When God Feels Far Away While Worshipping

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

Do you ever experience times when God feels far away? I have, and I dislike it the most when I’m worshipping God. In this post, we are going to explore why that happens and what we can do about it.

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?

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 do I mean by that? 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? #ThrivingInWorship Click To Tweet

Do you ever experience times when God feels far away? I have, and I dislike it the most when I'm worshipping God. In this post, we are going to explore why that happens and what we can do about it. #thrive #thivinginworship #godtime #church #churchservice #godtime #spiritualgrowth

How does this relate to worship? When God feels far away, I respond to Him as my Lord. Here are three specific ways:

When God Feels Far Away, How We Enter Matters

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, disrespectful, 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.

When God Feels Far Away, How We Present Our Gift Matters

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. Some look angry or bored. The varied expressions can be a distraction if I let them. I have to cast down thoughts because I don’t know what’s in their heart. At the same time, 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!

Remember, God is watching us. What is in our heart matters but it doesn’t hurt to give our gift of worship to Him with an expression that reflects our love for Him. Those who aren’t saved yet come to our churches sometimes. They will see our facial reflections, too.

When God Feels Far Away, How We Stay Honest Matters

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.

At that precise moment you come face-to-face with the dilemma that crept into your time of worship. Annoyance turns into defensiveness as you erect a stone wall in your heart against the song. “How could God expect me to give Him everything?” An argument ensues because you know you cannot lie, so therefore this cannot be your fault!

You sing along trying to remain in the unity of corporate worship. Your outward appearance is a shining example for the non-believer sitting nearby, but your heart has disengaged your flow with the “interruption” of this song. Yes, it is true – this time of worship is now ruined.

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).

Do you ever experience times when God feels far away? I have, and I dislike it the most when I'm worshipping God. In this post, we are going to explore why that happens and what we can do about it.

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?
  • 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?

*This post might be linked up.

Thank you for joining me for this series! Don’t miss the other great posts in the Experiencing Remarkable Worship Series:

  1. Experiencing Remarkable Worship
  2. Who Do We Worship?
  3. 4 Reasons I Will Worship God
  4. When You Worship
  5. Worship: God Likes Noise and Demonstration
  6. Worship Where You Are
  7. 5 Steps to Thriving in Worship
  8. When God Feels Far Away While Worshipping

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  1. A thought provoking post. I have often told myself to praise God or worship. As I have approached worship in an intentional manner, I have found my spirit brought victory to my soul. Glad to have been neighbors this morning at Testimony Tuesday. Blessings!

    1. Ah, as David did in Psalms 103:1! Thanks, Joanne! Praying you stay nourished and thriving this week!

  2. Music has always been an integral part of my worship, sometimes the only part. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Great to see you here, Steve! I’ve been neglecting my reader because I’m on a writing deadline. I hope to pop over and visit soon. Praying you stay nourished and thriving this week!

    1. Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment! It’s encouraging! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. The difficulty of “church worship” is that it’s planned. Of course it has to be that way for it to be part of a service at a particular day and time, but often I find that my best moments of worship are those that come in completely unplanned times like when I hear a worship song on the radio driving in my car, or when I have a moment when God seems very real, or when I read a convicting or encouraging scripture. The response of knowing God is present becomes powerful. So if I don’t “feel” moved by a particular song during a church service, I don’t worry about it too much since worship can be a part of every day and during any time.
    and also, if we don’t feel worshipful during songs, we can also worship with our giving, or serving, or responding to the message from the pastor. while I do love praise music, I love it more that worship is so broad and all encompassing and doesn’t need to be restricted to a small segment of time at the head of a church service once a week. Thanks for your thought provoking post!

    1. Hi, Karen. Yes, worship is so much of what we do according to Romans 12:1-2. This series focuses on the adoration we give God a part from those other acts of spiritual service. All of it is included in our love for Him. We may not feel moved or like doing any one of those at any particular time. It all boils down to our heart response to Him when we are worshipping Him. Is He our Lord? Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  4. Thank you for these words of encouragement. I can relate to those times when things don’t quite line up and I find myself in those times to just take a moment to settle it quietly in my heart with Jesus… handing over what is on my mind so that He can touch my heart and help me through the moments so I can receive from Him. Taking that time to enter in with the right heart makes all the difference. thanks again for these words. (Your neighbor at #HeartEncouragement Thursday)

    1. Rachel, it does make a difference, and I don’t want to end up just going through a “form of godliness.” Thanks for stopping by! Blessings to you!

  5. Kelly, I never thought about the fact that my expression during the worship service at church could possibly be a distraction to those leading worship! Not that I need to put on a fake smile, but I need to be more aware of what my face is doing, which will also help me concentrate on the words and purpose of what we are doing! Thought-provoking post!

    1. Thank you from all worship leaders everywhere. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Ha! I’ve been singing from the stage for over 25 years. It’s taken a long time to force myself to not get distracted. But that’s a lot of years of practice. I appreciate you reading and leaving a comment, Lois!

  6. Kelly, thanks for sharing your thoughts on worship. Sometimes I can be so distracted during worship. I like your “checklist” here. So often I have things in my heart, or I’m just too distracted. It’s so important to get intentional about entering into God’s presence.

    1. So good to see you here, Betsy. Distractions can be such a huge hindrance. I wish I could make them all disappear. ๐Ÿ˜‰ These are things that have taken a long time for me to learn, and it’s been quite a journey. God’s presence is so incredible! Thanks for joining the discussion.

  7. Enjoyed finding your site. So uplifting on this Sunday morning as I imagine would be on any morning. ๐Ÿ™‚

    visiting from Sunday Scripture Blessings @ Peabea Scribbles. Would love to have you link there also.

    Will be following your posts. Always need inspiration as well as reading His word. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’ll need to hop over and check it out. Thanks and praying you stay nourished and thriving this week!

  8. Enjoyed this so much, Kelly, and especially because I am a former worship leader. I know what it’s like to see both the ecstasy and pain on faces (and even had 1 or 2 with their fingers in their ears). Having gone through my own, long season of not being able to lift my hands or join in during worship (this happened after I’d been leading worship for over a decade) I can say God used the time to give me a better understanding of what it means to be in the congregation and struggling with much of what you’ve shared. Thanks for your transparency and truth. Visiting today from #momentsofhope where we’re neighbors.

    1. Nice to meet you, Karlene. Glad you enjoyed it. It sounds like you’ve been through a lot on both sides. It’s good that you were able to gain a better understanding during that time. I’ve been there. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Lori @ Frog's Lilypad says:

    Kelly, You’ve made some great points here and I am going to work on them. I tend to let worship time be the time where everything going on around me or in my mind distracts me so I can focus on the sermon. Thanks for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.

    1. I’ll be praying for you, Lori! I think you will find yourself sensing God’s presence more as you tune out the distractions. Praying you stay nourished and thriving this week!

  10. Kelly… this was a really great series. I have shared a couple of these on my facebook because I have heard so many folks talk about not knowing how to worship or have a hard time with it, or not “feeling” anything. Yeah, sometimes I let myself get distracted by folks around me at church that are fruity or disrespectful to the worship leaders and to God by talking, fidgeting, etc. Then I get judgemental and I have to repent then and there and get back to worship, the thing I am really there for anyhow. To worship my God and my King. Thanks for this series. Really good… like everything you put on here…. always glad you “stop by”. Love you..my dear friend.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing and the feedback, Carol! I’m grateful my posts can touch lives and bring people closer to the Lord. Love you, too, sweet friend!

  11. Kelly, I appreciate how you ask the question of Jesus being our Lord – the Lord of our lives. I think we have somehow separated Him being both Saviour and Lord – when we really shouldn’t have one without the other. Thanks for sharing on Grace and Truth.

    1. Truth! Thanks for your linkup. It’s been wonderful to be able to meet new people, you included! Praying you stay nourished and thriving, Aimee!

  12. Hi Kelly,
    This post makes me think of the differences between my husband and myself. I was a worship leader, too, quite a few years ago. That time is my absolute favorite. It’s when I fully absorb the presence of the Holy Spirit! But, for my husband, it couldn’t be more different. He still stands after all these years, as stoic as possible. He’s not unhappy. He’s not angry. He just doesn’t feel it. But, oh my stars, it used to bother me so much!!!! I’ve learned, though, that his worship is between him and God and leave it there! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’ve loved this series and it truly resonated with me! Thanks so much for sharing hope at #MomentsofHope!
    Blessings and smiles,

    1. That’s true. After all, we aren’t anyone’s Holy Spirit. How interesting that you used to be a worship leader. Cool. Thanks for joining the discussion, Lori. Always a pleasure to see you here. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. I definitely struggle to be “all there” during worship, but it really helps me to focus on words. (Yes, I’m a word nerd . . .) If I think about what God is saying to me through the hymns, the exact working of whatever Scripture passage is read, the words the pastor has labored over and is now sharing with the Body — this gives me focus and I find my heart responding.

    1. Absolutely, Michele. Words are powerful. Especially His words. I think we should all pay attention to the words. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Love your post that gets to the heart of the matter <3 Have a great day Kelly!
    ~Sherry Stahl

    1. Thanks, Sherry! It always makes me smile to see your face pop up around here. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      1. sherrylynnstahl says:

        I feel the same way when I see your comments ๐Ÿ™‚

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