Admit it: you’ve been standing for worship at a church service in the past and have found yourself asking, “How many times are they going to sing the chorus? We’re going back to the bridge again?” Many people tire of hearing the same chord progressions or lyrics multiple times, so don’t feel bad. I believe those thoughts are perfectly normal. On the other hand, I believe it’s perfectly normal for the worship team to circle back around to a powerful proclamation.
I had this epiphany when my grandparents and I were discussing our church’s music for a conference last year. We agreed that the worship was wonderful, but my grandfather asked the above questions. It made me think about how various styles of praise and worship engage people in different ways. My grandfather was raised in an environment of traditional hymns, such as “Amazing Grace” and “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.” While I playfully told him, “Yeah, but hymns have about sixteen verses themselves,” I did admit that they hardly reproduce the same words. No repetition but still beautiful and meaningful. So why, in today’s worship, must we repetitively belt out the same four lines, slowing the song down only to ramp it up again?
When we spend time in worship, we allow our hearts to become pliable. God has room and time to change us. We slow a song down to let the words sink in and simmer, and then, once we have grasped (as best as a human can) God’s message to us, we bring our proclamations back to a roar. For example, it makes sense to continuously sing “No love is higher. No love is wider. No love is deeper. No love is truer” because it’s affirming the truth about our Heavenly Father’s heart toward us. We’re more prone to surrender our hearts when we know the heart of the One we’re giving them to.
There’s a difference in singing something because we know it in our heads and singing something because we know it in the deepest parts of ourselves. I can hear someone tell me a truth but not accept it until I discover it for myself in my own encounter with God. Worship time is the time to discover and encounter. While scripture doesn’t specifically say that God inhabits the praises of His people, Psalm 22:3 says of Him, “But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel” (NKJV). It’s hard to imagine that the Holy Spirit would not come upon us and dwell within our praises.
I mean, we know He delights in our singing because He loves singing over us. In Zephaniah 3:17, Zion is being assured: “The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (NKJV). It’s the worship team’s job to help usher in an atmosphere that is pleasing to the Lord. By reiterating all the truths of God, we allow Him to come and meet us in the holy of holies.
With new revelations of our Maker, we want to repeat an idea or concept and shout praises to Him. The word “revelation” means “a surprising and previously unknown fact.” I don’t know about you, but when I learn something surprising, I let out an exclamation: “Oh! Oh, yeah! Wow!” Take the angels in heaven as a perfect example of this situation. In Isaiah and Revelation, we read that they are constantly crying “Holy, holy, holy!” Revelation 4:8 declares, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” It goes on to explain that the twenty-four elders fall before the King, casting their crowns before Him and worshiping Him because He is worthy and has created all things! He deserves glory and honor, and because of that, the angels continue to proclaim, “Holy, holy, holy!”
Ultimately, worship isn’t for us. It brings us inspiration, yes. It molds our hearts. In fact, worship strengthens us to step out into the darkest places where we can bring God’s light. But it’s not for self-satisfaction; it’s not meant to cater to us or what we like. It’s not meant to make us comfortable. If you’re feeling uncomfortable in worship, God may very well be revealing the need for a heart check.
Worship is, first and foremost, for Him, the Creator. What if every time we worshiped, we learned a new, surprising fact about Him? I believe we always should be receiving revelation of Him because He is endless, limitless. Would we not shout back to Him what knowledge we’ve just come into? I know I would, and I do. God never ever leaves or forsakes me? “Yes, God! You are always with us!” God is Jehovah Jireh, my Provider? “Hallelujah, You make sure I always have what I need!” I continue to express the goodness of the Father, and I, in my own way, proclaim, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty!”
For the first post in the Powerful Words Series, click here.
Featured Image by Diana Simumpande