I recently met with a frustrated father of teenagers. Most Sundays, it was like pulling teeth to get their kids to go to church. So, I asked him if he’d ever sat down and taught his children how to worship?
“Oh sure! I’ve told them how important it is that we worship God, that’s why we go to church,” he answered. “That’s not exactly what I meant,” I said. “Have you taught them how to worship, when they go to church?” Two things were obvious to me; he hadn’t taught his children and he himself was unsure what it meant to truly worship when in church.
So, here are some practical ideas you can pass on to children, grandchildren or those you spiritually mentor. 1. Mentally, view everything you do from the time you enter the church, from God’s perspective only! Worship isn’t going to church! Worship is intentionally focusing your mind and heart on God and the things of God. Ask yourself:
What does he want of me today?
Will he feel adored by me when I leave?
Is my audience truly God, or those around me?
Everything you do from the time you enter the building should be tested against those questions.
“Enter, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord who made us.” Psalm 95:6
2. As soon as you enter church and sit down, pray before anything else Years ago, I had the bad habit of reading the church bulletin as soon as I sat down. Until one day, it dawned on me that I was there to worship, not to catch up on the church news. What message was I sending God? So, I began the habit of beginning my worship by quieting myself before God and praising him silently in prayer. I ask Him to give me spiritual radar for everything he wants me to learn or do and I tell him, “I’m here to worship you my God, my Father, my Savior!”
3. When the choir or worship team sings, try closing your eyes and really lose yourself in worship. For decades as the choir or worship team sang, while I’d pay attention to the words, I was also watching them or looking around the church. My mind wandered. One day it dawned on me that I was not really worshipping. I was being inspired, but not worshipping. I was letting them worship for me!
So, I began the practice of closing my eyes, concentrating on the words singing along silently with them, and imagining God listening to me worshiping him. That changed everything. Now I was worshiping him, not simply watching the choir or worship team do it.
4. Sing directly to God When I sing in church, I often imagine God a dozen feet in front of me, listening. He couldn’t give a rip how well I harmonize or sound to others. He cares only that I mean what I say and that I’m worshipping him alone when I’m singing.
5. Don’t say anything to God in song, that you don’t actually mean. In my book, The 10 Second Rule, I say this, “you just have to wonder what God himself thinks when he hears us singing our hearts out in church. ‘I surrender all,’ knowing full well none of us have any intention of actually surrendering all to him. Singing songs we really don’t mean simply gives us the illusion of surrender.”
So, over the years, I’ve developed the habit of singing to God only what is true, or I want to be true of me. I no longer sing “I surrender all.” I sing “Help me surrender more.” (I’m not worried if my re-wording doesn’t fit the cadence of the song. More importantly, are they true?)
“The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.’” Isaiah 29:13
Pay attention to the words. Do you really mean what you’re telling God?
6. Pray about your gifts and offerings Urge your children to begin regularly giving to the Lord. The best way to do that is for you to explain why you give to the Lord. Why do you give regularly to the church and why to occasionally give to other ministries? Have you had that discussion?
7. Outline the sermon I’m ashamed of how many sermons went in one ear and out the other. I do better if I outline a sermon. In college, we took notes during lectures if we really wanted to retain the information. Your note taking will also tell your children you’re there to learn. And, when I take notes, I find I pay closer attention and retain more.
8. Leave your phone in the car Some of you may use a Bible App on your phone in church. I’d urge you to not do that. Bring a paper Bible. Why?
Tell me you’ve never texted, read email, Facebooked or Instagramed in church. If so, it has to distract from your worship! What do you think God thinks about anything that distracts you and robs him of the worship he deserves? I leave my phone in the car so I’m not even tempted to use it.
9. During the “pastoral prayer,” pray yourself I’ll bet your mind wonders during the pastoral prayer. I know that because my mind often does. So try praying along with your pastor, making his words yours, as you silently mouth what he’s saying. There are times I’ll actually change his words into my own thoughts to personalize this time of corporate prayer. The pastoral prayer should be the church’s prayer to God, not just the pastors prayer for the church.
Summary Most Christians tend to do what they see other Christians do, particularly in the area of worship. Please take some time right now and mentally go through your worship habits every Sunday. How much of what you do is just automatic and thoughtless, versus intentional? What changes are you reasonably certain need to take place to truly worship God?
“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.” John 14:23
Please share with us some worship ideas of your own. Also, forward this blog to your Bible study group and have a discussion about worship.
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