I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)
Worship is the rightful response of all that we are to all that God is and does. This response to God, in spirit and in truth, is what makes it possible to know and enjoy fellowship with our Creator, as He created us to do. And by conquering sin, Jesus made it possible for man to worship God freely and directly again. Sin no longer prevents us from approaching Him, worshipping Him and enjoying a deep relationship with Him. We were created and saved to be able to worship Him!
But worshipping God is more than just about attending church services or following a devotional discipline. If we reduce it to this or fixate ourselves on this, we are missing out. It is possible to be faithful in rituals, attendance and even enjoy the “emotional high” of music during worship services, and yet not be worshipping at all.
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6)
God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:24)
God does not insist on rituals, clergy, and buildings when it comes to worship. Of course, used appropriately, these things can help, but they are not necessary for true worship, nor do they define what worship is.
Some of us experience dry, clinical spiritual lives precisely because we rely excessively on such external, routines and “emotional stimulants”. With the sophistication of today’s church programs and services, it is easy to forget that the act of worship is first and foremost an inward one, responding and communing deeply with our God. So how can we cultivate an inner habit of worship?
A simple man who lived in the 17th century, known as “Brother Lawrence”, had useful practical advice. He lived a humble life and is remembered simply for living the reality that we should be worshipping God in all that we do and with all that we are. He suggested that:
- We must “school our souls” to find joy in the companionship of our Creator. We must be in constant conversation with Him. He is with us, within us, always there and within reach. We need not go or look anywhere else, but within each of us.
- We must find moments, as often as we can, to search for God “in the depth of our being”. You can talk to Him, think of Him, dedicate what you are doing to Him, and more. This goes on inside us, and it is just between you and God, nothing else is needed but the reaching out of our inner beings to Him.
- Our every action can and should be acts of communion with God. In everything you do, whether it is work, school, family or play, entreat Him to bless and prosper the work of your hands, and the words of your mouth, for His glory. You can do this while busily engaging in your life’s activity.
Whatever the form, all that is needed is the authentic inner response of our spirits to God. It can be done anytime, in many ways, and in many forms.
Lawrence calls these acts collectively “the practice of the presence of God”. Cultivate these habits, so we may catch a glimpse of what it means to worship continuously. And find life’s deepest fulfillment by communing with our Creator and friend.
By Joseph Leong (YCKC Bulletin 30&31 August 2014)