By Claudine Lehman
When I think about praying and quiet times or journal times, I am reminded of a story I once read in a devotional by Dr. Garth Leno:
A little girl from a very poor family was in the hospital. The nurse brought her a glass filled to the brim with milk. This was the first time the girl had ever had a whole glass of milk all to herself. At home she always had to share with her brothers and sisters.
When the nurse made her rounds again she found the glass still full. “Why didn’t you drink it?” she asked. “Do you need some help?”
“No, ma’am,” replied the girl. “You didn’t tell me how deep I could drink.”
The nurse, knowing of the girl’s poverty, fought back tears. “Drink all of it,” she said tenderly. “I brought this whole glass just for you.”
How often in our spiritual lives do we settle for just little sips? Just enough to keep from getting completely dehydrated spiritually . . . just enough to salve our consciences . . . just a little bit here and there. We rush through a few verses, write down a thought or two and then rush on with our days.
And yet, in John 4:14 Jesus offers us the satisfying water of eternal life. He wants us to drink deeply . . . abundantly. I’m sure each of us knows the mechanics of a personal time with God. There are books and conferences unending telling us how to do that. For years I mechanically went about doing my quiet times in the most popular method of the day—the Nav’s way, Pastor Goltz’s way, Curt Lehman’s way, Anne Ortland’s way . . . .
All this was well and good. Spending time in God’s Word is never for naught. But I often felt there had to be more. Somehow I wanted the absolute assurance I was on the same page with God—that I could know Him in a very personal way.
Over time, God has led me through some soul-changing truths. Dr. Tozer’s book, What Ever Happened to Worship, was an eye-opener for me. I came to realize that my personal time with God had to become a time of worship—the genuine and sacred offering of myself to God—and it must start with a willingness to seek God.
I would like to share some fundamental truths I’ve learned about worship. We’ll look at four of them today and the rest next week. These truths are what keep me going when I want to quit—quit my quiet times . . . my journaling . . . my times of prayer. I hope they will encourage you to see your relationship with God in a whole new light because, first and foremost, it’s the relationship we are after.
- Genuine worship can only come through a personal encounter with God at Salvation. That encounter occurred the day I saw myself a sinner and realized the need for repentance, which produced a change in the direction I was going. We are saved from sin to worship God (not to go to heaven, not to be a better person). The chief end of man is “to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever” (Westminster Creed).In our personal, intimate times with God we are saying, “It’s all about YOU, God. Not about me.” We are brought to God and to faith and to salvation that we might worship and adore Him. God’s blessings and benefits are innumerable, but they are not the object of our worship. God alone is worthy of our worship.
- At the point of my salvation, God made a worshiper out of a rebel. Before I invited Jesus Christ to take His rightful place in my life, I was in rebellion to Him. I was going my own way. I didn’t listen to Him or obey Him or even want to. I may not have looked like a rebel, but I was. Why? Because I was not going in the same direction God was going. At salvation, He restored me to the place of worship.
Adam and Eve knew that first place of worship—in the Garden of Eden—that place God created just for them. This was a place where God and man could walk and talk in perfect harmony. They had sweet and constant fellowship.
Then sin entered the world. The harmony was broken. The worship and adoration stopped. In fact, Adam and Eve ran from God. They hid from Him. And the human race has been running and hiding ever since.
BUT GOD. What a wonderful, powerful little phrase. But God—because He loved this rebellious human race—provided salvation through His son, Jesus Christ. Just think of it! Jesus, the perfect, sinless Son of God Almighty came to earth and died on the cross so your position with the Father could be restored. Now you and I have the profound privilege of having an intimate relationship with God.
What wonderful, unconditional love! And how often we take it for granted.
- We were created for worship. We were created in the very image of God. He has built into each of us the capacity to know Him and the instinct to worship Him. There is a kinship with Him my soul knows, and it yearns to worship Him.
In his book Inside Out, Larry Crab says, “Beneath the surface of everyone’s life, is an ache that will not go away. It can be ignored, disguised, mislabeled, or submerged by a torrent of activity, BUT IT WILL NOT DISAPPEAR. And for good reason. We were designed to enjoy a better world than this. And until that better world comes along, we will groan for what we do not have. An aching soul is evidence not of neurosis or spiritual immaturity, but of realism.”
This “ache” will never completely leave until we are at Home with Him. Someday the void will be completely filled with Him in His presence in heaven, but until then, there will always be a feeling that something is missing.
In the meantime, while we are here in this world, what are we doing to fill that void? Do we seek Him, or do we try to fill that God-given void with other things?
- True worship of God must be a constant and consistent attitude within. Do you know what God’s highest desire is for you, His believing child? It is for you to love and so adore Him that you are continuously in His presence. You don’t wait for the few moments a day you call your quiet time or for Sunday morning worship—as great as it may be. True worship is a sustained state of mind where we are continuously conscious of His presence.
BUT, we are all still human. That sustained state of mind will always be subject to degrees of perfection and intensity. We are not perfect and intensity is often lacking. It’s so easy to get off track . . . to let down . . . to start looking horizontally at people, circumstances and things.
Whenever I lead in worship or teach on worship I have a fear of appearing to be righteious or religious . . . of setting myself up as having arrived or being perfect. Believe me, I am still on the way . . . still in process. Ever learning and often failing.
But the great thing about all this is that’s where God comes in. Next week we’ll look at a few final truths which talk about God’s role in our worship.
Which of the four truths we learned today resonated most deeply with you? Why?
Again this week, focus on the character and works of God from a Psalm of your choice. Worship, praise, adore and honor God for WHO HE IS totally apart from your problems, needs or wants. Write down your thoughts in your worship journal. Then, turn your thoughts about God’s character into a prayer for your requests.