Worship is PrayerPsalm 145
Last week as we celebrated Children’s Sabbath, I talked about how busy people are. It is hard to stay focused on what is important. Jesus was very busy teaching, healing, feeding and dealing with people who tried to trick him and kill him. In the midst of it, Jesus taught the disciples and crowds that babies are important to him and God’s kingdom.
I hope you took time to read the insert about propositions that affect our public schools, appreciate teachers and maybe help some teacher. It is not too late.
As we talked about being busy, some of us nodded and looked quite tired. Being too busy leads to tired bodies and minds, poor choices, frustration, short tempers, poor health and reacting instead of choosing wisely, being calm, being present, listening deeply and caring.
Some of you know Pastor Elmar deOcera at South Hayward. He shared a story about going to the store. In the parking lot a woman in a fancy car parked next to him. When he got out of his car and opened the door, it made a little noise (tick). Just a little touch. The woman went off and started yelling and screaming at him using choose words. She went on and on to the point that it really seemed like too much for just her car.
When we lack margins, we need space to center, rest, refresh and remember who we are and what is important to us and God.
Our theme for this year has been prayer. Prayer is our foundation as we build God’s kingdom. Prayer nurtures the Holy Spirit in us. We need prayer to be unified in Christ and with Christ, to be open to and guided by God and to keep our focus on Jesus.
We have had preaching series, classes, workshops and small groups have studied and practiced together. Prayer is not just something we do as another task for God. Prayer is a way that God refreshes us when we enter His presence.
Do you have friends who you can just be yourself with? Whether you are happy or sad, feeling a mess or doing well, you leave them feeling not just happy but better. That is the kind of relationship God invites us to with Him.
There are many kinds of prayer, conversations or ways to be with God.
Prayers of Confession – saying I am sorry
Thanksgiving – being grateful
Intercession- asking for help
Faith or Trust – believing
All worship is prayer, we come in adoration entering God’s house. We see three elements from Psalm 145.
1) First, we make a decision of our will to worship God v1-2
Many things are shouting for our attention – sleep, coffee, news, game, work, friends, family, recreation. We must continue to make a choice to follow Jesus and worship God every week, day and moment. A choice today is good for today and not for next week. We will need to make another choice then.
Some worship songs are from our point of view – “I will Worship, Hail You as King”. We are declaring what we will do. It is a decision of will to worship God.
2) Second, God is worthy to be honored and praised
In verses 3-7, the person is praying about God’s goodness, meditating on him, telling the next generation. In verses 8-9, he is just telling of God’s greatness.
The reality of God’s greatness is to be honored. Some of our songs express who God is like “Our God” or “Great is thy faithfulness”.
Worship is choosing to focus on God because of who God is. It is not about my feelings or circumstances. There is nothing said about feeling happy or having a good day so I will worship. There is nothing about the kind of music, that it is loud or soft, hands raised or meditative or what the person next to me is doing. Because sometimes what they are doing is uplifting or distracting and annoying!
Years ago I heard Tony Campolo, a Baptist professor and speaker. He didn’t like praise music. He found it too loud, didn’t like the drums and electric guitars. He wanted some old style hymns! But he saw how the students experienced Jesus through the music and he gave thanks to God.
Can we and will we choose to focus on God wherever and whatever is happening in us and around us? Some like to raise their hands out of joy and exalting God and others like to worship in the quiet of their hearts. Can we worship freely together?
Recently our worship team met. This included not just our praise team but also communion stewards, graphics, sound crew, acolyte coordinator. A lot of people are involved in making our weekly worship happen. I told them that a while back the song after the sermon was so moving me that I felt prodded to kneel, but I did not. Because I am up front and I was too embarrassed. I have to admit that it happened another time and I still did not do it.
After the second time I thought about it and began to wonder if I was resisting the Holy Spirit. Was I limiting spirit of worship here and not trusting God? I did not want to do that and so you may have seen me kneel since then.
Worship is changing and dynamic. It is personal and corporate. Will we still choose to worship God who is worthy of our praise? The Holy Spirit invites us to worship freely, focusing on our great God who invites us into relationship!
3) Thirdly, Worship leads to all creation knowing and worshiping God.
In verses 10-12, our worship leads to our telling others of God with our words and our lives. We proclaim the good news of Jesus and spread God’s Holy Spirit through all creation.
Worship and praise of God is the foundation of all prayer
If we don’t know this presence of God, then prayer is like going to the store with money. It is just a transaction or exchange of services, not a relationship.
If God is not powerful or good or loving or worthy to be praised, we might as well go somewhere else.
We may have the mindset of coming to church to check attendance and say “I am here God!” Maybe to see family and friends, they are pretty great! Or it is just a habit of coming.
Instead I hope that you would come to meet the King of kings, to honor, praise and love him!
We will have a bit more singing today. Let’s join and sing “ I will worship”.
Let our worship take us to some more praying.
Let us enter into prayers of thanksgiving and gratefulness. There is space on the sermon notes to list a few things that you are grateful for today. Turn where you are in groups of twos and threes and share a few things that you give thanks for.
Let’s continue in our singing with “Give thanks”.
Let’s consider prayers of faith. It is not only when we come to accept Jesus as savior. There are so many times when we do not understand what is happening or where God is. Those are the times we need to return to God’s promises and listen for him.
1Peter 2:6 “For this is contained in scripture: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious cornerstone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.’”
Jesus is our cornerstone and when we believe in Him, we will not be disappointed.
God’s promises are true even when they don’t look like it in the present. We all go through situations that challenge us. Those promises are not for cars, material things or our wishes, wants and plans. There are times when we are certain God has led us to a place or situation, we trust God that God will fulfill it.
Like the opportunity to choose to worship again and again, it is also true for trusting God. Here is a prayer to use for those times.
Lord, in this situation ___________, I choose to trust you.
We will need to pray this over and over, choosing with our will and believing in the one who loves us and is for us.
We will have another song of worship. Come with hearts and will to worship and give thanks. Whether in meditation or loud voice and raised hands, let us join our hearts together to worship God freely. You are invited to come forward as part of worship, offering yourself to God. We will close together in prayer at the end of the song.