Worship is a Christian’s response to God; it brings one closer to Him. Justin Chiang explores the importance of making worship a lifestyle.
At City Harvest Church this season, weekly sermons and cell group sermons have been focusing on knowing the love of Holy Spirit experientially. One of the most powerful ways to experience God is through worship.
At a virtual missions conference organised by CHC’s The Harvest Network in November last year, Justin Chiang, a pastoral supervisor in the church’s Dialect Service conducted a workshop titled, “How To Worship Alone At Home”. For the last 13 years, Justin has been serving in the praise and worship team of the Dialect Service; he has also been serving in the CHC choir for the last 20 years.
WORSHIPING GOD MUST BE A PRIORITY
One unexpected bonus that came about due to the pandemic was the opportunity for many to slow down in life. Work from home became the norm for most, and spending much more time at home greatly changed the lifestyles of many.
Justin took the opportunity to learn playing worship songs on the keyboard during the lockdown in 2020. He explained that even though his skills were not great, worshipping God is not about honing a skill but about taking time to be with God and communing with Him through song.
In worship, we give God room to move in us and through us. The thoughts of the world, fears, bad news are all replaced by the warmth and comfort of His presence.
As the world moves towards an endemic existence of COVID, life as we all previously knew it is beginning to resume—soon, we will once again be caught up in social pursuits such as hanging out with friends and taking vacations. With the ability for 75 percent of the work force to resume going back to the office, that will also impact daily life. What will happen to a Christian’s quiet time and spiritual life when everything is back to “normal”? Would we be able to upkeep a life of worship when our lives get busier?
Our quiet time and worship should not be an afterthought in our schedule, emphasised Justin. It must not be something we do only when we have nothing else to do. It is a purposeful time that’s dedicated to God, set aside to commune with our Creator. In the same way we need water and food to survive, quiet time and worship are essential to our spiritual life.
WHY IS WORSHIPPING GOD IMPORTANT?
Worship is a lifestyle. It is a response to God given by believers in Jesus Christ. It is not just a ritual we perform.
John 4:23-24 reads, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
This worship comes from our spirits. It involves our total being—our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength, seeking Him in spirit and in truth. Our alone time with God brings us many benefits.
One: Worship brings rest to your soul
Along with lifestyle changes, the pandemic also created mental and emotional stress, and in some cases, strain to relationships. Jesus understands this; He said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
When the Singapore government implemented the Circuit Breaker in April 2020, Justin started working from home like the rest of Singapore. It became a God-given opportunity for him to take care of his father, who was in the final stage of nasopharyngeal cancer.
At that time, the doctor told Justin and his family to prepare for his father’s passing. They decided to bring his father home for the final weeks of his life. It was not easy because Justin and his mother had to look after every aspect from feeding to washing his father daily. To them, it seemed like no one understood how difficult it was to handle everything by themselves.
Justin soon found caregiving impossible to handle on his own strength. He would withdraw to his room the moment his father fell asleep. Even though every fibre of his being urged him to sleep, he would go to his keyboard and start worshipping the Lord. He would pray for God’s presence to recharge him and give him strength.
That short period in God’s presence daily was like a fast-charging charger, enabling Justin to continue on, leaning on the Lord’s divine strength and grace.
People need to learn to disconnect to connect. Just as we stop looking at our mobile phone to give full attention to the person we are talking to, we must remove all possible distractions to build a relationship with God. Troubled thoughts, work and relationship problems must all be left at the door before we come to God.
In our highly efficient world, disconnecting and not doing anything might make us feel guilty. Yet it is vital to take a break and rest in God’s presence. While the Bible warns Christians not to become lazy, it also encourages us to find rest for our soul in Jesus Christ.
Two: Worship makes you mindful of God’s presence
Most of us have fallen into the routine of checking our phones from the moment we open our eyes. Distractions lurk in every corner and every one of them demands our attention. What we don’t realise is that the burden and stress of the world will eventually weigh us down and suffocate us, causing us to be weary.
It is very easy for us to go through our daily life and forget about God.
Christian author Patrick Morley puts it this way, “Whenever a man tells me that he doesn’t feel very close to God, the first question I ask is, ‘Tell me about your devotional life.’ Often the problem is just there.”
When we set aside every distraction and focus on our connection with God, His presence becomes stronger in our everyday life. We will then become more mindful of His presence, and know for sure that He is with us always.
Three: Worship makes us more like Him
Worship changes our lives and how we see our circumstances. It is very easy for us to look at ourselves and feel that we are not worthy. Often during worship, we become even more aware of our sins and weaknesses.
But God’s desire is for all His children to come to Him just as we are, and for us to remember what Jesus has done for us on the cross. As we come to Him, He is able to renew us, heal us and bring us closer to Him. That is how we grow to be more and more like Him (2 Cor 3:18).
HOW TO CREATE THE HABIT OF WORSHIP AT HOME
So how do we begin to develop the habit of worshiping God on our own? Like any new skill, learning to worship requires practice and discipline, not unlike making quiet time a daily practice.
1. Set aside time
Worshipping God does not require you to take the whole day off. Everyone has a different daily schedule, but we need to set aside time from our busy schedule to take a breather and recharge ourselves in the Lord. One suggestion Justin has is to wake up a little earlier to spend some personal time with the Lord.
2. Find a suitable place
Most of us live with other family members, and so we need to find a place with the least distractions. Many pioneers of CHC have shared that when they were young, the toilet was the only place in the house that they could shut themselves in to have quiet time. A study, a corner of a room, even a garden can all serve as a place for worship. One spot that is not advised is on the bed—there is a high chance that you will fall asleep.
3. Play worship music
You can play an instrument or put on worship music using Spotify. Not only does playing worship music shut off the distractions around us, it creates an atmosphere for you to dwell in God’s presence. Let the Spirit of God lead you and guide you in the journey during the worship.
4. Reading the Bible and devotionals
When you’re reading the Bible or any devotional materials, think about what you are able to give praise or thank God for. Is there something that you need to change or surrender to God? Is there a promise that you can claim?
5. Write things down
Take some time to write down the promises of God and what He had spoken to you. Journaling down God’s blessings in your lives and giving thanks to God reminds you of His provision.
Journalling also keep you humble and provides a constant reminder that He is always with you.
Theologian John Piper once said that “the essence of worship is to know God truly and then respond from the heart to that knowledge by valuing God, treasuring God, prizing God, enjoying God, being satisfied with God above all earthly things.”
When you feel overwhelmed by troubles in life, worshipping God will remind you that having Him in your life is enough. It is the surest way to stir up your faith and your spirit.