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 This is an excerpt from an unpublished book I’ve written called Taking Off My Comfortable Clothes.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.