How engaged are you during times of gathered worship? If others were to observe you at a service in your church and measure the level of your participation, what would they see? Do you listen attentively to the Word of God when it is read and preached? Do you follow the prayers so you can say “Amen”? Do you join in the singing and add your voice to God’s praise? Take a moment to assess your involvement in worship and ask yourself: Am I an encouragement to others to join in or a distraction that others must overcome?
Our participation in corporate worship begins when we come and gather with God’s people. But worship involves more than just showing up. We are not to come as spectators. We are not to stay on the sidelines. We are to enter fully into worship.
While there are times in worship for us to be still and wait on God, to stand back and see what God will do among us, worship also calls us to action. We read and listen. We ponder and sing. We pray and praise. We see this in the psalms. Look for a moment at Psalm 100. This is one of many passages in Scripture that calls us to worship. Here are five short verses, yet, notice how they are teeming with words of action:
A Psalm for Giving Thanks.
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
(Psalm 100:1-5, ESV)
We are to make a joyful noise to the Lord, serve Him with gladness, come into His presence with singing, and know truths about who He is and who we are. We are to enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts praise. We are to give thanks and bless His name. Because our God is good, and His love and faithfulness are eternal, we are called to action, we are called to worship Him.
Our worship is both an expression of love to God and love to those around us. Others are watching us as we pursue God in worship. Our children see us. Friends and family members see us. Guests see us. And some of those who see us may yet be unbelievers in need of Christ. What are we communicating to those around us by our attitude, actions, and involvement? What are declaring about the value of the gospel, the church, and our relationship with God?
God calls us to love Him with all our heart and soul and mind and strength (Luke 10:27). That encompasses all we are. It includes our attitudes, emotions, countenance, posture, disposition, character, motives, thoughts and actions. And we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. One of the best ways we can love our neighbors (our children, family and friends and others around us) is by loving God first and demonstrating by our lives that there is nothing more important or valuable to us than the grace and love that God has shown us in Christ.
We want our lives to magnify Christ. We want to love Him more and enter more fully into worship. But we cannot love and worship God in our own strength. So as we come we must pray.
As we hear the reading and preaching of God’s Word, we pray that He will grant us listening ears, attentive minds, and submissive lives.
As we sing hymns that confidently declare:
Thou and Thou only first in my heart
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art
We pray that our songs will be more than just words, but true expressions of hearts ruled and indwelt by the Spirit of God.
As we hear the call of the gospel to repent and believe in Jesus, we pray that God will help us live the gospel everyday, turning from sin and fleeing to Christ.
And as we join with others in gathered worship in the church, we pray that God will help us serve together with compassion and forgiveness, that our lives would be an encouragement to others, and that our love for Christ would be made evident to all.
See a Table of Contents (thus far) for this series: Gathered Worship in the House of God
(Scripture quotations are from the Holy BIble, English Standard Version (ESV) ©2001 by Crossway)