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In March 2006, I pulled up to a nice looking brick church. The parking lot was almost empty so I knew I was early. I just sat in the car for a while and watched people begin to arrive and go inside. They looked nice enough and some even smiled at me through the glass, as if they knew the hesitancy I felt about joining them. I finally went in but I sat in the last row so I could leave if I got uncomfortable. An older man came up and encouraged me to sit closer. After I ran out of excuses as to why I’d rather sit in the back, I gave in and moved to the 3rd or 4th row.
The lights went down and a young Hispanic guy with thick black hair came up and began to sing and play the keyboard. He could have been singing in another language as far as I was concerned. I hadn’t ever heard these songs and honestly, they didn’t make sense to me. “I am a friend of God?” But I thought God was mean! “I worship you because of who you are?” What does that even mean! Well, at least the keyboard player was hot! (It’s ok, he’s my husband now! I can say that!)
As I stood there, surrounded by people with their eyes closed and arms lifted up, my heart began to burn. Literally. It’s hard to put into words what I felt inside. When I think about it now, I’m reminded of the story in Luke when two men were walking on the road to Emmaus after Jesus had been crucified. Jesus appeared to them, but they didn’t know who he was. Jesus went on to walk with them, talk with them and even eat with them, but it wasn’t until he disappeared from their sight that they realized they had been with the Lord. One said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)
That’s what I felt. A burning, an urging. I was in the presence of God, and even though I didn’t understand what was happening, I knew enough to know that I needed him. I asked Jesus into my life, right during praise and worship. With tears flowing down my face, I sat down when the music ended, knowing something was different. I looked up to see the same older man who encouraged me to move closer begin to teach, realizing now that he was the pastor of the church! At the end of the service, he asked if anyone wanted a new life in Christ, and I basically ran to the front of the church!
This is why worship is so important to me personally. I met Jesus in worship. I hadn’t heard a sermon or powerful teaching. I met Jesus as my heart softened and worship filled the room. I’ve heard testimonies of people being healed during praise and worship. In the Old Testament, the army of Israel sent the worshippers out first before battle!
There are any ways to worship God, but I am talking specifically about praise and worship in regards to music. I sing on the praise team at my church and have been involved in leading worship for over 15 years. I would say I’m a bit more charismatic and demonstrative during worship, but when you come from where I came from, you’d understand.
Worship is an outward expression of an inward revelation. When we understand who God is and all that he has done and constantly does for us, our response would be nothing but gratitude. Setting the atmosphere is such a vital part of our weekly worship of God.
Worship cannot be something we do only on Sunday morning. I ran a half marathon in 2019 and am training for a marathon now. I remember during the half marathon seeing people limping and crying towards the end. You can tell they hadn’t trained and prepared properly. I can tell Sunday mornings who hasn’t trained as well!
I make it a point during the week to spend time worshipping God in my house. When I get to church Sunday morning, I’ve already meditated on how good he is. I’ve already thanked him for salvation and delivering me from my sin. I’ve already welcomed his presence into my day.
This week, focus on making praise and worship a part of your week. It’s better than focusing on problems and worrying! We can make the decision everyday to fill our mouths and homes with praise!