The Heart of Worship

I’ve wanted to write about worship for so long now. I’ve been in a few different churches, each with their own style of starting a Sunday service. I’ve been around a few people, each with their own definitions of what worship is or isn’t. What we should include and what we shouldn’t. Who should be allowed to partake, and who mustn’t.

Lately I’ve been leading worship here and there on a Sunday at my own church, but even before that, there was something so special to me about putting worship music on at home and just being in the presence of God. For me, it is a time to thank God, a time to acknowledge all He has done for me, a time to pray and seek Him, but above all, it is a time where I get to join a spiritual choir; a heavenly chorus making praises to our King.

I’ve come to see worship as more than just singing, more than just ritualistic honouring of God. It can be those things, but I believe worship goes deeper. There is a scripture in Revelation 18 which talks of the fall of Babylon. Some might refer to it as a description of Hell. In verse 22, it says: “The sound of harps, singers, flutes, and trumpets will never be heard in you again.” (NLT) This verse suggests that Hell is a place without music, which makes me think that music is a heavenly substance – designed by God for specific purpose, not just a man-made form of entertainment. Possibly worship is more powerful than we imagine.

In Acts chapter 16, the Bible talks of an event where Paul and Silas were imprisoned. One night they felt compelled to worship God, praying and singing hymns. It so happened that the other prisoners were listening in on them, and as they were singing an earthquake shook the place. The Bible says that ALL the prison doors were opened and EVERYONE’S chains came loose. The story ends with the jailor and all his family being saved and baptised – what a move of God through the simple act of singing!

This story is simple, and at first glance it may just be another miracle that Jesus’ disciples performed (still a big deal, I know). But the powerful element here is worship. You see, heaven shifts when God’s people worship Him. Chains are broken when God’s people worship Him. Freedom is gained when God’s people worship Him. Many are saved when God’s people worship Him. How often do we plough through a worship session on a Sunday morning, mumbling the words out of ritualistic habit? What would happen if we realised our worship was more than that? What would result if we understood that music is the language of heaven, that when we worship God we join the chorus of creation – and it is powerful.

I wonder if, instead of just singing songs this Sunday morning because it’s just what we do, we understand the value in our voice joining the chorus of creation? That when we worship, we give God glory, we thank Him for his goodness, we do the thing that we were created to do – and we see our lives filled with more of Him.

When people worshipped God in the scriptures, God showed up. He was present and real. Whether they were worshipping in precarious situations like Paul and Silas, or whether they were writing music to God on their harp like David. The lyrics were never just lyrics, they contained power and truth, enough to break chains and bring freedom. May we be a generation of Christians who worship with our hearts and not just our mouths, who know the power of worship and have an expectation for God to show up when we live out our God-given heart of worship.