This is another excerpt from my (hopefully-soon-to-be published) book Taking Off My Comfortable Clothes, about the lessons I learned as the world’s only Assemblies of God monk.
In the Old Testament, when the people gathered for worship there was an expectancy that God would speak. When Moses entered the Tabernacle, he went in knowing that he was entering into the very presence of God. The priests in the Old Testament went to great lengths to make sure they did everything the Lord instructed them to do before they began to serve Him around the Tabernacle or the Temple, for some priests were killed by God for serving Him in an unworthy manner (Lev. 10:1).
When we read Acts 2, we see that the wind blew and shook the upper room when the disciples gathered for prayer and worship. And I don’t think the believers were very surprised. Likewise, when we come together as a family to worship God, we should expect God to meet us too, for Jesus said, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matt. 18:20). When I was a monk, we gathered in the chapel at the Little Portion with an expectancy that we would meet with God. The physical acts of worship — kneeling, standing, raising our hands, making the sign of the cross — are designed to involve the whole person in a spiritual act of worship. We cannot separate the spiritual from the physical. Any truly spiritual act will find an expression through our bodies, whether that be in raising our hands as we sing of God’s glory, or stretching out our hands to serve those less fortunate.
You may think it very spiritual to be a monk or a nun who spends most of their days in prayer and contemplation of God. But I know of no monastic tradition, even those who spend up to 19 hours a day alone with God, where no work is done. Please do not get the impression that you’d be more spiritual if you didn’t have a job to go to and all that was required of you was to sit in a comfortable chair and worship God while heavenly music played in the background. Jesus worshipped God alone in the mountains, but He always came down and met the needs of the people. If your worship of God does not lead to your service of people, then I don’t know who or what you were worshipping, but it was not God.
How many ways can you think of to worship God that DOES NOT involve a church service, music, being alone or prayer? I am not putting down or degrading corporate worship in church, but rather I am lifting up the different ways we can worship God in our everyday life.
For instance, since God created us in His image, when we speak to one another with the same respect and reverence we would speak to the Lord, wouldn’t you say we were honoring, if not worshipping, God? Therefore, when we speak with our spouses and our children in a tone that honors God, it is a work of service that is also a form of worship. Besides, how many of us would change the tone of our voice when we speak with our family if Jesus were physically standing in the room? If we were talking to our spouse but looking a nail-scared hands, don’t you think we’d have a slightly different attitude? And when our attitude changes, I think we are paying homage to God, and we have entered into worship.
True worship will evoke change in your life. Since the followers of Jesus of Nazareth will worship God in “spirit and in truth,” (John 4:23), then the truth is our reverential worship of God will lead to a change in our life. I will venture to say that if your worship time is not changing your life with God, family and neighbor, then true worship is not taking place.