“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” —Deuteronomy 6:5 (ESV)
“Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.’” — John 4:20-21 (ESV)
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it.” — Romans 12:1-2 (MSG)
For seven centuries, the Jews and Samaritans debated frequently and fervently about the correct place to worship. Jesus’ response to the Samaritan woman who encountered Him at the well was that all the Jews and the Samaritans knew of worship would be making a way for something new. Once the veil of the temple was torn in two, a new way to worship was made possible. Believers were given full access to God, so that He could be approached for worship anytime and anywhere. Once the Spirit of the Living God ignites our spirit by His holy fire, our hearts become personal chapels where His Spirit dwells. Therefore, we can never go anywhere without Him! When we cultivate a holy habit of thinking about the Lord often, we can live in joyful awareness of His blessed presence.
The Living Water from the fountain of God’s grace is meant for everyone who is willing to hold out an empty jug. Creating us for Himself, having designed us to worship Him, what God wants most is for us to have hearts on fire for Him (Hosea 6:6). Giving ourselves to Him in complete surrender is the heart of worship.
Realizing we have been created uniquely, Christian author Gary Thomas identifies nine possible “sacred pathways” that may encourage us to draw closer to the Lord in wholehearted worship. There is freedom in allowing our hearts to respond to loving God as different individuals. Some of his examples of avenues to worship include that we may prefer praying by ourselves versus with a group. We may enjoy worship while walking in the woods or in an art museum. Perhaps our faith is energized by studying the Word with a group or alone. Some of us may want to take extra time to bathe in the ocean of Jesus’ love like Mary of Bethany. Once we understand our spiritual temperaments, we can explore new places for worshiping to nourish our intimate relationship with Jesus.
True worship begins with a humble heart and a sincere love for God. Worship pleasing to God grows as we spend time allowing Him to make Himself known to us. His Spirit prays for us, teaches us through Scripture and tells us we are loved.
Examples of wholehearted worshipers are found throughout history. Because Noah took pleasure in God and obeyed Him completely in the 120-year project to build the ark, we’re alive today! After safely exiting the ark with his family, Noah’s first act was worshiping the Lord (Genesis 8:20). King David enjoyed a musical, celebratory style of worship (1 Chronicles 13:8). King Josiah’s reforms throughout Judah and Samaria were extensive as he turned to the Lord with all his heart, soul and might (2 Kings 23:25). Brother Lawrence, a humble cook in a 17th Century French monastery, worshiped God through the common tasks of life. Known as the “Flying Scot,” gold medalist Eric Liddell said, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”
Finally, Graham Kendrick is one more example of a wholehearted worshiper. He’s one of the world’s most respected worship leaders and was our lead worshiper several times during this past decade. Besides using his God-given gift of song-making and enjoying an intimate relationship with Jesus, he also has a passion for prayer walking. Along with his friend Steve Hawthorne, he coauthored “Prayer Walking: Praying On Site With Insight.” He played a key role in the “March for Jesus” movement, and his song “Shine Jesus Shine” popularized the vision of taking the church onto the streets in praise and worship. On October 27, 2011, while strumming his guitar and singing “Shout to the Lord” and “The Peace,” Graham helped us dedicate our Prayer Trail, an extension of the Bethel Prayer Room.
Even if the outdoors isn’t a usual place for you to worship, I’d like to suggest that you try one of your First 20’s on our Prayer Trail, especially during the New England summer season. Once you do it, it may become a favorite place where your love for the Lord grows as you soak in His creation. “Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of Your presence, Lord” Psalm 89:15 (NLT).
Our God hears,