Last night a number of us gathered at the church for another evening of praise and worship. There’s no agenda on these nights. We just gather around the band and sing to God. We sing songs of praise, thanksgiving, adoration, petition. It’s a stretch for our musicians because after the initial few songs they just go where they feel led next. It takes a minute or two before the visual tech can find the song we’re singing online so they can pop up the words on the screen, but generally we don’t miss a beat – we’re in the moment.
The words of Psalm 33:1-3 come to mind.
“Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
It is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the Lord with the harp;
Make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song;
Play skillfully, and shout for joy.”
Can I encourage you to consider those words for a few minutes, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t like to sing or participate in worship on Sunday mornings. First of all, the psalmist wants us to recognize that it’s good and right for the people to God to sing His praises. He is worthy of all the praise we can give Him! It really isn’t a matter of whether or not I feel like I’m into it, or whether or not I feel like doing it. Notice who we are singing for! Worship is all for an audience of One – it’s about giving God what He is due. It’s not about me at all really. As Tozer says (and I wrote about this in a previous blog), in worship we become “God-conscious”, rather than self-conscious.
The other thing I notice in this passage is the level of enthusiasm the psalmist calls for. This isn’t meek and passive worship. It is expressive! It calls for the musicians to do their best – to be skilled and creative in leading the righteous ones in worship. And it calls for shouting! (Now we’re feeling squeamish, aren’t we?) Could someone really be so into the worship of the Lord that they actually want to shout it out? I often wonder why we sing songs about lifting our hands, bowing down, or shouting out to the Lord – without actually doing any of these things? Could we be missing something? If God is not praised loudly and whole-heartedly in His own house, by His own people – then where will he be praised?
Praise and worship is a gift of the Spirit. After encouraging us to be filled with the Spirit, the Apostle Paul says, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). Music engages our hearts, and not just our minds. Music allows us to feel and not just reason. Music moves us, if we allow it to do so. And this is part of the whole-hearted offering that worship is intended to be. To worship well on a Sunday morning actually prepares us to live a life of worship the rest of the week. Because we have allowed ourselves to become less self-conscious, and more God-conscious. Let that be our goal when we come together. May each of us strive to overcome ourselves, so that we can give freely to the Lord, the praise, honour and glory which He is due. Come on everybody, let’s sing to the Lord!