What does worship look like? Does it look like singing? I think it can look like singing. It I also believe that singing can often masquerade as worship. Singing can also satisfy the ego and contribute to worship of self.
I remember years ago thinking this when I was hearing a performance of “special music” at church when I was a teenager. As I listened to the performer song her song, it felt too professional, to much like a concert celebrating her skill and talent than worship. Being a kid, what do I know, it I am certain this is a danger many musicians face in making “worship” music.
It seems to be that singing, done with lips and mind seems to rarely come from the heart anymore. For it to truly come from the heart, it needs to be sung, learned, and felt. There are songs we learn, new songs, and many of those too often, always being inundated with new music because the industry is always trying to make new music to make more money. I don’t blame them for trying to make money, and some music will affect some more than others. But at my church, it seems it new music week every week. I can’t learn it fast enough and thus is doesn’t touch me because I’m still trying to decide as I learn it, it is theologically sound? It is something I can sing truthfully? Or is this someone else’s experience I’m trying to ape for the sake of singing a worship song? A lot of worship music is someone else’s experience of worship, not necessarily mine.
On the flip side, I’ve been in churches where the music is too familiar. We’ve sung it every week so that my mind and lips and song without accessing the heart. Those songs near little resemblance to my modern context. They are often filled with words that I don’t use in my everyday, so that “raise my ebenezer” doesn’t mean anything to me. Granted there are many good old songs, but hearing them played by discount musicians or whoever “we could get to play this morning” often leaves me wanting.
I guess I am particular about my worship, or maybe it’s worship fatigue. Church tried very hard to pass music off as worship that we don’t know what else is worship, like silent meditation in God’s word, prayer, reading aloud the psalms, or seeing God’s glorious handiwork. We have become so accustomed to music as worship that we haven’t given room to much else. Is singing worship? It can be. But singing a Christian song doesn’t make it worship. Worship comes from the heart.
Help me dear Lord offer worship today that comes from my spirit, not just my lips and my mind. Help me to worship, even to use words when necessary. You alone are worthy of my praise and honor. Help me Lord to give glory to You in all things. I pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.