For four years I was an Assemblies of God minister and a monk with the Brothers and Sisters of Charity at the Little Portion Hermitage. This is an excerpt from an unpublished book I’ve written called Taking Off My Comfortable Clothes.
Perhaps it is just me, but I don’t think the believers in Acts 2 were very surprised when the wind blew and shook the upper room when the disciples gathered for prayer and worship. Jesus said, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matt. 18:20). Would you really expect God to enter a room and not make just a little bit of noise? When God arrives, change is in the air.
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 worshiped 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 worshiping, 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 worshiping, 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.
Just wanted to let you know I do so love reading your blog. Every time I read what you write or reply to another I always hear Jesus in you. That is a blessing within itself.
I love the way you reply with the truth but not with persecution. Few are granted that grace it seems now-a-days. You truly have been.
I am Catholic but a Convert, so I know both sides of the coin also. I lost many friends when I converted and was told some pretty “mean” things, and still am:>) I can let it roll off a little better now though, at times.
Anyhow, just wanted to let you know, your blog is a place of peace for me.
God Bless, Sandy
Thanks for your kind words, especially about the way I reply to people. I make it a practice to remember that the people I respond to are the people Jesus died for, loves and created. They don’t need me to condemn them — they’ve probably had enough of that. To be attracted to God, people need to be attracted to His followers. I think that most people show a disbelief in God because they’ve been disillusioned by His representatives.
Every so often I get a little discouraged, wondering if my book will ever get published and if my blog is really doing anyone any good. Then I receive a comment like yours and I think, “God is doing something through my writing and every once in a while, He let’s me know.” Through you, He did.
You are doing well Jim with what God has called you to do, so I would not worry. Sometimes it is not that we touch the multitudes but the few who truly need touching. I feel you do that quite well.
As far as your book. In God’s timing dear friend. If it is His will it will sell a million or better.
Just keep up the good work. Sometimes I come to your blog just for a moment of silence and to catch my breath. That is a good thing which God has given to you the grace to provide.
God Bless, Sandy
I wanted to find out why some people look down or turn up their noses to others that raise their hands in a worship service so I googled it and got your blog! I used to be a Catholic and now attend Baptist services. I really enjoyed reading your blog for the first time. It has been my experiences that the people that are uncomfortable with the raising of the hands are Catholic or Lutheran. Is there any significance here? I am very curious. I know when I was Catholic I thought anything different was just weird. Maybe that is all it is from these people. And I am being asked now if I want to become a nun? HA I am no longer Catholic and I am much more spiritual and not afraid to share it. Which is what I end up telling them. Thank you for your blog.
Thanks for your kind words about my blog. I hope you continue to enjoy them as you continue to read.
I don’t think there is any significance to your observation that mostly Catholics and Lutherans don’t like to raise their hands. Actually, I know numerous people in all types of denominations who are comfotable raising their hands. For those of us who grew up in or attend a charasmatic/pentecostal church, raising our hands is an intimate part of our musical worship experience. We lift our hands because Scripture tells us to. Still, I’ve been in churches where my wife or I were among the very few who raised our hands, and although there was a feeling of being self-conscious, nobody ever asked us to leave!
I encourage you to continue to worship God in any way that enhances your corporate worship experience. Personally, I don’t enjoy singing in worship as much as I do playing the piano. Some of my greatest times with God comes when I’m at the piano, not when I’m in the congregation. So find your place in worship and ENJOY!
mmMm worship. my favorite thing to do in life. it seems as though where ever you are in life, God still loves His childrens worship and praises. personally i just love to get on my knees and face and just worship like that.
i love in samual where king solomon just finished building the temple…and the fire of the Lord filled the altar…and when that happened, all peoples fell on their faces to the pavement..and worshiped.