First, let’s talk about the term “worship”. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, one of the definitions of worship (and the one I deem most fitting for our conversation) is: The reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object.
So when you are worshipping is church services or wherever, you are actually demonstrating your reverent love and devotion for God. Whether that be through prayer, offering, psalm, song, dancing, clapping or any of the multitude of manifestations of this joy and delight in God, you are proclaiming the worthiness of God to be revered and loved.
I read something that has deeply influenced my personal worship times, to paraphrase N. T. Wright: “That which you worship is that which you emulate. The more time and focus that you spend worshipping something, the stronger the resemblance.”
I have a friend that was absolutely “ga ga crazy” about John Wayne. He would watch John Wayne movies, read interviews and basically saturate himself with everything about “The Duke”. To make a long story short, after awhile, he began to walk with a laconic swagger which belied his thirteen inch height disadvantage to Wayne’s. He began to speak with a slight drawl, using Texan phrases, and began to smoke cigarettes and cigars which belied his northern California roots. He did not ever become John Wayne, which would have been impossible, but his devotion and reverence for John Wayne certainly influenced his entire being.
When he started wearing a cowboy hat, a “Rooster Cogburn” eye patch, and started commonly using the term “pilgrim” to address friends at socials, we were finally forced to an intervention which included several dozen back-to-back viewings of “Dances with wolves” and “Steel Magnolias”, as well as an exclusive diet of quiche. But, again, I defer.
The point is this, how much more like Christ do we become with each opportunity to worship Him fully? No distractions from, and full connection to, Christ, in which He becomes our “audience of One” results, without exception, in a deeper desire to become like Christ.
So, since the desire of our hearts as disciples is to become more like Jesus with every opportunity, isn’t it silly that we would limit ourselves to one hour on Sunday and two minutes before dinner a day to becoming more like Him through worship? Or to my the original point I made about our purpose:
Why aren’t we making the specific choice to worship Him continuously all for His glory?
Why do so many of us limit our growth like that?…well, as you may have guessed already, I have a theory about that. There are two components which serve as both a facilitator and a limiter to our expressing that devotion:
Environment and the clock.
Most Christian churches have developed a hyper-refined program of corporate worship. Everything about worship time is developed to generate a wonderful ambience and environment specifically designed to ease the transition from the many distractions we face outside the sanctuary. In most worship services I have attended, I almost feel like I’m riding on a greased slide into an experiential sea of reverence and focus. It’s wonderful and amazing, but it also presents a unique challenge to worshipping outside the doors of the sanctuary.
When we are hustling and bustling around, the phone is ringing, it’s time to take the kids to lacrosse practice, the dogs are chewing on the furniture, and the dishwasher, garbage disposal and toilet are carrying on an untranslatable discussion, probably the furthest thing from your mind is to break into a Steven Curtis Chapman song or fall on your knees in utter reverence to God. And therein lies the problem, since we are conditioned to expect an inviting environment for worship, we often reserve ourselves for Sunday.
But is that true to living all for His glory?
In this world, and in our lives, the likelihood that we will ever have the perfect conditions to devote ourselves to worshipping the majesty and holiness of our Creator, barring worship services or having a full sized pipe organ complete with organist in our den, is very, very small. Therefore, we must commit to worshipping God under all conditions without exception. In good times we worship Him, in trials we worship Him, and in the middle of the “bedtime” argument with our kids we worship Him (especially then).
The clock is our other friend and enemy. It is our friend, in that, once a week we don’t have to worry about making time for worship, we have one hour built in. It is our enemy, in that the demands on our time during the week force us to have to make decisions as to how we are going to use the finite resource. So, it is not really an issue of whether we want to worship – we do – it is more an issue of our prioritization of worship over other competing appointments on the Outlook calendar.
It is critical to understand that, as humans, we are in a constant state of worship. We are constantly focused on something, revering something. That is our nature (I promise not break out into the Bob Dylan song, “Ya gotta serve somebody”, if you don’t either).
That being said, every time we make the conscious choice not to worship God, we also make the corollary choice to worship something else, the world. And to wit: “That which we worship is that which we emulate.” There are one hundred and sixty-eight hours in a week, if we limit our worship of God to just one of those hours, then we are worshipping the world with more than ninety-nine percent of our “available” time.
Which will you be more like at the end of each week? Ouch. Let’s remind ourselves of the purpose of our life.
All for His glory
So, how do we overcome the obstacles of environment and the clock in order to worship for fifteen minutes every day (and no, no averaging).
Here are some ideas.
Turn off the TV for the five minutes of commercials near the top of each hour and pray. Sing if you like. Have the whole family join in. I think you will be surprised once you start how, more often than not, the worship break will be joyfully extended and the television will become less important. And consider the the example you will be setting if you have children. Yes, I know, at first they will think life is unfair and maybe hate you a little, but that is the general reaction when people of any age are torn away from worshipping what the world has to offer. Regardless of whether they ever get over that, they will always be able to find something about you that is totally “uncool” by the time they are ten anyway, so suck it up and help them mature in their walk.
Identify an act that you do multiple times in a given day, and have that be a catalyst for a thirty second affirmation of your love and reverence for God. My personal practice has been to offer a short prayer of worship to God every time I log into my computer at work. Yes, it’s only a ten or fifteen second prayer proclaiming God goodness, but I use my login several dozen times a day and it adds up quickly.
If you commute to work, listen to a Christian radio station or listen to part of an inspirational book on tape. When you arrive at work and are parked in the lot (please do not do this while you are driving, ever), pray about what you have heard or sing one of the songs that you have heard out loud and fully focused on God. Ask God to use you for whatever His purpose at work. On the weekends, pray and sing praises as you mow the lawn (with my voice any cover is a blessing for the neighbors).
The key is not to wait for the right time, but to make time, to worship. Essentially, the “W” in WALK should be the easiest element to implement for your thirty day “trial”. Discipleship is a process not an event, like any habit, continuous recognition and application of opportunities to mature Spiritually is the imperative to growth.
And even with fifteen minutes a day the total amount of time spent worshipping only comes out to two and one-half hours a week out of one hundred and sixty-eight hours possible, which still leaves more than ninety-eight percent of the time worshipping something other than God. That still leaves us quite a distance from…