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What To Do When You’re Not Feeling Worshipful (Worship In Spirit)

What to do?

You’re at church, worship begins — but you are not feeling it.

No awe of God.  No desire for Him.  Nothing.

What should you do?

Should you go through the motions anyway?

Should you leave and try again next week?

Or — what?

Let’s ask Jesus

Jesus said true worship must involve both spirit and truth (John 4:24).

So we must worship in truth — which means worshiping the true God as revealed in Jesus Christ and recorded in Scripture.

But we also must worship in spirit.

So —

What’s worship in spirit?

One clue is that John’s gospel uses the word “spirit” to refer to feelings and emotions.

You can see that in John 13:21 — After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit.

The other clue is that in John 3:6 “spirit” is something the Holy Spirit births in us —

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

So worship in spirit means worshiping with Spirit-given feeling.

But what if I’m not feeling it?

Worship in spirit includes joyful praise, awestruck wonder, sorrow for sin, and longing for God.

But what if I’m feeling none of these?

What can I do?

What we must NOT do is think feelings aren’t important — and just go through the motions.

Jesus called that hypocrisy in Matt 15:7-8 —

You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me…”

So what can we do?

Learn from David

At the beginning of Psalm 40 David was not feeling the worship.

He felt like he was in a pit of destruction and stuck in miry clay (Psa 40:2).

But a little later that changed — because God put a song of praise in his mouth (Psa 40:3).

So what happened between feeling stuck in miry clay — and singing praise to God?

David tells us in v.1 — I waited patiently for the Lord.

David did not go through the motions of worship.

Nor did he give up on worship.

Instead — he waited patiently for the Lord to help him worship.

What does that mean?

We could think waiting for the Lord means passively hoping He will change us.

But the Hebrew word means to seek with eagerness and expectancy.

So here’s how to wait for the Lord —

  • Look to Jesus expectantly.  Don’t focus on your lifeless heart — trust Christ to meet you, help you, change you.
  • Pray and ask Him to help you worship.  Admit to him your lack of worship.  Confess any known sin — and receive assurance of forgiveness.  Cast your burdens upon Him — and ask Him to strengthen your faith.  Ask for more of the Spirit’s work in your heart to enable you to feel joyful praise, awestruck wonder, and heartfelt longing for Him.
  • Set your heart on the truth of who God is as revealed in Jesus.  If worship is fire, then truth is the fuel that causes the fire to burn.  The more fuel — the hotter the fire.  Focus on the truth in the songs, the prayers, the Scriptures.
  • Continue the above steps — patiently.  It’s called waiting for a reason.  God might change your heart instantly — or not.  But His timing is perfect love for you.  So humbly continue waiting for Him.

So what will happen?

God promises

When we seek Him with all our hearts — we will find Him (Jer 29:13).

When we press on to know the Lord — He will come to us like spring rain (Hos 6:3).

When we come to Jesus — our heart-hungers will be satisfied (John 6:35).

He will change our hearts so we experience Spirit-given, heart-felt worship.

Yosemite Valley

Here’s an illustration I find helpful —

Yosemite Valley is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

To get there you go through a tunnel which opens to an awesome view of the entire valley — El Capitan, Half Dome, everything.  There’s a parking area where everyone is out of their cars, looking at the view, saying “Oooooh!!!” and “Aaaaah!!!”

Now imagine you drive through that tunnel — but when you emerge all you see is fog.  No awesome view.  Just thick, gray, soupy fog.

That’s what happens when we are not feeling worship.  The beauty of God is right in front of us.  But blocking that view is a fog of tiredness, worries, or sin.

If we just go through the motions — then it’s like we get out of the car at the parking area, stare at the fog, and say “Ooooh…  Aaaah…” — with no feeling.  Why do that?

But — if we will wait on the Lord — it’s just a matter of time before we feel the wind of the Spirit start to blow — that fog starts to break up — we see the beauty of God revealed in Jesus Christ —

And we will worship.

Feedback?  Comments?  Thoughts?

I’d love to hear them — leave a reply below.  Thanks!

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(Picture from everystockphoto by kevin.)

Category: Growing in Worship

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4 Responses

  1. Brian says:

    I’ll remember this as I wait on Him to clear the Brian-fog.

  2. Kristina says:

    This morning I got upset right before my time of worship. I tried to get back in the mood of praise and worship, but I just couldn’t. I kept thinking about what made me upset. I realized that I was glorifying my emotions above glorifying God, but I didn’t know what to do to change it. I googled “What to do when your feelings keep you from worship” and this blog came up. It is perfect and so true! I have all the time in the world today. So I will focus on God’s truth and wait on Him until I can worship in spirit and in truth. Thanks for this!

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