship


Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
~Psalm 95


But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. G-d is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
~John 4:23-24


Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs
.
Know that the LORD is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations. 
~Psalm 100


We believers are all very familiar with the above Scriptures commanding us to worship the LORD.  And why wouldn't we?  He has known us, loved us, provided for and protected us, even went so far to save our souls from eternal damnation by sacrificing His only Son.  There is more than good reason to praise Him with our every breath.  But what does that look like?  I have some ideas from my own experience that may spark some thoughts, but let's start with a definition.

wor-ship, n., 1. reverent honor and homage paid to (a) god or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred; 2. formal or ceremonious rendering of such honor and homage.

Pretty straightforward, I'd say.  Reverent honor and praise sounds good, but still doesn't pin down what that looks like for me.  Some might say that by disciplining ourselves to worship, both individually and corporately, we are fulfilling the command to worship HaShem.  Committing a specific time (weekly services perhaps) of praise through music, song, and prayers should result in the joy of obedience, as well as the fact that the LORD enabled us to do so in the first place, thus glorifying Him.  I can't say I disagree with this point of view, but it does seem a bit wooden to me.

No doubt that we are obligated to worship the Almighty.  However, when believers have the Ruach HaKodesh filling their very being, how could worship feel so obligatory, even mandatory?  We should have the urgency, the deep heartfelt desire, to praise the One who has done so much for us, causing us to look for every opportunity to do just that.  Singing from our very spirit as an offering of praise, raising hands in surrender and submission, and humbly praying and crying out to Him from our heart results in that overwhelming flood of peace, comfort and love that can only come from the LORD Himself.  And that flood, at times, can elicit emotion and passion that is cleansing and healing in a way that nothing else can.  It is at these times that believers say they can 'truly hear' the words of our Master, speaking directly, giving them hope, help and answers.  Not that He can't speak clearly and pointedly at other times as well, of course, but it is well known that the LORD 'inhabits the praises of His people'.  I completely believe that this is true, as it is written: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me..."John 10:27.  I also believe that He longs for us to praise, worship and glorify Him...to serve Him.  Thus the command to worship, not as an obligation but as an opportunity for communion.  Sacred and holy communion with the One that truly deserves our praise and so much more.

Which brings me to another thought.  In my way of thinking, we also fulfill the command to worship when we serve others in His name.  Bearing one another's burdens, listening, giving, caring, and loving are the way to be His hands and His heart towards all those around us.  I personally derive the greatest joy when I can be the light of Mashiach to someone who is thirsty, hungry or lonely.  I am absolutely addicted to this joy.  Period.  No obligation or burden.  Just worshiping...in spirit and in truth.

"For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me."

Then the righteous will answer Him, "Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?  When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?"

The King will answer and say to them,  "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me."
~Matthew 25:35-40

In thinking about worship, I would be remiss if I didn't give an adequate nod towards those more disciplined than myself in the area of memorizing Scripture, daily Bible reading, morning and evening liturgical prayers, laying on of tefillin, etc.  There is a reason, a good reason, why there are so many different ways believers can choose to worship the LORD.  What speaks to one may not speak to another in the same way.  One may find great comfort in the liturgy, finding it filling their everyday tasks with light and grounding, while others enjoy listening to worship music in their car as they play taxi-service to their children.  Both are good and right...for each of them.  I would absolutely affirm that worship is very personal and the sole property of the worshiper and their G-d, for only He knows our hearts.   I praise the LORD for all ways to worship, whether quiet and conservative or raucous and passionate...and everything in-between, as long as it glorifies Him.

And, in the end that is what it's all about.  Glorifying Him.  In what we say, what we sing, what we pray, what we wear, what we eat and how we live.  In glorifying Him we are somehow edified, sanctified and loved for who we are...which is fallen.  We praise Him because we are commanded to and because we want to honor and revere the One who paid it all for our salvation...so where He is, we can be also.

We praise Him because we love Him; we love Him because He first loved us.
We worship Him because we are His.

And that, I believe, is the true spirit of worship.


"When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart."
~"A Heart For Worship" by Lamar Boschman

"Whenever His people gather and worship Him, G-d promises He will make His presence known in their midst. On the other hand, where G-d's people consistently neglect true spiritual worship, His manifest presence is rarely experienced."
~Ralph Mahoney

"If we are going to worship in Spirit, we must develop a spirit of worship."
~Michael Catt

“An authentic life is the most personal form of worship. Everyday life has become my prayer.”
~Sarah Ban Breathnach

2 comments:

Ari C'rona said...

Amein! Do you have any idea of the feeling I get when I read this? It's a joy coming from deep inside that just can't help but offer Him praise. Tov meod, ha khavri sh'li meod! :o)

batyakatz said...

Likewise, my soul rejoices when I read about my favorite subject--WORSHIP! I can't worship my LORD God enough. Liz, I found your words very liberating, because I am trying to utilize every available opportunity to rejoice in the LORD and to worship Him, so I worship while I'm working on a website, while I'm commuting, while I'm feeding the animals, while I'm pruning fruit trees, or folding clothes. As a result, my worship can look a bit unorthodox.

Reverent passionate soulful worship of the LORD is life altering. It has changed my perspective toward life. I'm much more upbeat and joyful. But it also satisfies in me an aching in the depth of my soul to worship Him.

Worship has also caused me to reflect more deeply about Yeshua's selfless, loving, unfathomable sacrifice that He made for His chosen ones. I am humbled and honored to receive His gift of eternal life, so that I might worship Him for eternity.

I bow down in worship, and honor my LORD, who loves me with a love that is higher than the Heavens.