Ever since I can remember, worship was an essential part of my life. Growing up in church, it was always an indispensable thread woven through the fabric of my faith. My parents sang in the choir, and I played the drums on various worship teams in multiple churches since high school.
However, it wasn’t until I was an adult that my definition of worship was challenged. In his book, Sacred Pathways, Gary Thomas Identifies nine ways in which people connect with God through worship. The naturalist, sensate, traditionalist, ascetic, activist, caregiver, enthusiast, contemplative and intellectual are who Thomas identifies as unique worshipers of God. An enthusiast might feel closer to God when singing songs of gratitude to God with excitement, but a naturalist may feel just as close to God in the great outdoors, thanking him for the beauty of creation. What Thomas attempted to convey in his book is that we all uniquely worship God, and we should respect and celebrate the diverse ways in which we connect with the creator of the universe. This was a breath of fresh air for me, because I did not have to feel like a failure when I just couldn’t naturally be enthusiastic during a modern worship service like others seemed to do so effortlessly. It was okay if I was quiet and still while my friends around me were doing somersaults in the aisle.
However, I do believe that the modern way in which we worship God in the church through song is very, very important! In fact one of the most reiterated commands or declarative words in the scripture is the word, “sing.” Here are just a few from the Old Testament:
“Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes; to the Lord I will sing, I will make melody
to the Lord, the God of Israel.” Judges 5:3
“But let all who take refuge in You rejoice, let them ever sing for joy; and
defend them, that those who love Your name will exult you.” Psalm 5:11
“Sing aloud unto God our strength; make a joyful noise unto the God
of Jacob.” Psalm 81:1
“Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with
all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!” Zephaniah 3:14
More importantly, I believe there is something powerful that is unleashed in the heavens when we sing out the greatness of God. In 2 Chronicles 19-20, the nation of Judah was under attack by the nations of Moab, Ammon, and Edom. Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, told his people, “Believe in the Lord and you’ll be successful.” He then appointed people to sing to the Lord. They went out in front of the army singing, “Give thanks to the Lord. His faithful love endures forever.”
As the people shouted and praised the Lord, suddenly their enemy became confused. The Ammonites and the Moabites turned on those from Edom and totally annihilated them. They then turned on one another and kept killing until every man was dead. When the army of Judah arrived on the battle field, there was nothing but corpses lying on the ground. No one had escaped. How did Judah win the battle when they were under siege from the enemy on all sides? They sang aloud to their God, and He delivered them.
In what has now become a tradition at Christ’s Chapel, the first Saturday of the month at 922 is a night dedicated to worshiping God through song. The testimonies we hear of God delivering people from addiction and healing them from physical and emotional pain in these services never cease to amaze me. I do believe this happens because when people come together and with one voice desperately sing out to their God, He responds by unleashing heaven upon them in a powerful display of his great affection. Our songs that declare His greatness not only confuse the enemy, but they remind him of his demise. He has no choice but to give way to the victorious King.