Isaiah 29:13a The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
Worship is a very humbling experience because it requires us to set aside time to come into the presence of God. As we enter His holiness, we recognize that we are unworthy and unprepared to encounter His sacred Spirit. We also understand that we have come to serve God by acknowledging that He is our Creator, as well as the Controller of our lives. In other words, worship requires us to let go of who we are, in order to let God be who He is. Worship is not about us; it’s all about God.
Being human, we get distracted during worship. Instead of focusing on the Lord, we think about other things – our homes, our families, our work, or our schools. We know that we should meditate and ponder on what the Lord has done, but instead we mull over our problems and allow our minds to wander. Sometimes we miss out on the best parts of worship because our thoughts are elsewhere. We don’t do this deliberately; it’s just that we are human beings who get easily sidetracked.
It’s not a new problem either. Long before there were any cell phones, tablets, or devices, people still got distracted. Even 2,700 years ago, when Isaiah was prophetically given today’s Bible verses, God’s people still found it difficult to focus during worship all of the time. Just like us, they also had their worries, issues, and distractions which is why Isaiah calls them out. The people might have shown up and gathered together to worship God, but their hearts and minds were on other things. They couldn’t sustain their focus on God; they couldn’t free themselves from other diversions.
So does that mean that worship is ineffective? Certainly not. When we gather together in worship, we are with a body of people who greet and befriend us, encourage and support us through both the good and bad times in our lives. We also share wonderful moments when the Spirit touches our hearts and souls together, so that we can build upon our relationships with God and one another. We come together to worship God in church; we leave together to serve God in the world.
Questions for personal reflection
What distracts me during a worship service? How do I get re-focused on God?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for calling us to worship God in church. Thank You for the songs we sing, the prayers we pray, the stories we hear, and the scriptures that are preached. Thank You also for the people who worship alongside us – our families, our friends, our Christian sisters and brothers. Bless the worship we attend and help us to focus on God. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message or ask questions, please send your email to Traqair@aol.com.
Today’s image is one of John’s latest Pentecost drawings. If you would like to view a larger version, please click on this link: Pentecost.