“You don’t want to hear me sing.”
That has been my refrain through the years whenever I have been asked, “Do you lead worship?” I’m not a terrible singer. I’m even an adequate guitarist. But as long as there are other options, I am convinced that you would rather not resort to inflicting my brand of worship-leading on any group.
Which is why I was surprised to find that incorporating a personal worship time to my existing devotional life would add so much to that time.
The terrible singers amongst us have often been reminded that Scripture only commands us to “make a joyful noise to the Lord” (Ps. 100:1). But our worship gatherings are led by individuals who have often studied music or are at least gifted in some aspect of playing and/or performing music. The rest of us are encouraged to sing along with the group at the appropriate time where our “joyful noises” can be swept up in the wave of worship and (hopefully) be mostly indistinguishable from the crowd.
A Limited Theology of Worship
I wonder how you reacted to the idea of a “personal worship time” when you saw this blog’s title. When I incorporated a personal worship time into my devotional life, I called it all kinds of other things. I labeled it “song of the day,” “reflection song,” and a few other things before determining to call a spade a spade. This was a time of personal worship.
Why did I resist? In part, it’s because I’ve been conditioned to think that worship through song is something we do collectively as the church. Yes, there are all kinds of ways that we worship and worship is ultimately our lifestyle. But that particular kind of worship is reserved for corporate gatherings with other believers.
But should it be? The Psalms are full of exhortations to worship the Lord, ascribe glory to Him, praise Him, and thank Him. Some of those are corporate exhortations. Many are an individual’s statements of praise and worship that were later incorporated into corporate gatherings.
Corporate worship is good, but if your theology limits the use of musical worship to corporate gatherings then, like mine was, your theology of worship is limited.
Putting it Into Practice
The basic formula through which my devotional life has functioned for most of my life has been:
- Opening prayer
- Scripture reading/study
- Closing prayer
This is by no means the only way to structure a devotional life, but I’ve found that it’s given me a lot of freedom to experiment with different components along the way. For me, the easiest place to slot in a personal worship time was in response to what I read through Scripture for the day. My worship time initiated my reflection time but flowed out of what God said to me through Scripture for the day.
I made a Spotify playlist of worshipful/meaningful songs. Each morning, after my Scripture reading, I found a song that elaborated on something that stood out from my Scripture reading for the day. Sometimes it was a song of praise. Sometimes it was a song of remembrance. Sometimes it was a song that expressed sorrow or longing.
Every time it was worshipful.
I still enjoy corporate worship, but these times of personal worship that are directly tied into what I feel in my heart each day and what God has directly said to me through my reading of Scripture have become some of the more meaningful moments of intimacy and connection with the Father that I’ve had in a long time. In this season when many of us are either restricted from or choosing to not attend worship gatherings for safety considerations, cultivating a personal worship time could be a revolutionary development in your faith.