Monday, March 10, 2008

The Discipline of Worship

As Richard Foster continues to kick my butt through his book, Celebration of Discipline, I want to continue to share it with you so I'm not going through it alone. So get ready for a beating!

This week's chapter is on worship. That is a word thrown around an awful lot in churches today. You have worship services, worship music, worship leaders, worship folders - and I believe all are valid uses of the word as an adjective. But, what does the word worship mean all by itself? Here's a few passages from the book that helped me clarify what worship is, and is not.

(Worship) is kindled within us only when the Spirit of God touches our
human spirit. We can use all the right techniques and methods, we can have the
best possible liturgy, but we have not worshiped the Lord until Spirit touches

We are free in Christ to use whatever forms will enhance our worship, and if any
form hinders us from experiencing the living Christ - too bad for the form.

I think I knew what worship was before I read this chapter, but sometimes my definition of things changes without me knowing it. I sort of viewed worship as a one-way street - it was all about my outpouring of worship on God. But I now see that it involves an interaction.

There was a tiny phrase that caught my attention about halfway through the chapter. It was in a section titled The Priority of Worship:

Activity is the enemy of adoration.

The reason this hit me so hard is because I see it so clearly in my life. I see it with my (lack of) worship, but also with my wife, children and friends. If I'm too busy to spend time with them, how can I properly adore them?

One of the best things about this book is its practicality. Foster is good at giving pointers on how to start training yourself to improve on each discipline. He never makes his suggestions as though they are required, only a possible way to get started. So, here's seven tips for worship:

1. Learn to practice the presence of God daily.
2. Have many different experiences of worship.
3. Find ways to really prepare for the gathered experience of worship.
4. Have a willingness to be gathered in the power of the Lord.
5. Cultivate holy dependency.
6. Absorb distractions with gratitude.
7. Learn to offer a sacrifice of worship.

Finally, here are two sentences that hit home toward the end of the chapter:

If worship does not propel us into greater obedience, it has not been
worship. To stand before the Holy One of eternity is to change.


Dan & Nancy Erickson said...

Good stuff Dan. I'm going to need to get new pants once we get done from having my butt kicked so much.

Rachel said...

man, this book is kinda hard to get through. i tried reading it like it was a "light" read, with hubby and kids and chaos and noise around and couldn't absorb or understand anything. only in the quite places i rarely visit can i truely read this book and "get" it. i'm glad you continue to post about it. makes me feel like i've got a "butt been kicked real good" partner, even if only through cyberspace.
good stuff, dan. thanks for the influence.