SPIRITUAL LIFE | WORSHIP
CADET BETHANY HOWARD writes about her experience and study of the discipline of Worship. . . For just over a month I have been practicing the discipline of worship and it has been interesting to see the doors which God has opened for me. I had the opportunity to attend a Youth Together Retreat in British Columbia. There, I sat in on a session about worship and what worship really is. The leader talked about the importance and honour it is to lead worship. He explained the importance of readying your heart and opening it to Spirit as you lead everyone else in time with God. He said that when you open your heart to God, He can give you great sensitivity to the Spirit and help you discern how to lead. Allowing yourself to be led by the Spirit, can make the difference of whether or not you get something out of the experience. I was able to take this and use it as I worshiped over the course of the weekend and beyond that time.
Originally I found it was difficult to be open to the Spirit during worship times at camp. All around me people were shouting words of praise and adoration to God and singing and dancing like no one was watching. I was having a hard time just being free and worshiping God. I began to watch the youth and leaders worshiping and I found myself worshiping through others. Seeing them praise God in creative and very real ways, I could feel the Spirit moving in me. I even found myself being moved to tears. As time went on I was able to participate beyond just singing and really worshiped God as if no one was watching, because God was and is my only audience. I knew that I would be able to connect with God if I allowed myself to be free to worship.
That weekend we had a night of prayer, and we worshiped God in different and creative ways. There were times of singing, painting, shouting out names and descriptions of who God is to us, and group prayer. We had a time of opening our hearts to God to reveal to us people who we needed to forgive and then praying over those situations. I feel as though prayer and worship go hand in hand. Prayer opens your heart to a worshipful mindset. During this specific time of prayer it was definitely a time of worship as well.
Since camp, I have intentionally been trying to find new avenues to worship. One way was to prepare my heart before worship services, praying for the hearts of others, and the person leading. The largest struggle with this is that those around you do not always know or respect when you are trying to quiet your heart towards God. The solution to this would either be to make it clear to others, or you could simply go off on your own to a quiet place prior to the service.
I have been surprised by times which I did not intend to be worshipful, but because I have been opening my heart to God in different ways, He has began to bless me in new ways. I was able to have a worshipful moment at the Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards. I found myself praying as I sat alone waiting for the show to start. The show began, and there was a drum dance as the show opener. At that moment I could feel the presence of God. The song they sang kept saying, “Get up everyone, and join hands tonight. This is who we are, bringing people together. Celebrating, singing and dancing for you.” As I watched them dancing, united in song, I felt I was in the presence of God. Once again, I was moved to tears by the Spirit of God. Though this was not a Christian event, God was there and He was speaking to me. It was not through a worship song, but I used that song as worship to my Lord and Saviour.
In my times alone with God, I have heard Him speaking to me. I believe that when you open up your heart to God in worship, it opens up more opportunities to hear what He has to say to you. I took time to worship God by digging into his Word and by listening to music that brought me into His presence. Even during times of working on assignments or while cooking, I have put on music. While doing these everyday mundane things, I have used those opportunities to worship God.
As I have tried to make my life a life of worship, I find myself being more conscious of what is going on and the words I am saying. I recognize that living a life of worship reminds you that you are always in God’s presence. I constantly catch myself saying things, doing things, watching things on TV and then right away hearing a voice saying, “Is this worshipful or pleasing to God?” The challenge with this is discerning what in my life is pleasing to God, and what I should change in my life to make it fit into a life of worship.
After practicing this discipline intentionally I want to continue to strive to live a life that is worshipful . It will be a struggle at times, but God knows I am not perfect. As long as I am trying to continually worship Him, He will continue to bless me. As I continue to live a life of worship, my biggest question will be how can I continue to do this in new and interesting ways? I tend to have a short attention span and need new and interesting ways to keep my attention. Knowing that my mind has a hard time focusing, it is important that I constantly change my ways of worship so that I can continue to maintain my life of worship.
As part of their Spiritual Formation class, first year cadets (the Friends of Christ) were asked to choose a spiritual discipline to research and practice, and to submit an essay about that experience.