In church yesterday, tears prickled my eyes. In full disclosure, this is not an unusual occurrence for me. I tend to cry when I am moved by the spirit, whether it be because I am immersed in a worship song or praying over a struggling member of the congregation. But yesterday, the tears stung my eyes for a different reason. We were singing in worship, and a man with snow-white hair raised his arms in praise. The man, probably near 80 years old, was literally embracing the music with open arms. And something about that sight moved me.
As I thought more about it, I realized why this man’s visible sign of worship impacted me. It was his age. In a church with multiple services, this man could have attended the sanctuary service with a 100-member choir who sing powerful gospel songs. Instead, he opted to go to the laidback and informal gym service, with a passionate (and loud) worship band. The man was definitely among the oldest in the service. If he had grown up attending church, it would have been before worship songs were popular. He would have known only hymns; a band playing electric guitars, keyboards, and a drum set would certainly not be leading worship.
And yet there he was, embracing contemporary worship, lost in praise as we sang Chris Tomlin’s “Our God” as one. The white-haired man had found worship. He tried something different than most 80-year-olds would and found worship in a new experience. So many Christians cling to their customs and traditions with the insistence of, “worship must be this way.” So many are lost wondering how to really worship God. They fear to step outside their comfort zones and go on singing the same songs, praying the same prayers, reading the same scriptures. But there is so much more worship to be found if you are willing to try something new.
How Do We Worship God?
There is no wrong way to worship, as long as it is done to please God. In John 4:23-24, Jesus said that we are to “worship the Father in spirit and truth.” You cannot just go through the motions in worship; nor can you put on a show to make yourself appear holy. But if your worship is centered in spirit and truth, you are doing it right.
Loud praise music or quiet hymns, memorized prayers or words were spoken off-the-cuff, in a sanctuary or a gym, it is all worship. It’s time to break the chains of monotony in worship and find worship in a different way. This does not mean that you cannot go back to the traditions that you find meaningful. It is a beautiful thing and a gift from God to be able to find Him in a familiar song or prayer. But we should not be shackled to only one type of worship.
If you are looking for new, creative ways to worship, here are six great ideas to try:
1. Attend a different service or church. Unless you are employed by your church and obligated to be at a certain service, this is easy to do. For one week, go to an unfamiliar church that has different traditions than you are accustomed to. Sing different songs and listen to a different pastor speak. Maybe find a church that incorporates drama or praise dance. Watch, listen and let your guard down to embrace the scene around you. You might be surprised to find that a different type of worship speaks to your heart and connects you to God in a way you’ve never experienced before.
2. Speak non-memorized prayers from the heart. At mealtimes, forgo the memorized “God is great, God is good prayer,” and avoid cliches of “blessing the hands that prepared” the food. There is nothing wrong with these prayers, but you can easily spice things up by singing a blessing or going around the table and having each person thank God for a part of the meal. The rest of the time, engage God in conversation all day, every day. Here is a tip from me: I rarely say “amen.” That utterance of “let it be so” gives me a feeling of finality to my prayer. And I don’t ever want to finish my conversation with God.
3. Start a prayer journal. In it, don’t just write your prayers. Write scriptures, write prayer requests for others, write a praise poem, or whatever else you feel will connect you to God in worship. Use Philippians 4:8 to inspire your writing: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.”
4. Add art into the mix. If you are artistic, create something while listening to music that brings you closer to God or while listening to a recording of scripture. As you paint, sculpt, knit, quilt, craft, or create any other type of art, meditate on scripture and think about the amazing gift that God gave you when He made your hands. Let the wonder creation inspire your work, and see the incredible art that can come out of it.
5. Embrace nature. For those of you who love the outdoors, you can worship while in God’s creation, instead of inside a church building. Go to a local trail or park and pray with your eyes open to the wonders around you. Look at the grass, the trees, any sources of water, and animals. Marvel in the fact that God made it all. Here in the middle of God’s creation, you can pray, you can sing, or you can just take a moment and enjoy everything He made for you.
6. Worship with your body. Walk. Run. Bike. Swim. Dance. Try a Christian yoga class (a yoga class that focuses on centering your heart on God). Whatever active interests you have, dedicate them to God. Pray before you begin the activity, and take time to thank God for the ability to move. You can even do your activities to God’s glory by challenging yourself with a charity run or walk. Embrace the interests you have because God is the one who gave them to you.
We all want to grow in our faith and progress in our faith journeys. One way to do this is by having the courage to try something new. Remember that there is no wrong way to worship, but that worship can be found everywhere! Take a chance by leaving your comfort zone and worshiping in a different way. God will be pleased by your worship, and you may find yourself closer to God than ever before.
What are some of your favorite ways to worship? Share how you find quiet time with God in the comments below!
Carrie Dedrick is the Family Editor of Crosswalk.com.