Sensing the Holy Spirit’s presence in a worship service is not self-generated. We must align ourselves and empty ourselves.
2 Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is Maker of them all.
From yesterday: “Those who use their voices to praise the Lord place themselves in the center of His love and grace. We call those gatherings, ‘worship services.’” In them, we can sometimes sense the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit. So, why don’t we feel His presence more often in our services? The answers below are not a complete list, but they are the ones of which I, a Worship Pastor for 37 years, am the most acquainted.
- Complacency-There is no real immediate perceived need. When life is good, we tend to minimize our need for God. Realizing how much we need Him for daily living is a necessity for true worship.
- Culture-The need to be different is something that calls to every generation. Each generation’s cultural needs are different than the past ones, but “different” is not necessarily better, just different. Blending the old with the new requires effort from all generations involved.
- Reliance on works-We forget that grace is given by trusting in Jesus. Good works do not impress God; contrite hearts do (Psalm 51:17). Are good works important? They sure are! We have been created for carrying out God’s work on this earth (Ephesians 2:10). Let’s look at it this way, “We should so work as if we were to be saved by our works; and so rely on Jesus Christ, as if we did no works*.”
- Need for Realignment-In our daily lives, we can get out of sync with the Lord. Praise reminds us of what is important and what we need. The old-fashioned word is, “repentance.”
- Fear-People fear God (usually because they don’t understand how much He loves them). Although the Bible says to fear God, the fear it’s talking about is about awe and respect. Today’s definition of fear has more to do with distrust, and even horror. Jesus said in Matthew 10:31, “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” We are to respect Him and be in awe of Him, but not fear Him as we think of fear today.
Being real before God is the only way to move from praise to worship; it’s the only way to sense the Spirit’s manifest presence, and to hear a word from the Lord. Jesus told us that “true worshipers worship in the Spirit and in truth, for these are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks” (John 4:23). The next time you gather with other believers to praise the Lord, be sure to realize your need for Him, consider the other generations around you, set works aside, ask the Lord to realign you with Him, and trust Him to do exactly that. Hearing Him on this point alone is worth going, don’t you think?
Abba, as people enter into a worship service, I pray that You will impress upon them whatever is standing in the way of You and them connecting relationally. May they allow You to remove that barrier so that Your love can flow on and through them along with Your mercy and Your grace. May we learn to truly worship You in the Spirit and in truth. Amen.
*Francis Asbury (1745 – 1816) was one of the first two bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States.