“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.’ This is the LORD’s declaration.” Isaiah 55:8 (HCSB)
As I sat in an AHOP gathering, I realized that, sadly, what we were doing in that moment would probably seem “boring” to so much of the church these days! We have become so entertainment and performance focused that we have forgotten that worship is not about us! And what we call boring the Lord receives as precious incense! The Lord looks at the heart and not the outside. He is not looking for the perfectly choreographed 3 set song session. What we enjoy, we might find surprising, but most of the time it isn’t the Lord’s favorite. When was the last time you asked the Lord what He wanted in your worship? We so often define a great worship set as one where the sound is just right, the songs were the ones we love and the musicians, especially the worship leader, was spot on! But God doesn’t look at our worship services the same way. We have made worship more about us than Him!
The best way for us to determine what God likes is to look at what is going on around the throne. There He has living creatures crying out “Holy, holy, holy…” day and night, continuously (Revelation 4:8)! God created them to worship this way, so He must like it! Let me just say, that is a lot of repetition!
Or a bit later around the throne we see them, that is the living creatures, the twenty-four elders with millions upon millions angels surrounding the God singing a new song about the Lamb of God being worthy of all praise, honor, glory, power, wealth, strength and wisdom (Revelation 5:13)! Then all of creation joined in. And let me add, it was very loud (Revelation 5:12)! Oh yeah, then those closest to the throne fell down on their faces in worship (Revelation 5:14). So much for just standing there with your hans in your pocket!
Repetition, yep! Singing that same line over and over and over, might be more pleasing to Him than the wordy songs we enjoy! Did you realize that when Jehoshaphat’s army of worshipers marched out against their vast enemy, they sang a simple phase, “Give thanks to the LORD, for His faithful love endures forever” (2 Chronicles 20:21 / HCSB). Some scholars say they sang this phrase for over four hours! FOUR HOURS!!! The result was this vast enemy army annihilated each other, leaving a great amount of plunder!
And what about volume? It was loud! Though our thoughts and mediations upon God are pleasing to Him (Psalm 19:14), it is not our thoughts that please Him in our worship. It is the words that come out of our mouths from a heart that is abandoned to Him. Yes, He likes us doing it wholeheartedly, with passion.
Jesus gave us a hint at what sort of worship God longs for when He said, it’s possible to come to God with all the right words but have hearts that are far from Him (Matthew 15:8-9)! So, it is not just singing songs, or singing them loudly, it is our heart condition that He actually looks at the most!
Jesus also said that the type of worship the Father desires is of Spirit and truth (John 4:24). In other words, He wants our worship to be Biblical, full of His truth and lead by the Holy Spirit!
Around the throne of God worship was all about declaring who He is and His worth. Shouldn’t our worship on earth be as it is in heaven?
“They said with a loud voice: The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” Revelation 5:12 (HCSB)
Btw, it’s not that God wants average musicians with crow like voices leading our worship services! God loves excellence but not perfection. And though God may look at the heart, the sound from the stage can either lead people into God’s presence or distract from it. We need Spirit filled worship leaders who are more concerned about His presence and pleasing Him than the program, or the performance or looking good to the people.
Pride absolutely destroys true worship! Whether it is pride of the musician or worship leader, or anyone on stage, or the people engaging in the worship, or the church leadership. We are told that pride literally repels God from us, while He is attracted to humility (James 4:6).
What God desires is a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17)! The worship He desires is of spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). In other words, He wants our worship to be Holy Spirit infused and Biblical. The worship He desires is about Him and not about what we get out of it! He actually desires to come and dwell in our worship (Psalm 22:3). So, in order to be the type of services He comes to, our gatherings need to be more focused on His presence than our programming, on His name and fame than what we get out of it. It is time to get away from the syrupy songs that make us feel good, to declare who He is and His worth, loudly from humble yet passionate hearts. That’s a tall order in light of so many of today’s church services!
Nevertheless, cry out for God to grant us the grace to establish true worship that He desires to come and manifest His presence in. Ask Him to work in your heart, that you would grow in a deeper place as a worshiper. Pray for your pastor to grow as a God pleasing worshiper. Ask God to bring and move things around in your church’s service to reflect the type of worship that He seeks, not just singing songs, but allowing the songs to flow from the hearts of the worshipers. Cry out to Him for Athens to become a worship center, hosting His presence!!!