As a child, I enjoyed singing in church about as much as I enjoyed learning long division in school. I loathed it. Shyness was partially the reason for this. The other reason was because I would have cherished a Sunday morning lie-in. Our church wasn’t within walking distance from our home; it was a forty-minute drive and there were five of us who needed to each use the bathroom, get dressed up and eat a substantial breakfast before leaving the house. Reaching a pew before the opening prayer was like a weekly Olympic sporting event. Anglican church services only last an hour, so it is vital to be punctual.
Attending church on Sunday mornings as a family was of paramount importance to my parents. They particularly enjoyed the praise and worship segment of the service. My dad would catch me sitting quietly from the corner of his eye, and hiss at me to get up and join in. Obedience was always in my nature, and so I would reluctantly ascend from our pew and mumble through ‘Be Thou my vision’, ‘To God be the glory’ and other classics that were projected on the screen.
I never properly understood the importance of worship. As I got older, friends invited me to their churches, and I would see great passion in members of the congregation when they sang to the Lord. Some literally cried out to God – on their knees, with tears streaming down their faces – and I couldn’t fathom why. Others would be jumping for joy. It was like they had completely forgotten themselves. I had yet to find the Lord for myself, and so up until then my worship was strained.
Worship is accrediting worth to something or someone. It is a heartfelt expression of adoration, wonder and fascination. It is also an expression of gratitude towards God. When He has pulled you through trials, you simply cannot sit still. Those who worship hard usually have monumental testimonies.
Since growing in my faith, I not only worship God in song. I also worship Him by devoting time every day to express my gratitude through prayer. We humans are designed to worship. It is not taxing for us at all if you think about it. Everybody worships someone or something. Wealth, celebrities, friends and spouses can all take precedence in our lives. I was raised in a Christian household; however, for most of my adolescent years, I failed to put God at the centre of my life. Fashion and beauty were what occupied my mind, and I relied on the prayers of my parents to keep God within my orbit.
Why do we worship Him? We worship not just because of who God is, but because of what He has done: sacrificing His Son, so that we may have eternal life and not perish. By uttering songs to Him we also come into God’s presence, which in turn shapes us into His likeness. There are many verses in the Bible that touch on worship. King David outlines reasons for why we must worship in Psalm 146:6-10. Psalm 150:6 states that everything that is capable of breath must praise the Lord. A verse I like to meditate over is Habakkuk 3:17-18, which reads:
‘Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour.’
There are periods in life where we do not flourish, and it can be quite challenging to rejoice in the midst of these moments. Sometimes we can fall into the trap of feeling like God has forsaken us. The Gospel in song has been a great healing tool for me in the past, and continues to lift my spirit. For me, it literally magnifies the Lord and takes my eyes off the busyness and hardships of life. Psalm 42:11 says: ‘Why, my soul are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God.’ Worship plays an essential role in rekindling our spiritual fire and keeping it ablaze. It affirms the Word of God over our lives – and words hold great power.