Worship from the Heart

From Bill Sayer

Before the pandemic, Mary and I and some others from different churches, used to lead a service in a residential home for the elderly, once a month. One of the surprising things we witnessed was the joy in seeing many of these, mostly non-Christian, residents singing the words of some hymn that they recalled from their Sunday school days. It was if the years rolled away as they sang these hymns each month. Even those who were crippled with Alzheimer’s, were able to sing along with the other residents.

A song is seemingly more powerful than the spoken word, because the melody somehow amplifies, and serves to underline the lyrics. Arguably, one could say that Charles Wesley (who wrote songs like, “O For A Thousand Tongues”“And Can It Be”) had a bigger impact than his brother, John, who preached effectively and extensively, because the former’s ministry still continues to this day, in uplifting and drawing people nearer to God.

An Anglican minister once said, “I’ve never experienced walking away from a church with someone reciting the key points from my sermon, but I have witnessed people walking away singing the songs…….”

Another hymn writer, Robert Lowry, who wrote, “What Can Wash Away My Sin”, was once asked, “Do you write the words to fit the music, or the music to fit the words?” His reply was, “Sometimes the music comes and the words follow… My brain is a sort of spinning machine, I think, for there is music running through it all the time….” That is the sign of a true worshipper: one who has the music of worship welling up from within, such that words of praise, gratitude, and wonder overflow from the heart in song to our Almighty God.

David, the great Psalmist, set his Psalms (songbook) to the contemporary music of his day. He even applied music to those Psalms when he felt down-hearted and depressed. Why would anyone do this? Because there is power in praise: not in singing songs just “because everyone else does”, but rather in reminding and confirming to ourselves and to God of His faithful word and consistent nature in the midst of the circumstances we face. This is a sacrifice of praise that sees our faith lifted heavenwards, and blesses the Lord’s heart causing Him to act in our circumstances.

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. (Hebrews 13:15)

Paul expected all of us to be a continually worshipping people:

Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:19b, 20)

Will we invest our energies today to rise above the issues of life and become a worshipping people, holding fast to the truths of God’s word and nature?