There are times when I go to church and I feel rotten. I don’t bother singing along to the worship songs because I’m not feeling the music. Usually, by the end of the worship, I loosen up and feel better and I will sing the last couple of songs.
There are other times when I get right into the worship. I feel God’s presence and I pray for God’s power to change me from the inside. I feel a peace knowing that as I worship Him He is changing me and I praise Him for it. I see worshiping Him as a way for me to grow spiritually.
One morning I was feeling rotten. It had been a while since I really engaged in the worship part of the service. As I stood there slumped over and miserable, something was mentioned from the front about the persecution of the church. I had been taught about the importance of remaining steadfast in obedience to God during times of persecution and I had always assumed that I would do so. But I began to wonder if I would really praise God openly if it was illegal since I wouldn’t even do it while it was legal. I began to wonder what was so important about worship that God would want us to do it even when faced with persecution.
As I sat there feeling rotten, I figured it must not be something I should do only when I feel well. I decided that I should do it simply because God enjoyed it and because what was said in the songs was true. Praising God was serving Him because of who He was.
So I come into a lot of services grumpy and tired, and I praise God knowing that He is not looking at how I feel but at where my heart is, and while I’m praising Him, my heart is on Him.
I have also wondered why God enjoys praise. Of the many reasons, one must simply be that He loves us and wants us to love Him back. When He looks down on the world that He created, the people Jesus died for, He sees mostly hearts and minds that are set on themselves. Most hearts are turned from God in rebellion – some in ignorance and some even in hatred. Even when He looks at His own people, many hearts are turned away. But when His people are praising His name, He looks down and sees us looking back, aware of how wonderful He truly is.
I was looking up at a clear and starry night sky once and I wondered what God saw when He looked down. The thought came to me that He saw what I saw as I looked up – lights scattered throughout the darkness. The lights are groups of people worshipping together in the mist of the oblivious masses.
I know that praise pleases God, and one day the whole Earth will be filled with the knowledge of His glory, but until then, no matter how rotten I feel, I want to be among those who look back at Him and sing the truth of how wonderful He really is.