Recently, a Lutheran pastor was describing to me why he enjoys liturgical worship. He said, “Dwayne, some people may think our traditional worship services are less than exciting – even stale. But I don’t see them that way. Almost every time we read from the liturgical literature and observe the liturgical calendar, God shows me something fresh that challenges me and motivates me to worship Him more.” As I listened to him, I realized something: Here is a guy who is in love with the Lord and wants to worship Him completely. His passion for God is bubbling out of him! And it’s obvious that for him it is not the method or style of his praise that he is most passionate about. Rather, it is the Object of his praise.
His statements sparked a thought in me: How often do we as believers walk into worship gatherings and expect those services – and the leaders up front – to motivate us to worship? By the same token, how many of us often walk out disappointed at the end of those services because we weren’t “inspired” to praise? We tend to blame our lack of participation in praise on the service itself or on its leaders. We say things like, “I couldn’t worship to that song;” “I didn’t like the way the music leader waved his hand when he led;” “That wasn’t my style of music;” “Those people singing in the choir weren’t smiling enough;” or maybe, “Those people in the choir were smiling too much.” And on and on and on our excuses go.
Please understand that I’m not trying to defend a certain style of worship here. I have no interest in recommending one worship style over another. And I’m certainly not suggesting that the way a service is conducted is not important. Of course it is. However, true, Biblical praise doesn’t really depend on what style is being employed or how it’s being led at the moment. Praise to our most worthy Lord should exude from us no matter our circumstance or situation.
In Psalm 45:1 David wrote, “My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite verses to my King.” That’s why in his book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster defined praise as the “bubbling over of a hot heart.” What I believe our great God wants us all to grasp is this: Praise flows from inside us, from our hot hearts that are totally in love with Him.
It’s time to put the blame game behind us. If we don’t worship God when we come together with other believers, that’s not their fault, it’s not that church’s fault, and it’s not the fault of the pastor or the worship leader. No, if we don’t somehow express our praise to the Lord Most High, then ultimately that is our fault. So next time, ask yourself, “Is this service what is dead, or could it be that I am the one who needs reviving the most?”