Church goers around the world but especially in the West, have become well trained worshippers. We have every tool at our disposal to make entering into worship easy. From Powerpoint to video productions with words printed larger than life on the screen before us, we rely on so many electronic cues as we are led to the throne of God.
It's so easy. Too easy at times. We can choose to stand there and let others worship for us. We become so accustomed to the ease of it that we forget what we are even doing. We turn our attention to things such as preferences, styles, familiarity, and we forget why we came in the first place!
We came to worship! To worship Jesus! The one who took our place of punishment, took on our shame, the Lamb that was slain, who now stands as the Lion. The one worthy of all that we have to give! We came to bring our praise as an offering before the throne, as we gather with untold numbers to bow before Him and offer whatever we have to give. David knew the truth about the heart of God even in the time of the old covenant, even when no one else was worshipping God the way David was, he somehow knew. "You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings." Psalm 51:16 (NIV)
Some feel as though they deserve applause for rolling out of bed, donning smile-less faces, walking into church only to go through the motions of worship. Their bodies may be sacrificing to stand and offer praise, but their hearts are far from worshipping.
Hosea 6 says,
3 Oh, that we might know the Lord!
Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn
or the coming of rains in early spring.”
6 I want you to show love,[b]
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me[c]
more than I want burnt offerings.
But that's not even the point of this blog! The point is, after we get our hearts right, after we position ourselves to cooperate with the Kingdom, after we are truly ready to hear from the Father's heart in worship, when the words are stripped away. How do we worship when its just the instruments and us? No words on the screen to fall back on, no one prompting us with the right words to say. How do we worship when there are literally no words?
There are seasons we all go through as human beings when we might feel as though we are hidden or invisible. We feel alone "in the valley of the shadow of death". Our emotions are raw and there are no prescribed words on any screen that can match the feeling within us. It is impossible to describe the depth of despair and loneliness at times. Song lyrics fall flat and make the distance between our hearts and God feel further still! What then?
What are some practical tools you can use, to enter deeper into worship when there are no words?
#1. Close your eyes and shut the world out.
The truth is, when Jesus sacrificed His life and died, He had YOU in mind. So get alone with Him. Stand before Jesus, in whatever state you are. Lonely, angry, lost, broken, whatever. Choose to stand before Him and be seen. He acknowledges your pain. He is acquainted with the way you feel. Paul writes in such plain language,
"So then, we must cling in faith to all we know to be true. For we have a magnificent King-Priest, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who rose into the heavenly realm for us, and now sympathizes with us in our frailty. He understands humanity, for as a Man, our magnificent King-Priest was tempted in every way just as we are, and conquered sin." Hebrews 4:14-15 (Passion)
#2 Position yourself before the throne.
"So now we come freely and boldly to where love is enthroned, to receive mercy's kiss and discover grace we urgently need to strengthen us in our time of weakness." Hebrews 4:16 (Passion)
Picture him in your imagination. God gave you your imagination. Use it!
There He is! God, seated on high. Jesus is at His right hand. On a beautiful throne, made of precious gold and whatever you imagine, What does it look like? There are colors we've never seen before on earth.
He is surrounded by thousands upon thousands of angels worshipping before the throne. What are they saying? "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord, God Almighty! Who was and is and is to come!" Add your own words of adoration!
What does is sound like? What does it feel like? What is the melody you hear in His presence? Begin to sing it out. Choose to stay there, in that realm. Put yourself in the picture because the word of God says that you have every right to be there.
Ephesians 2:6 (NIV) "And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,"
#3 Listen. He will speak.
If you have a question, ask! He will respond to you in this most holy, sacred space.
"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.' Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)
Now's your chance. Maybe you ask, "How do you see me?" or "Am I doing a good job?" or "Show me how you love me." Be ready for Him to answer.
Respond to what you see, hear, and feel. Jesus is real and He's right here with you. So do whatever you feel appropriate to you! Get on your knees, cry, shout, sing, run, dance, laugh out loud. This is your moment to communicate heart to heart with your friend and King Jesus! Don't let it pass by unmarked! Even your choice to be silent can be a valid response.
"Then Job answered the Lord: “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth." Job 40:3-4 (NIV)
It is not healthy to simply go through the motions of life on auto pilot forever. Worshipping God is healthy for so many reasons, but one big reason is that it puts you in touch with the reality of how you are feeling and that swings the door open for healing! Healing cannot come to the places where we deny any need of i!
I encourage you to try these four steps the next time you enter into worship. I would love to hear what you experience. He wants to encounter you. Do what it takes to make it happen. I hope this helps you, and I pray you enter into a new freedom in your worship expression to Jesus. I know He will meet you there.