Improving Our Worship
The New Testament tells us what early Christians did in their worship and also the manner in which it was done. It is not up to man to invent ways to improve worship apart from the word of God. John 4:24 records, “God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” If I practice something in worship for which there is no scriptural authority or if I have an attitude of bitterness in my heart when I worship, such is unacceptable before God (MT 5:23–24). Therefore, worshiping God acceptably involves doing what God says and doing it from a sincere heart.
God deserves my best. Obviously, as a disciple of the Lord, I can worship God at any time and in any place. However, as a Christian, I have the responsibility and privilege to assemble with fellow disciples. Even though there are times when we worship with others in an assembly, worship is still an individual matter. What can I do to improve my worship?
How can I improve my worship in song? Passages such as 1 CR 14:15, EP 5:19, and CL 3:16 teach us to sing with spirit, with understanding, with a melody in your heart and with a heart filled with grace. The command to sing involves my learning something about singing. If I am a song leader in song worship, I need to learn to lead singing to the best of my ability.
How can I improve my worship in partaking of the Lord’s Supper? It is obvious that the early disciples partook of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of every week (AC 2:42; 20:7). However, according to 1 CR 11:23–29, I must partake of the bread and the fruit of the vine in memory of Christ. I must discern the Lord’s death till he comes again. Sometimes it helps me in my discernment to read scriptures or lyrics to songs that take my mind back to the cross.
How can I improve my worship in teaching and hearing God’s word? As a preacher of truth, I can improve my worship in proclaiming the Word when I speak with all boldness (AC 4:29). My worship in preaching will be more effective when I preach in the spirit of meekness and humility (GL 6:1–2). I must also speak with love in my heart; not only for my Lord, but also for the same people He loves (1CR 13:1).Those who hear the gospel are also worshiping while listening. As a hearer, I should receive the message with all readiness of mind just like the Bereans (AC 17:11). The worshipful hearer not only receives the Word but also embraces it (believes) and obeys.
How can I improve my worship in praying to God? As one leading the prayer, I need to prepare myself. The lack of preparation in prayer often leads to wordy repetition. I need to pray loud enough that the congregation can hear the words and be able to say “A-men.” The scripture teaches me to pray with spirit, understanding and faith. I need to be enthusiastic when I pray and mean every word that I say. On the other hand, as a listener to a public prayer, I need to concentrate on what is being said while having an attitude of prayer in my heart.
How can I improve my worship in giving? The Bible teaches me to give on the first day of the week, as I have prospered, as I have purposed, and to give cheerfully, willingly and bountifully (1 CR 16:1–2; 2 CR 8:7–8; 8:12; 9:5–7). I believe it is as essential to learn the truth about giving as it is to learn the truth about partaking of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of each week or about singing praises to God without instrumental music. To not give as God instructs will make my worship vain.
My worship needs to be improved if, in any way, it is according to the commandments of men rather than instruction from God. My worship needs to be improved when it is only from my mouth and not from my heart. Whatever we can do that is in harmony with God’s expressed will - to worship according to truth and to worship from our hearts - needs to be put into practice. And remember- true worship glorifies our heavenly Father and edifies our brothers and sisters in Christ.
R.J. Stevens was one of the truly great men I’ve been privileged to know. His influence on worship in song will be felt for generations. Rest well, my friend. Rest well. - Don