It seems like a silly question, “When should I worship?” In our mind we think “Always!”, but is that how we actually live?
I’m an introvert, not anti-social, I just recharge by being alone and not having to give attention, energy, and effort to anyone. Lately, I’ve felt saturated with people. This is a good thing, but it can be very draining. Some of my kids—one in particular—is very needy and lives life with the pedal on the floor from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed. It is exhausting! With the people parade in my life, and that normal, very demanding… life-event, I can feel empty, drained, and constantly frustrated fairly easily. We worship mostly at home, and there are days where I just don’t feel like it. I’d rather go hide and not worry about reading scripture, sharing thoughts, and singing songs.
It’s natural to worship when we’re happy, or when things are going well. It’s logical and obvious to worship when things are hard and we’re struggling with something. Worship feels neither natural nor obvious when we just feel like we have nothing to give. In fact, it feels justified to skip it if we feel like we’ve got nothing left in the tank. But there’s several truths we forget at times like this:
- Worship isn’t a liturgy. Even if we don’t have a formal order of service, we have a perception of what constitutes worship. We may not feel like singing, or reading, or talking. Though those things are worship, worship isn’t limited to those things. Jesus said that the Father is seeking those who worship “in spirit and in truth,” not with singing and reading and having a worship “service.”
- Rest is worship. Especially in ministry, but equally so in family life, self-care is often the first thing that gets thrown under the bus when life gets rolling, but God commanded us to rest! Before there was a church, before the law and the prophets, before his covenant with Abraham God set a precedent for rest. This doesn’t mean we’re idle, rather, that we are taking time to simply reflect on and trust in God’s goodness, faithfulness, and provision.
- We can’t worship if we aren’t honest. Why do so many people love the Psalms? Because they’re raw and honest expression of emotion within the human experience. David was called by God “a man after God’s own heart,” and the other psalmists were godly men. They expressed some horrible thoughts and feelings—bad vibes—through those psalms, but they always brought them to God rather than acting on them. We should do the same. Worship is being honest with God, and ourselves, about what we’re thinking and feeling. God knows anyway. He knows what we need before we ever come to him.
- Ultimately, what we need is God’s presence. When we pray, God never gives us some “thing” independent of himself. If we need peace, Jesus is the Prince of Peace. If we need rest, God is our rest. God IS love. When he gives us grace, that grace is the evidence of his Spirit moving within and around us. If we’re going to walk in the grace given us, then we need to receive it; we need to “approach the throne of grace with confidence.
- Worship is enriched when we allow others to serve us. This may be the hardest one because, first, we need to let others in and trust them with feelings we may prefer to keep hidden. Second, it’s hard to ask for help. The ladies are usually better at this than us guys, but it can be hard for anyone to admit they aren’t alright and need help. This is one of the great benefits of a home church gathering. They are a more accommodating environment for confession, and they are usually a tighter-knit group; more trust is built from the deeper intimacy and it’s easier to talk about our weaknesses, needs, and feelings in that setting. A good leader will be an example of how to navigate weakness, struggle, and failure, by not hiding the fact that they have to, just like everyone else, and they will also empower those around them to minister… even to them. What a beautiful opportunity for discipleship!
It may be natural to worship in good times. It may be obvious to worship in hard times. But when you feel like all you can manage is to just lay there and be numb, it is still worship to simply start confessing that and see what God does from there.