When God Feels Far Away While Worshipping

When God Feels Far Away While Worshipping

[This is last post in the Experiencing Remarkable Worship devotional series]

I’m a worship leader. Some people look pained during the worship time, others in ecstasy. I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum. I look at a time of worshipping God as being intertwined with our relationship with Him. It’s an important part of how we become closer and interact with Him. As I’ve allowed God to free my heart, I desire for everyone else to find the same joy. For years I pondered what I could do to convince more of God’s people to engage in worship. That’s why I wrote this series.

But what if God still feels far away?

When I’ve been there, I go through a mental list of hindrances. Do I have unrepented sin? Am I in a spiritual Sahara? Do I feel hurt by others or even God?

I always want to have the best time with God that I can, so I want to unpack one important question:

Is He my Lord, or just my Savior?

What does that mean? Jesus has saved my sin; He is my Savior. But it doesn’t stop there. After I become saved, Jesus also becomes my Lord.

A lord is someone who possesses power, authority, or influence; a master over my life.

When I am worshipping, am I honoring Him as Lord of my life? [Tweet this]


How does this relate to worship? Here’s three specific ways:

How We Enter

God doesn’t change. Why the varied difference between those times when there was a strong tangible presence of God, and other times when it seemed like God wasn’t in the place at all? I think it has to do with how we enter His presence. Yes, come as we are. Enter boldly and entirely confident that we have free access to His presence, but with the balance of holding Him in awe. A reverent fear of God doesn’t mean that I am afraid of Him, but that I recognize who He is. If I were to enter the presence of an earthly king I would respect the position of authority. He is King of all earthly kings. I wouldn’t be flippant, or do cartwheels.

Psalm 100:4 tells us to enter His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts (He’s the King, right?) with praise.

When we have such a mindset, then we open ourselves up to at least sensing the tangible presence of God at times.

How We Present Our Gift

Offerings have to be received. Cain’s wasn’t received because his heart wasn’t right. (I’m speaking more of attitude, not sin. Jesus made us righteous.)

I can’t help that I can see the faces from my vantage point on the stage. The varied expressions can be a distraction…if I let them:

That new couple looks like they just got out of the hospital. 

Whoa, someone looks angry! 

What are they talking about? 

I realize we don’t always feel like participating in worship. Yet, we give gifts to those we love with a pleasant expression. Since I’m giving the gift of my love and life to the Lord, I want Him to be blessed by my worship! Joy bubbles up from the inside, and I just can’t help the smile on my face!

How We Stay Honest

What happens when my heart does not reflect the lyrics? Singing along, while feeling like a liar? The words fall to the ground in the weight of hypocrisy.

What should my response be? Well, honest.

God, I’m struggling with these lyrics. Help me overcome my flesh, and love you with my all.

He doesn’t want us to ignore the struggle and keep singing in fake surrender. God is real and desires genuine love from us, even if it’s an honest confession and plea to turn our stony heart into a pliable one (Psalm 51:17).

Psalm 26:8, Lord

So what do I do now?

  • Read. O LORD, I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells. Psalm 26:8 ESV
  • Reflect. Is He my Lord? Or my Savior only? [Tweet this]
  • Pray. God, thank You that You move among Your people during times of worship. Help my mind, mouth, and motives be honoring to You.
  • Worship. Now worship Him with all You’ve got!

How else can we make it our goal to not be a hindrance to what God wants to do in a time of worship?

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5 steps to thriving in worship

5 Steps to Thriving in Worship

[This is part of the Experiencing Remarkable Worship devotional series]

The word “steps” in the title may have caused you to pause. God is God. He’s not a formula or a machine that runs as programmed. I can’t put Him in a box. However, a profusion of factors can either help or hinder our times of worship.

Have you ever assessed a time of worship in church (or somewhere) and thought it was boring? Not exciting? Unfulfilling?

It doesn’t have to be that way!

I’ve experienced God’s face during times of worship; words fail to describe. I’ve also experienced His hand. He has spoken to my heart, given revelation, changed me, filled me, poured out His love, and plenty more.

Today I would like to touch on some ways to walk out of a time of worship knowing that we eradicated hindrances within our control.

1 – Be punctual. Strike that. Be early. I am working hard on this one; I have to start preparing the day prior. It takes a moment to clear our heads to focus on the Lord after racing into the church, and it will be more difficult to do that if we are wondering if we shut the garage, brought the sippy cup, and turned off our vehicle’s headlights. Don’t ask me how I know this.

2 – Avoid distractions. The devil likes to illuminate petty distractions, but we don’t have to let him. We could simply close our eyes and focus our hearts on God. The fashion fail of the person near us really is less interesting. Also, I’m privileged to stand on the stage every week and help lead worship. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen an individual singing his heart out, eyes closed, hands raised, when suddenly his shoulder is tapped by a latecomer that interrupted his connecting with God in worship to hold a conversation. Whatever it is, it could probably wait.

3 – Drop the burdens. When we come, we might have burdens in our hands. But it’s difficult to worship while carrying them. We can’t lift our hands easily because of the weight of them. He says that we can have an exchange. He takes the burdens, and we receive mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:16). We can “put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:3) in an act of faith. Burdens are for mules, anyway.

4 – Participate. He doesn’t need our praise. He is still clothed in glory and spender whether we worship Him or not. But He has said to worship Him and Him only. By obeying that command we acknowledge that we know that He is the great I AM. (Want to know how? I covered 5 biblical ways to bring worship in a recent post of this series.)

5 – Coming soon. I’m going to be sneaky here and say you will need to read my next post to find out!🙂

So what do I do now?

  • Read. Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven. Psalm 148:13 ESV
  • Reflect. Is what I’m doing before or during the worship service causing God’s name to be exalted?
  • Pray. Lord, help me get worship-service-ready. Help me magnify Your name above all the things of this earth, even the necessary ones. I chose to get in place, avoid distractions, drop burdens, and praise You.
  • Worship. Let’s lift up the name of the Lord!

I can eradicate hindrances within my control so that God will be exalted in my times of worship. [Tweet this]


What if, after all these “steps” God still feels far away? We’ll talk about that in the next (and final) post of this series.

How else can we thrive in worship to God?

*This post might be linked up.

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