A guide to Worship
Last Saturday Night we had a special Worship Night. The first aim was to Worship God. The second aim was to give more time to various elements of worship than we normally do in a Sunday Service so that we can get better at worshipping, both in a Sunday service and at other times.
Experience and knowledge of these elements can help us more effectively approach God in worship. Now it is important to note that these elements form a framework for worship. They are not mandatory and aren't a formula. There will be occasions when you might go from your daily life to the closest adoration in one step. On other occasions you may not have time to give all these elements equal time. However, in general, being aware of this framework will enhance your worship. If your worship of God seems stale or stuck, coming back to this framework can be really helpful.
We Praise God by declaring good things about who God is and what God does.
We Thank God for the way His Character and works have impacted us personally.
As a human example, I might sing the praises of my wife's ability to make amazing desserts. But then I might personally thank her for the wonderful lemon meringue pie she made for tonight's dinner party.
Exaltation can begin when we don't feel particularly close to God but we are starting to turn our attention to God.
We more intentionally call to mind and express aspects of who God is and what God has done: in history; in the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus; in the church; in our lives. The things of God have our full attention, we are drawing closer to God. But as we do that we often become more aware of our own brokenness, sinfulness, and failures. And so in this reflection element it is important confess those things to God. We are honest with God, agreeing with Him about these things and asking for and receiving God's forgiveness.
Having declared who God is in praise and thanks, reflected in more detail on God with appropriate confession, in a time of closeness we then express our deep love, devotion and commitment to God - giving ourselves to God, and opening ourselves to God as fully as we are able.
Having drawn near to God, opened ourselves to God and given ourselves to God, we receive the presence of His Spirit in our lives in fresh ways. We can expect God to speak to our hearts and to release gifts of the Spirit.
Having met with God in fresh ways, we then go out into our lives, empowered by the Spirit. With a renewed sense of God's presence, we go as God's ambassadors to bless those around us.
When you reflect on these elements, you may identify some of them that have been weak or missing. Think about what simple steps you might take to correct that.
Sometimes we are stuck in our worship because an element has been missing. Other times we are stuck because we haven't engaged in each element in fresh ways. If that is the case, think about something fresh you could do.
None of the elements above are tied to any specific form of interaction with God. In our Special Worship night we used social media, conversations, songs, hymns, communion, physical objects, prayers in unison, responsive readings of psalms, silence, standing and kneeling. And even this isn't an exhaustive list of the things you might do.
You can follow this framework on your own, in small groups and in public services.
You can do these things quietly in your minds maybe when you are on the train.
But there are also benefits in being physical and verbal. You could try reading a Psalm out loud, or going into the back yard and kneeling as you praise God for His creation.
David Wanstall, 30/11/2018