Going to a house of worship, reading scripture, reciting a creed, repeating a prayer are not worship. They can be and ought to be acts leading to worship, but in themselves they are not worship.
Worship occurs when a person humbly puts aside distractions and focuses on God with a sense of awe, respect, reverence and gratitude. It involves bringing God into focus and conscientiously giving Him respect and engaging in commitment.
One of the best definitions and one of the crudest I have heard of worship is to “do the dog to.” Don’t tune out now. Dog owners can best understand this. When a dog owner returns home and is greeted by his or her dog, the dog responds from head to tail, especially the tail. Gladness, love, adoration are shown by the dog. The dog is thrilled to be in its master’s presence.
When we worship we have the same attitude toward God.
Worship is God centered. It can and should occur in the lives of all devotees every day.
However, the Scripture instructs us not to “forsake the assembling of ourselves together.”
Public worship not only gives an opportunity to show devotion to God, but to evidence our relationship with Him.
Those who lead could aspire to have it said of them as it was said of Billy Graham in “Success Magazine.”
“He’s the best salesman I ever met. He sells salvation — a product no one has ever seen, heard, smelled, touches, or tasted. He isn’t a particularly glib speaker, nor is he noted for his jokes. He is the best at what he does.
Why? Because of his dedication to his ‘customers.’ Every action he takes is designed to meet their needs, not his own. And it shows.”
A good worship leader is one who leads strongly enough so people will follow, but not so strongly they themselves become the focus.
Musicians particularly need to remember the words of an old hymn, “...when in our music God is glorified, and adoration leaves no room for pride.” When people are pushed out of their comfort zone of taste and experience form becomes so prominent substance is lost.
The challenge is to keep the attention of the worshiper on the object of worship not the form of worship.
Worshipers need to discipline themselves all through worship to keep refocusing on the object of their worship.
Worship requires concentration. The object to be worshiped is God. Certain factors indicate we are having a realistic worship experience.
We have an awareness of God’s presence.
We live the “moment,” not the past or future.
We express our love and devotion to God
We have a calm confidence God welcomes us into His presence.
We acknowledge our transparency before God and seek His will.
We confess our dependency and declare our loyalty.
We have peace in the midst of life’s storms.
We have a hunger for the Word of God.
We view our needs in light of His presence.
We have increased intimacy with God.
Resolve to daily live all of life with an awareness of God. Walk through life as though all the world is His cathedral.
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta.