Here are ten practical suggestions for a richer worship life. Some of these, no doubt, you already do. Some of these may not ring your bell at all. Remember, this is not a magical list of things you can do to worship God, but they will give you more of a continuous worship experience and, therefore, daily renewal. The list is by no means exhaustive.
- Preparation. I asked David Delk, president of Man in the Mirror, "What do you think are the most practical things I could suggest to these men?" He astutely observed, "I don’t care what else you tell them, but just tell them to take two breaths before they start." This is the idea of preparation. For example, when you’re lying in bed before you roll out in the morning, prepare yourself for the day. Turn your thoughts to God and maybe say a prayer. On your way to church on Sundays, before you leave the house, think about what you’re going to do. Help your family think about it too!
- Creation. You could use a lot of different words for this, but this is the idea of contemplating God’s creation, His general revelation (amplified in chapter 1). I love to sit out in the backyard before daybreak and look up into the star-saturated sky and just imagine God taking His hand, dipping it into a bowl of liquid light, and flicking His fingers against the curtain of the night.
How do you understand that? I can’t. So, instead, I fall down and worship. Contemplating the majesty of creation can lead you to a transcendent moment that leaves you with a deeper sense of awe and reverence of our great God.
- The Bible. The Bible is where we gain knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ, of faith and repentance and obedience, and how we might live our lives. You might consider having a regular place in your home where you go. I know that when I go to that place, I am going to meet with God there because I am going to look into His Word. Through study, I’m going to allow Him to speak to me in private through His Word.
- Prayer. There are all kinds of ways to pray. There are set prayers, and there are spontaneous prayers. I would encourage you to have a running conversation with God. Most people have a running conversation with themselves. "I wonder whether I should go to that party tonight? I wonder whether I should buy this product? I wonder whom I should see for my next sales call? I wonder, I wonder, I wonder . . . " Maybe you could turn those thoughts into prayers and have a running conversation with God—a form of continuous worship that could lead to continuous renewal, not to mention continuous guidance.
- Books. Richard Baxter wrote in 1656, "See that in every family there are some useful, moving books besides the Bible. If they have none, persuade them to buy some. If they be not able to buy them, give them some if you can. If you are not able yourself, get some gentlemen or other rich persons that are ready to do good works to do it and engage them to read them at night when they have leisure and, especially, on the Lord’s day." If you want to have new thoughts about God, you can do that by reading the Bible, but also by reading good Christian literature. I have always been amazed at how a man will get hold of a book, and then God will use the book to get hold of the man.
- Music. Another window into worship is through music. Many days I pop a CD of worship music into my car’s CD player. Almost instantly, I find myself in a state of worship as I drive along. Instant worship leads to instant renewal. So whether you’re a salesman between appointments, a lawyer on your way to a deposition, or a computer programmer in your cubicle, put on the headphones and enjoy music that inspires you to worship and praise and adore our great God.
- Journaling. Experiment with jotting down your thoughts. Carry a pencil or pen with you. Me, I like typing into my computer. I keep an annual journal, but I don’t have any pattern, rhyme, or reason to it. But whenever I have a thought that I think is worth recording, I put it in my journal, and it helps me sort out my thinking. A lot of times we have thoughts, then we lose them completely and they’re gone forever. So writing them down is a great way of capturing our worshipful thoughts.
- Public Worship (Church). Worshiping together in community makes God more tangible. Caring about brothers and sisters in Christ honors God. Richard Foster, in his book Celebration of Discipline, has a chapter on the discipline of worship. One thing he suggests, and I’ve been doing it ever since, is to arrive at church, look around, and find people who have drooped shoulders and, under the leading of the Spirit, pray for them. I pray for the pastor; I pray for the worshipers; I pray for the experience. It’s interesting how much I get up for worship by helping others get up for worship.
- Family Worship. If you are married, don’t neglect leading your wife and children into a deeper holiness and experience of worshiping God. Gather your family in the morning to pray for the day. Take five minutes and share how you saw God work the day before. Ask everyone for prayer requests. Dedicate the day to His glory and praise. When you gather for meals, be sure to ask God’s blessing and offer thanks. It’s a wonderful example, and certainly captures the Greek concept of worship—"to kiss, the way a dog licks its master’s hand."
- Work. Broadcaster Roy Firestone once interviewed Hakeem Olajuwan. "Your teammates say that you’ll go out and practice and shoot hook shots for hours and hours and hours. They say that during a scrimmage that you will go for loose balls like it’s the NBA finals. You’re one of the best there has ever been in this game. Why don’t you just lie back and take it easy?"
He said, "Roy, you need to know something. When I go out onto the hardwood, I’m not going to work. I’m going to worship. How would I dare to not give back to God what He has given to me with joy and thanksgiving? No, I don’t go to work. I go to worship."
He’s a Muslim. He’s not a Christian, and yet God in His providence has given him the insight that our work is meant to be an act of worship.
Being Overwhelmed by God’s Greatness
The bottom line is this: Worship is a personal expression of being overwhelmed by God’s goodness and greatness. Worship includes any activity that enhances or expresses your understanding of God’s supremacy and your submission to Him. Your communication of that concept is limited only by your creativity. You can do it any way you want. You can do it in public or in private.
I recommend you worship God every day. Make it a habit. Go through your day seeking opportunities to worship God, to praise Him, to exalt Him, to revere Him. Practice worshiping Him about everything–every family argument, every late-paying customer, every complaining employee, every person you see and greet on a daily basis. Worship can be a scary word, yet it’s a relatively simple thing to do. Just let your soul commune with God in a greater way every day.
Lord, when things are going really well, it’s easy to lose our focus on worshiping You, when that should be the very cause of worship. Lord, when we feel hollow and think life is pointless, the way out of that must certainly be to come into Your presence and commune with You. No matter what our circumstances, the way we satisfy the soul’s deepest hunger is always the same–we must learn to worship our Creator. Lord, I’m not sure what You want to do in our lives, but I know You want to do something. So I pray You’d help each of us respond to Your promptings. Help each of us to continue to grow as worshipers of You, the one true God. In Christ’s name. Amen.
For the glory of Christ and no other reason,
Pat Morley, Ph.D.
Man in the Mirror