Music has always spoken to me. I can still remember songs I learned as a child in summer camp and the lyrics that spoke to me as a dramatic teenage girl as if I had just heard them today — and I remember exactly how I felt at the time. I remember the joy and the tears, the peace and the discontent. And the longer I journey with the Lord, the more I believe that He intended for us to attach music to our life experiences in this way.
As much as I enjoy music, I’ll be the first to admit that I am not much of a musician. I learned to play the violin as an elementary school student, but I don’t play anything now. I tried singing in the church choir, but learned pretty quickly that singing wasn’t one of my strengths. However, on a daily basis, I make it a point to worship the Lord with songs: Songs I whisper to Him in the quiet of the morning, songs I sing out loud to Him in the shower, songs I accompany on the radio while driving. I’ve discovered that worship is just as important for my spirit as I believe it is for God to receive it.
Why Worship With Songs?
One of my favorite books in the Bible is the Psalms. Did you know that the book of Psalms is a collection of songs? The more I reflect upon some of my favorite verses in Psalms, the more this makes sense to me. We live in a sin-enslaved world wrought with struggles and faith challenges — much like David (the author of many Psalms) did. What better way to transport ourselves to a place of victory or joy or peace experienced in the past than through a song that captures truth and the emotions of that moment in time?
Worship is not just a musical interlude to warm us up for a message from the pulpit — although sadly, I think that’s exactly what many people today might believe. Worship is an active expression of adoration and thanksgiving, a response to our almighty Creator that recognizes His authority, sovereignty, grace, love, and intervention in our lives. Many times in the Bible, worship is expressed in the form of a song:
“Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things! His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for him.” — Psalm 98:1
“Sing to the Lord a new song, His praise from the end of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants.” — Isaiah 42:10
These are just a couple of many examples throughout Scripture where worshiping the Lord is described as a song. And almost as often, it is described as a “new” song — a new song that captures a new story, a new victory, a new moment in time that must never be forgotten.
There are three reasons why I think it’s important that we make time for worship in our personal lives — not simply reserving our songs for Sunday mornings.
Why Worship is Important: To Refocus Your Life on Him
The definition of worship is to honor, to highly regard, to adore, to esteem, and to devote — another above oneself. From birth, we’re hardwired to operate in selfish mode. We eat, sleep, and exist for the next meal, the next pleasure. As adults, our lives can continue to be driven by selfish desires unless we intentionally fight those instincts — even if we “know” better.
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” — Matthew 26:41
Worship is an active acknowledgement of God’s sovereign place in our lives. Regardless of what we see or what we feel, when we take our eyes off of ourselves and fix them on the Lord, everything around us looks different. I love Francesca Battistelli’s song “Strangely Dim” because it reminds me of this fact everyday.
Why Worship is Important: To Remember
I’m currently working through a Beth Moore Bible study on Deuteronomy called “The Law of Love: Lessons from the Pages of Deuteronomy.” This past week, we talked about how God stressed that Israel remember the WHOLE STORY of their journey from Egypt, through the desert, to the outskirts of the Promised Land. As the new, younger generation of Israel was about to enter this Promised Land, the one thing that could most easily sabotage their success was to FORGET what God had done for them. In the midst of provision, of land flowing with milk and honey, was the temptation to forget that the almighty God of the universe brought them there.
How often do we forget those close encounters with God and His hand of deliverance when we are enjoying the peaceful plenty? When the stormy seas have been calm for a while, how easy is it to get comfortable and bask in the glow — and be completely caught off guard by the next hurricane?
“And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” — Deuteronomy 8:2
I don’t know about you, but I have walked through some wilderness experiences. I have been humbled and tested. Worship songs that capture times of sole dependence on the Lord and remind me of His deliverance strengthen my faith months and years later. When I sing them now, I’m transported to those moments when every breath depended on His strength, and my faith is strengthened and refreshed anew.
A song that reminds me of God’s deliverance from a particularly dark valley in my life is Kari Jobe’s “Steady My Heart.” I can remember exactly how I felt when I needed God’s strength to steady my heart, and I praise Him for how He met me there and freed me from anxiety and fear by reminding me that I could count on Him always.
Why Worship is Important: To Renew Your Mind
Our battle as believers today starts in the mind. Satan is called “the prince of the air” in the New Testament, and he has domain over the content of the “air” — in the worldly realm. Think about all of the mental inputs you deal with daily: How many of them are feeding you the truth of the scriptures? If they’re not carrying that message, what is the message that you’re predominately receiving?
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” — Ephesians 6:12
Memorizing scripture and laying a foundation of God’s truth is vital in the battle of the mind; however, I think that worship is also an important weapon in this battle. Worship that reinforces the truth of God’s Word in your mind is very powerful during difficult struggles. Words of worship counteract the lies that plague your mind, whether you are in the midst of a trial or in a peaceful place of renewal. In my experience, worship is extremely effective in the process of renewing your mind and being able to trust and hope in the Lord in the midst of trials.
“Whom Shall I Fear?” by Chris Tomlin reinforces a biblical truth that specifically counteracts lies I have been fighting this past year. The more I sing it, the more readily those words of Scripture come to mind when the enemy tries to whisper a message to the contrary.
As I shared last month, I’ve made a new daily habit of spending time with God alone first thing in the morning. I love to worship the Lord when it’s just the two of us — especially since I’m no singer. I continue to sing in the shower, and I keep worship music playing in my room even after I head downstairs for the day. I also keep the car radio tuned to Christian radio all day as we go about our daily business.
Making a choice to maintain an atmosphere of worship through the music I select for daily life is anything but legalistic for me. I don’t do it because I think I should, but because I want to be in God’s presence — my spirit craves it, and I know God is honored by it. I’m not a “stickler” about music in general: I don’t cover my ears at Zumba class, and I used to enjoy watching American Idol with my girls.
This message is not about the music. It’s about the opportunity to worship. I purposefully choose music that uplifts my spirit and brings me back to a place of worship whenever possible. Worship is integral to our walk with the Lord. If you’re not already making a daily practice of personal worship time with the Lord, I highly encourage you to do so.
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” — Psalm 150:6
How do you define worship? What ways to do you worship God on your own? Does music speak to you? Do you think worship through songs is important? Why or why not? Share your thoughts about personal worship in the comments section below.