Being socially distanced, our mouths covered with facemasks and quietly speaking the words of hymns and songs, did not fill us with enthusiasm. This was the plan for worshipping as services resumed at our church after the pandemic lockdown, in order to comply with government and church safety guidelines. We were glad to be able to meet again as the family of God, but there was an air of disappointment about these constraints, and anger at the enemy, “He’s trying to stifle, even silence our worship!”
But as we have entered into what we thought would be a very restricted way of offering up our praise and worship, it’s been great to discover that, despite missing some elements, our worship isn’t dampened. Instead, at least for this time, it has become more reflective, which has made it more intimate and personal, ushering in a deeper sense of wonder at who our God really is: His might, His majesty, His goodness, grace and mercy. It’s truly awe-inspiring, and raises our faith levels, whilst at the same time, bringing us to a place of humility before the King of kings.
Dare I say, without the potential to be carried away by the sound of our own voices to the rhythm and beat of the music, we have become much more aware of the profound depth of meaning of the words of the hymns and songs. And spoken softly, they have become humble, reverent prayers: ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty ... merciful and mighty … only thou art holy, there is none beside thee, perfect in power, love and purity.’ … ‘My Jesus, My Saviour, Lord, there is none like you, all of my days I want to praise the wonders of your mighty love.’
The enemy might have had a plan (as he always has) to steal the praise and worship that belongs to Almighty God, but God has turned his plan on its head, and at the same time challenged our limited understanding of worship. I believe we are entering into worship from a deeper place in our hearts, which is surely what blesses the Father. 1 Samuel 16:7 tells us, ‘The Lord doesn’t see things the way we see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’
How about looking up the words of a hymn or song and speaking them as a personal prayer to God today?
Prayer: Lord God, I’m sorry for those times when my praise and worship has been less a sacrifice of praise to You and more about making me feel good. As I speak the words of this song or hymn, may they come from my heart as a sweet fragrant offering to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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