Have you ever found yourself in a place where you struggle to enter into authentic worship?
I know that I have.
Over the past few years, I’ve been wondering what is missing from my worship experience.
I still love the Lord.
I’m still grateful for His sacrifice upon the cross.
Yet, when I enter the corporate worship experience my mind easily wanders and I struggle to engage.
I’m going through all of the appropriate movements, yet there is something missing deep in my soul.
I adore my worship pastor and can find no fault with the song choices or the environment for worship provided at my local church.
Even if I could find fault, it would be a mistake to blame anyone but myself for a lackluster worship experience.
As I searched for the source of my worship problem, my mind wandered back to the most vibrant worship experiences I’ve ever participated in.
At the top of the list was the raw and unadulterated worship I experienced when I was 19 years old and serving God as a missionary with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Australia.
Our group took an extended camping trip during our training (DTS) to spend endless days in the raw beauty of the Australian Outback learning about and worshiping God.
It was spontaneous worship surrounded by desperate beauty and an authentic desire to meet with God.
It was uninhibited by the traditional concerns of what others may think, as each individual was so focused on the gift of the cross, that we lost sight of everything but His glory and majesty.
No singular worship experience before or since has brought me closer to my Savior.
I sometimes think that experience forever ruined me for the ordinary, run of the mill, Sunday worship service.
Wait…did I just say tht out loud???
That one magnificent worship experience has the power to detract from every subsequent experience?
Well, that is a ridiculous thought!
Yet, dear friend, I have allowed it to creep into my mind far too often.
I have used it as an excuse not to dig deeper, not to search for another reason my heart is failing to engage in authentic worship.
And I know that I am not alone in this.
How many of us Christians have a powerful worship experience that casts a shadow over every other?
I would venture to guess that most of you have a similar tale to tell.
Just like we all can easily remember the feelings we had when we fell in love for the first time.
They were powerful and transformative, yet they were so fleeting.
Like an explosion in your heart that lifted you so high off the ground you’ve been falling ever since.
I know that I will never be able to recreate that “falling in love” experience with my earthly husband, so why do I expect any different with my heavenly Husband?
Love matures over time and becomes something deeper and even more beautiful, but this mature love will never toy with your emotions or cause your heart to soar like young love.
Love is a selfless commitment to enduring relationship.
And so is authentic worship.
I have recently discovered the secret to creating a lifestyle of worship, and I have to admit that I was not prepared for this discovery.
I had nearly given up on the possibility of experiencing authentic worship again.
I was committed to the process of worship, yet it was shallow and rigid, a forced act of an obedient servant.
Sort of like a coffee date with a person you used to like but just don’t feel a connection with anymore.
You do your best to engage in conversation with them but you are grateful when the time is up and your obligation is satisfied.
What a terrible confession?!?
But that is the perfect illustration to illuminate my truest feelings about my own personal worship experiences over the past few years.
And I can openly share that with you today because I can confidently say that I am no longer in that place.
I’ve discovered a new way to approach worship, and I can’t wait to share the missing piece of the puzzle with you.
But first, I want you to think of one person in your life that you just LOVE to go out to coffee with.
Someone who you so enjoy connecting with, that you are always slightly sad when your time is up.
A person that makes you feel loved and cherished, who brings out the very best in you.
Ok, do you have a person in mind? GREAT!
Stop reading and grab a sheet of paper. Take a moment to write down WHY you enjoy this person so much.
Don’t rush this, I’ll wait…
…are you done yet?
…ok, I’m no very good at waiting, so I’ll just continue on and you join me when you are ready…
My person is Sammi Ricke, my best friend.
I love going to coffee with her because she accepts me for who I am, she wants the best for me, and she is truly interested in what is going on in my life.
Our conversation is always well balanced as we take turns listening, asking questions, and sharing our thoughts with one another.
Giving and receiving, talking and listening.
Our relationship is a two-way street, a commitment to authentic communication, a safe haven in a perilous world.
My guess is that your list and mine overlap a bit because the best relationships include two equally engaged parties.
Have you ever gone to coffee with someone who only wanted to talk about themselves?
Not much fun, is it?
When I was struggling to enter into worship, it is because I was focusing on myself and what I needed from the relationship.
I was still talking with God on a regular basis, because talking is my specialty. But, my dear sweet friend, I was not taking time to listen to Him.
I was a terrible coffee date because I was dominating the conversation.
As a result, I was failing to experience all of the depth and beauty that comes from a balanced relationship.
I had made worship all about me, all about my needs, all about my feelings.
I was self-focused and therefore self-sabotaging the very most important relationship in my life.
Finding my way back to a lifestyle of authentic worship has been a slow process and it has required me laying aside thoughts of myself and focusing my attention on who God is.
Authentic worship is not about us, it is about God and how incredibly worthy He is of our praises.
If you are missing “that loving feeling” in your worship experience, I encourage you to search your heart and ask God to reveal any selfishness hiding there.
I’ve only recently begun this practice, and it has unlocked my heart and allowed me to rediscover authentic worship.
The songs are the same, the environment is the same, yet I am changed.
I am fully engaged in the process that I lose track of time and forget myself completely.
Oh, how wonderful it is to forget yourself and focus your heart on the majesty of the Creator of all things.
I’ve found my way back home, back to a lifestyle of authentic worship…and I’m praying that my words have encouraged you to do the same.
Don’t delay…He’s patiently waiting for you!
Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD! Psalm 150 ESV