Do you think of worship as an event to attend? Or do you think of it as an activity to do?
Worship was never meant to be a passive event that we observe and evaluate. Worship is something we do with our hearts and time and lives. When we gather together for worship (we call that “corporate worship”), we learn practices that teach us how to worship on our own through the week (People call this various things, like “quiet time” or “devotional time” or “time with God” or even “coffee with Jesus”).
Here are 8 actions you can take in your personal worship.
1. Praise God for his character (Psalm 150:2)
When was the last time you considered the greatness of God. Psalm 150:2 says to praise God for his acts of power and his surpassing greatness. Have you thought about the powe
rful ways God uploads all creation? Every day provides new opportunities to observe God at work sustaining things and moving creation forward. The amazing works of nature all are God’s handiwork. And every work created by humanity is simply a pale reflection of God’s perfection. So wherever humans have created something that is good or beautiful or true, we find that creation simply reflects God’s power, for God is the author of all goodness, beauty, and truth.
So take a few minutes and list out a few ways you’ve seen God’s power and greatness. Then tell God about how wonderful He is.
2. Come before God with a humble heart (James 4:10)
James says that we should humble ourselves before the Lord, and He will lift us up. What is to to humble ourselves? It is to acknowledge our true nature. Humility is frankly and honestly looking at ourselves – our limitations, our frailties, our gifts, our abilities, our accomplishments, and our failures. Take a long honest searching look at yourself today.
Then stack all that up beside the greatness and the power of God.
Looks pretty small, doesn’t it?
Humbling ourselves means acknowledging our dependence on God for everything that we have – our gifts, our abilities, our resources. It also means acknowledging that God is the provider of all good gifts.
Now here’s the astonishing thing. When we humble ourselves, then God reminds us that He’s in charge of the universe. He takes the burden off our shoulders. We’re freed up to focus on being faithful in the moment, and entrusting the outcomes into God’s hands.
Take a couple of minutes and inventory all you have; and then acknowledge God’s rule over it all.
3. Confess your brokenness and ask for healing (Psalm 51:1-12)
We’ve all done things that are wrong. There’s no point trying to hide it. Hiding it only produces guilt and shame, which gnaw at our minds until we acknowledge our wrongdoing. Confession frees us and enables us to return our attention to the positive things that God calls us to do.
Here’s a key thing- because Jesus suffered and died, he took on all the spiritual penalty for our wrongdoing. There are still material consequences for our actions. If we destroy someone’s property, the property is still destroyed and reparations must be repaid. The spiritual penalty of alienation from God, however, is paid. We no longer face consequences on our own. God will not abandon us.
What’s more, because Jesus rose and ascended, he gives the promise of new life and resurrection. Part of that new life comes now. We can experience some spiritual healing today as he renews our hearts and helps us yearn to do good.
In your worship, remember the things you’ve done wrong today. You don’t have to linger on them in detail. Don’t relive them. Acknowledge them before God. Ask for forgiveness, resolve to make amends as you are able, and commit to filling your heart and mind with good aspirations.
4. Lament to God (Psalm 22:1-2)
“Lament” is an old fashioned word for complaint or crying out. It carries with it the emotional feeling of sorrow and woundedness.
A lot of people don’t think they can bring their heartbreak and their complaints to God. Yet scripture positively commends it. The Psalms are filled with examples of prayers of lamentation. Even Jesus used one of these prayers of lamentation as he suffered on the cross.
In your worship, bring your hurts, disappointments, sufferings, pains, and losses to God. Honestly tell Him how you are feeling.
Don’t be surprised, however, if God shows up suddenly and changes something in your heart. Nearly every psalm of lamentation has a turning point where God shows up and changes the tune from lament to praise.
5. Thank God for blessings (Psalm 147:7)
This is probably the easiest action to grasp. After all, we have a holiday for giving thanks, right? (Or perhaps that is a holiday for turkey and football). Thanksgiving isn’t just for one day, it’s for every day.
So in your worship, take time to think of blessings you have in your life. Make yourself come up with a list. Just thank God for each item as it comes to mind. If you make this one action a daily prayer, your life will be transformed.
6. Lean on the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26)
There are times when you’re so exhausted or emotionally wrung out that you don’t know what to pray. Even then, simply showing up and going through the motions has benefit. It gives us an opportunity to rely on the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:26 promises that when we don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit prays for us. God is pleased simply with our efforts, even when we don’t have the energy to concentrate on our prayers.
In those times of worship when you feel absolutely stuck, simply trust that the Holy Spirit is working on your behalf to make your worship effective.
7. Acknowledge the Lordship of Christ (Philippians 2:9-11)
Perhaps this is blindingly obvious, but a part of worship is acknowledging the Lordship of Christ. Realize this is different from item #1. We worship a triune God – one God, three persons. While God is still one being, each person of the Trinity accomplishes different functions in creation.
Jesus is both fully human and fully God. He is Lord of all and deserves honor. Yet his lordship does not diminish his great humility. This king was a carpenter. Jesus, in his lordship, shows us what it is to be fully human.
In your worship, resolve in your heart to follow Jesus’ lead, to pay attention to Jesus’ teaching, to humbly receive Jesus’ grace, and to prioritize Jesus’ plans in your life.
8. Rest in God’s delight (Psalm 147:10-11)
Remember that you are adopted into the family of God. Yes, God is majestic and grand. God is also quite fond of you. Think of how a parent put’s a toddler’s artwork on the fridge and calls it “precious” or how they hold on to every scrap of childhood memorabilia. That’s because parents delight in their children. That’s exactly how God thinks of you. In fact, God delights in you even more. God takes perfect and pure delight in you.
In worship, you have full permission to relax and enjoy God’s delight. Remember that you bear God’s image, you have dignity, you have gifts you’ve been given. Bask in the joy that comes from knowing that ultimately, God takes great pleasure in you.
There you have it! 8 actions that you can take in worship. I hope this has been helpful. If so, then please sign up for the Horizons of the Possible newsletter – you’ll get a regular dose of inspiration and encouragement in your inbox.
What are some other things you do in worship? I’d love to hear from you.
Soli Deo Gloria