[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
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).
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:
- Experiencing Remarkable Worship
- Who Do We Worship?
- 4 Reasons I Will Worship God
- When You Worship
- Worship: God Likes Noise and Demonstration
- Worship Where You Are
- 5 Steps to Thriving in Worship
- When God Feels Far Away While Worshipping