We are all laborers. Whether you are a teacher, engineer, or in vocational ministry, we all labor in the fields God has placed us in. Each and every Sunday we practice the liturgy of the gathered assembly which includes the singing of scriptural truths, the reading and teaching of scripture, the Lord’s Supper, and ends with the reminder that we are sent in to the fields we labor with the truths of the gospel. I love this gathering, where different people from different walks of life come together to unify around the one true God as one body.
But what about the other six days of the week? How do you continue on in worship as a scattered part of the body? Here are three different avenues I believe we can all take as people seeking to continue on in worship throughout our busy week.
Worship as Devotion
I will admit, being in God’s Word has always been a struggle for me in the mornings. Not so much because I do not want to be filled by God’s Word, but because I always want that five extra minutes of sleep where the world doesn’t seem so big. Or, because as soon as my eyes open I reach for my phone and open Twitter to see what news I may have missed overnight. But what is starting my day with the snooze button or my Twitter feed really doing? It is forming my daily liturgy, my daily worship practices, not as a worshiper of Christ, but as a worshiper and consumer of self. When I consciously, or even unconsciously choose to start my day by seeking that which is other from the transforming Word and presence of God, I am choosing to draw from a shallow well that does not give life.
Something I have begun practicing is reciting The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-14) and Psalm 51:15 each morning. If you know them, you know that they are not very long prayers. But they are packed with rich reminders of my need for the Lord. By praying these prayers, I recognize who God is and my relationship to him (Our Father in heaven…), where my source of strength for this day comes from (Give us this day our daily bread…), and who I can run to when I am tempted to fall back into sin (And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…).
Now, are most mornings this ideal? Nope. I wish they were. Most mornings, I wake up not to my alarm ringing, but to little, slobbery hands attacking my face. Five minutes of silence and meditation has turned into changing dirty diapers and preparing breakfast before my son eats things I did not even know existed in our carpet. But, it is finding that five minutes (and hopefully more) sometime in the day and refocusing my attention and affections on the Lord as the One whom I worship before something else in my day takes his place (John 15:5).
Worship as Laborer
Throughout college, I had many different jobs. I worked as a house keeper at a hotel, in wholesale at a local coffee shop, and as an audio technician, just to name a few. In my time as an employee, I often failed to see myself as a worshiper as well as a laborer. Sure, the thought would cross my mind from time to time, but not at the frequency as I wish it had. It is easy to make work simply a means to an end, especially in the work I saw as temporary and not what I hoped for as a career. Then, I am reminded of Jesus’ example.
In the scriptures we see that Jesus had followed in his earthly father’s footsteps as a carpenter (Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:3). Before Jesus healed the sick, before he multiplied food for the thousands, before he raised a man from the dead, Jesus was a common laborer like you and me. I’m sure he had his good days and his bad days. Days where the works of his hands seemed effortless and others where the work was frustrating. Yet in all of it, he perfectly worshiped the Father. Jesus was a worshiper in his laboring. If there was ever someone who did not have to be content in his work, it was Jesus. He was, after all, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6). He pressed on and glorified the Father in his work. Jesus modeled perfectly Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Therefore, as we labor we do not work unto a Lord that does not understand our state, but One who understands (Hebrews 4:15).
Worship as Preparer
In his book Unceasing Worship, Harold Best writes, “We do not go to church to worship. But as continuing worshipers, we gather ourselves together to continue our worship, but now in the company of brothers and sisters.” (47). Everything we have already discussed (Worship as Devotion and Worship as Laborer) should be feeding into the one hour we gather together as believers to worship. When we all gather together, after spending days apart growing in our understanding and devotion to God, the fields we have labored are at rest, and we get to celebrate and confess that Jesus is Lord as one united voice.
This service shouldn’t be one that gets you to a place of worship, but one you should be coming to prepared and ready to participate in. It is easy to wait for the cues of the countdown video or when the band kicks in and to say, “Now worship has begun.” When in reality, it has been going on during the car ride in and through the conversations while in line at the café. When the music starts, we are simply saying it is time for the people of God to join together in worship. That is very different than saying that worship has begun, because it never stopped.
My hope for you is that you now have a better grasp and understanding of how worship is a continual flow in our lives. Worship is not something we choose to do, but rather, what we do. If we are not conscious of what or who we are worshiping, it will be decided for us. How does this play out in your life? How are you deepening your walk with the Lord? Where does your source of strength come from each day? Is this lived out or simply talked about? The beauty of the Gospel is that it is not withholding from those who seek and respond to it (Romans 10:11-13). Worship is continual, it is changing us, and it is preparing us for the day we get to stand before the throne of God and worship him forever in perfection.