The “Power” of Worship
Worship is something that Christians should participate in like breathing air. In fact there is a worship song called “This is the Air I breathe” which I believe makes the point. Also in Psalm 42:1-2a we see this concept expressed by the Psalmist where he says, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God”. Again in Psalm 63:1 we read, “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water”. In fact the Westminster catechism states that, “Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever”. This is the essence of what it means to be a believer.
But there is something about worship that is far more powerful, far more exciting than many of us even realize. Worship has a dimension to it where people and circumstances can be transformed.
Let’s begin with circumstances. In 2 Chronicles 20, there is an amazing story of God’s deliverance for his chosen people. Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah has been informed that armies of pagan nations are planning to attack him and his country. Apparently this army of three nations is so vast that the Jews will not be able to effectively fight against them. In other words it is a hopeless situation.
Jehoshaphat goes to the Temple of God and prays earnestly for the Lord’s intervention. God speaks to one of the men who is part of this prayer meeting. The Lord reveals to this man that God will deliver them because the battle is the Lord’s. What happens next is beyond remarkable. Jehoshaphat consults the leaders and they decide to send out the army, but to place worship leaders in front of the troops. Now I don’t know about you, but this is in no army manual, to have worship leaders be in front of soldiers.
But here is what happens. Picking up the story in verse 22 we read, “At the moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves. The armies of Moab and Ammon turned against their allies from Mount Seir and killed every one of them. After they had finished off the army of Seir, they turned on each other. So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, there were dead bodies lying on the ground for as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped.”
Do you realize what happened? Somehow in the process of worship, God changed the atmosphere and therefore the enemy was defeated. Man is that power or what?
Another powerful aspect of worship is that it changes us. My favorite Psalm is Psalm 73. The Psalmist is writing this from a point of view of the future looking backward. In the past he sees that evil and wicked people have got all the goods; they are rich with not a care in the world. He, on the other hand, sees for him nothing but trouble and pain. But then, the Psalmist goes into the sanctuary and has a complete change of perspective. He comes out of the sanctuary with a belief that the wicked are headed for destruction where he sees his life heading for a glorious destiny.
What happened, what changed? Do we honestly believe that when he walked out of the sanctuary that those rich, wicked people suddenly lost all their money? No, but something did radically change, and that change occurred in the Psalmist.
So what happened in the sanctuary to cause this astounding shift? When a Jew went into the sanctuary, he was doing one primary thing: WORSHIP! Did you hear me! WORSHIP! Worship completely changed his outlook, his emotions, his motivation. That, my readers, is real power.
Over 20 years ago a dear friend of my wife and I, a counselor and pastor’s wife, committed suicide. Over her life she ministered to many couples and was loved by thousands. Her funeral was the largest I ever attended by someone I knew personally. Her act of pain affected me to the point that I was questioning God about even serving him.
For days I didn’t know how to deal with my loss. What I decided to do was to go to a retreat center, put on some praise tapes, and just simply worship. No agenda, not trying to understand why, because there is no why. Just worship!
Guess what. I began to feel better; not totally at peace, but better. God didn’t give me any answers to my questions. He didn’t appear to me in dramatic fashion, like a burning bush. He just touched my heart, and like the Psalmist I was touched on the inside. Once again, the power of worship.
So the next time you worship in church, at home, or in the car, remember it is more than just a pleasant pastime. It is a life changing experience that can alter your life and maybe, just maybe alter the atmosphere around you.