Do you recognize a theme in the following verses?
Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. (Psalm 150)
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! (Psalm 95:1-2)
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100)
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits! (Psalm 103:1-2)
Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph. 5:19-20)
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. (Hebrews 13:15)
That is a lot of Scriptures to make one point! But that is not all of them – there are hundreds more Scriptures that tell us to worship God, to praise Him, and to give Him thanks. We’re commanded to praise him in the sanctuary, in the heavens, all over the earth. We are to make a joyful noise, even if our voice isn’t professional quality. In fact, everything that has breath – mankind and animals – are to praise the Lord. And if we don’t, even the rocks will cry out in praise to God! All of creation declares His glory!
So then, if everything and everyone created by God is supposed to praise Him, shouldn’t we do that in church too? Or especially in His church? Then why are so many churches today content with praise and worship sung by a few and watched by thousands? Why not contend for everyone entering into worship? Shouldn’t everyone be praising our God? Isn’t He worth it?
Think about it. Why do we allow only the most skilled of musicians to sing and play? Why do we use lasers and smoke and multimedia during the songs? To encourage everyone to enter into worship? Or to put on an awesome performance that is fun to watch and will attract people from miles around us?
It is time that we think through how we do our praise and worship in our church services. Do we design them in such a way that most people are spectators or participants? From the Scriptures above we can see that God obviously wants everyone to participate regardless of their singing ability. And yet many churches design their services in ways that make the common person feel like they are inadequate to sing to the Lord or even speak out His praises.
Many worship leaders today – not all, thankfully, but some – need to turn down the volume and the visual effects so that everyone can enter into worship and praise of our God. We need to slow down the show and tell people how much God likes to hear their voice. We need to encourage people to sing along, praising God and giving thanks in their heart instead of sitting back and watching the spectacle.
And yes, this might make some people uncomfortable or embarrassed if they are asked to sing along or lift their hands in praise or kneel before the Lord. Some might even leave the church. But it is a chance that pastors and worship leaders must take because, if they don’t, they are being disobedient to the Lord and failing their flock – people in their congregation will go to their death without ever acknowledging Jesus before men or worshiping God from their heart. They will know about God and have enjoyed listening to the songs but they will have missed out on worshiping God themselves. What a tragedy!
Worship leaders and pastors must have the boldness to exhort people to enter into worship – to open their hearts to the Lord, to open their mouths in praise, to assume a posture of worship and sing with all that is within them. We must have the courage to teach people to praise the Lord by shouting out His praises or getting into small groups and telling others of the good things the Lord is doing in their lives. We must train people to pray for one another and confess their sins one to another in small groups on Sunday mornings as well as in home groups.
All these things – teaching people to worship, to praise, to pray – are not optional. They are clearly commanded in the New Testament. In fact, if we read the Bible and try to live according to its teachings, then we can no longer allow Sunday morning worship performances by a few gifted people be the norm for our churches. Pastors and worship leaders absolutely must lead people to growth in Christ and help them become able to worship, praise, and pray. After all, if we don’t teach them how to worship here on earth, what are they going to do in heaven? Will they even want to be there? Will God want them there?
Questions for Contemplation and Discussion:
How many people appear to enter into praise and worship in your local congregation? What percentage? Most? Half? A few?
What could be done differently to encourage more people to participate?
What is your role in bringing about these changes? Is God calling you to talk to a church leader about it? Is He calling you to pray for your leaders? Is he calling you to get involved in leading worship yourself? Or perhaps becoming a worshiper in your own private times with Him?
Let’s Pray Together:Lord, move among Your people and draw us to Yourself in worship. Give us boldness to give You praise in front of others, even those who don’t know You. Help us overcome our fears of being embarrassed and let us enter into worship of You without shame. Help us to crucify our pride and proudly proclaim that I am a worshipper of God and I need Him in my life. Give our church leaders wisdom in how they can best lead our congregation in giving you worship, praise, and prayers. I pray for the following people as you lead me by Your Spirit today…(continue praying as you feel led)
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