The Heart of Worship (Part 1)

“I will praise the Lord at all times.
    I will constantly speak his praises.
I will boast only in the Lord;
    let all who are helpless take heart.
Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
    let us exalt his name together.”

Psalm 34:1-3 (NLT)

At all times. At all times. Surely, I shouldn’t have to worship the Lord when I don’t feel like it, right? Surely, when I am in pain the Lord wouldn’t expect such praise from me? Yet, a new thought begins to tickle the depths of my heart and my mind. What if my worship was not conditional upon what I am going through or how I feel. What if worship was designed to be more about God than it is about me. I will praise the Lord at all times. Surely, when I am in pain and do not even feel His presence, I will still choose to worship Jesus. Let us exalt His name together.

The very nature of worship is that we are solely focused on the subject of our praise. There is a new wave of worship bursting into the atmosphere of the earth from the atmosphere of heaven. It is currently pouring over us like a rushing waterfall stirring the still waters below. This is the message: worship is about God. It sounds so simple and obvious, but in my own experience I have found this truth to be overlooked time and time again in my worship. The cry of my heart is that the focus of my worship would be less about encountering the love of the Lord and more about making sure that He feels my love. I simply encounter His love as a byproduct of genuine praise.

I have been trained in my subconscious to only worship the Lord when I feel like it. In the reality of the kingdom, worship is not a response to a feeling, but an act of the will. If I don’t feel connected to God in my worship then I reach a crossroads. Will I continue to press in, or will I give up. It is up to me whether I am connecting or not. God is constantly in a state of connecting with us; that’s His nature. It is a beautiful moment when one chooses to praise the Lord regardless of the emotions they are feeling. The sacrifice of my comfort itself is praise to the Lord. It pleases Him when He sees us turn to Him even in the midst of trouble and pain.

So, if my purpose in worship is simply to glorify Jesus, then my question becomes this: what more can I give? Where is the line I need to cross to tap into my willpower instead of simply just giving up a response to the emotions I am feeling. Please do not misunderstand me. Emotions and feelings in worship are beautiful and they reveal the nature of God and His love for us. I am merely suggesting that my praise to the Creator of the heavens and the earth should not be dependent on what I am feeling. I don’t worship Him because of how he makes me feel. I worship Him because of who He is and who I know Him to be and who the Truth reveals Him to be.

I want to worship like David worshiped. Even in the worst moments of his life he still turned to the Lord and activated perhaps his greatest gift from God: free will. If it is pleasing to God that I worship Him when I am overwhelmed by his manifest presence (it is), then how much more pleasing to Him is the voice that is trapped in the desert of dispassion crying out to Jesus, “O Lord, I will praise your name no matter what! Your praise will always be on my lips! This is my will: that the name of Jesus will be praised for eternity without ceasing!” The heart of worship must shift from being an emotional experience into being an act of the will. Will you still worship when you don’t feel His presence? Will you still choose Him when it’s harder than usual?

We do not worship to get a response; we worship as a response.

-Jonah

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