When I think of the word worship, I usually visualize someone with their hands in the air, maybe on their knees, singing or crying out to God. For believers, worship is a time where our minds can be transformed and our hearts can be renewed – but for that to happen, worship can’t just be external. It has to be internal as well.
I grew up in church, and I’ve attended Sunday morning worship all of my life, but I can’t count the number of times when I was singing the words with nothing happening in my heart. In Matthew 15:8-9, Jesus said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; they worship me in vain.”
There is a difference between being moved by worship songs, and being moved through the act of worshiping. It’s possible for your mind to be moved by the lyrics in a song, or the beautiful voice of a singer, without your heart being engaged. Maybe you think the lyrics are beautiful, but you don’t connect to the Savior behind the words.
True worship has to be internal. It’s not just about singing the words. In Hebrew, “worship” means to bow down and submit, or to offer. It means to internally surrender to the one whom you are worshiping. It’s this act of surrender that allows God to move in and through us. It connects our heart and spirit to the truth we are proclaiming with our mouths.
It’s when we are in that state of worship that God can easily speak to us, or impress something on our hearts. One of the most vivid memories I have of God speaking to me through worship was right after my father-in-law passed. A week after the funeral, I found out I was pregnant. I was overwhelmed with conflicting emotions – thrilled that we were going to have our miracle baby; devastated at the timing of everything; nervous about telling the family – but I knew God had been faithful to answer our prayers and that I needed to trust Him with the timing as well.
That Sunday, my husband led worship. I held my hands protectively over my non-existent baby bump and prayed that God would give me courage. The song my husband sang was “God of This City”. My head knew the lyrics, but it was like my heart heard them for the first time.
You’re the light in this darkness
You’re the hope to the hopeless
You’re the peace to the restless
There is no one like our God
For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this city
For greater things have yet to come. There is pain now, but joy comes in the morning. Blessed are those who die in the Lord. Do not grieve, like those who have no hope. I have a new song for you to sing. And greater things are still to be done. I know the plans I have for you. Do not fear, for I am with you. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. This child is My handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which I have prepared in advance.
God spoke words of love, encouragement, and provision straight to me because my heart was open to receive them. This doesn’t mean you have to receive revelation to be worshiping. Worship doesn’t have to follow a specific formula. You don’t have to be singing, or kneeling, or crying. It’s not about a body position, but a heart position. In your heart, does Jesus come first? When you’re singing or speaking, are you talking about God, or to Him?
Your pretty words mean nothing if your heart doesn’t echo them. Your raised hands mean nothing if they are not seeking Him. Your bended knees mean nothing if you are refusing to surrender. Worship is meant to declare God’s glory, but it means nothing if your heart doesn’t believe He deserves it.
If you want to connect deeper to the Savior behind the songs, you only have to surrender, for He is worthy to receive all of the glory and all of the honor. He alone is God, and He is worthy to be praised.