Heart of Worship| By Tori Savoy

Growing up in the church, you would find 5-year-old me standing with my hands raised at church singing one of my favorite songs, “The Heart of Worship.”

“And it’s all about you, it’s all about you, Jesus,” I would sing with a large smile on my face.

Worship was always my favorite, but somewhere along my journey with Christianity, I complicated the once so simple act of praise and worship. 

This year, prayer became a big part of my life, and it transformed my life in more than one way. One thing God placed on my heart to pray with expectation for was my fertility, and boy did he show up. I am currently expecting a sweet baby boy in February 2020.

The week following my positive pregnancy test, the only words I could utter were “God, you are so good.”

I found myself always praising His mighty name for the miracle He worked in my life, the promise He had brought to pass. I felt like I had “A Heart of Worship.”

However, a few weeks later something changed. I am not sure whether it was pregnancy hormones or just a rut, but I became emotionally numb. I tried to read and would not comprehend a single word. I would pray and easily get side tracked before completing a sentence. I would put worship music on and felt absolutely nothing. 

Here I was with the ideal circumstances, and I could not find the heart to worship the one who controlled those circumstances. I felt immediate guilt. I had been so adamant in pursuing God while praying for my blessings. Now that I had my blessings, it seemed the passionate flame in my heart had been stifled. So there I was, numb and guilty.

The devil came at me saying God was going to take my child from my ungrateful heart and that I had earned my blessings only to lose them.

Thankfully, God’s blessings are not dependent on our actions because then none of us would receive them. His blessings are a gift that comes from being in God’s will and trusting His hand (but that is a whole other topic).

My guilt made it difficult to worship because it put the focus on ME, my actions and my worth. I had forgotten about 5-year-old me at church singing, “It is all about you, Jesus.”

Worship and praise focuses not on our abilities, our emotions or even our circumstances. It focuses on the one who created every one of those and remains good until the end. 

Psalms 136:1 (NLT) says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.”

The psalmist continues to repeat the last phrase a couple dozen times in that single chapter. His worship focused solely on who God is.

When my emotions go numb, God’s love and goodness still endures. Whether my circumstances are good or bad, His love and goodness endures. 

In my recent devotional on the She Reads Truth App, the writer made a statement that hit me hard. 

“In corporate worship, in private prayer, in the smallest moments, and in the most earth-shattering ones, we always have reason to thank God for what He has done and what we know He will do. Whether or not we feel grateful or not, whether or not we feel worshipful, there is always a reason to worship in gratitude: because His faithful love endures forever.”

The Heart of Worship is not about the emotions we feel in our heart. It is about choosing in our hearts to recognize who God is and what He is capable of. 

We can choose to worship our circumstances and live according to our current state of emotions, or choose to worship the God who is more constant than our ever changing emotions and circumstances. 

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15(NIV)

Worship is not a feeling that comes when the music reaches a crescendo, or the amount of tears we shed as we do it. It is not about how high we raise our hands, how loud our voices echo or how much we dance. Worship is simply a heart that recognizes the goodness and love of God.

Let us make it all about Jesus. Because, “His Faithful Love Endures Forever.”

A Dwindling Prayer Life| By Jasmine Beard

“Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray Thee Lord, my soul to keep

If I should die before I wake

I pray Thee Lord, my soul to take

If I should live for other days

I pray Thee Lord, to guide my ways

Amen”

This was my first encounter with prayer. When I was a little girl, my aunt bought me a stuffed animal that had a recording of this prayer in it when you pressed its paw.

Every night I would hop into bed, tuck my head underneath my covers and whisper this prayer to God. God was not someone I really knew or even knew much about, but I believed. I believed He existed, and I really enjoyed saying this prayer to Him each night.

Years went on, and I slowly forgot about my stuffed animal and the little prayer I said to God each night. As I approached teenage years, my prayers were as if I was wishing at a wishing well, rather than having an intimate conversation with my Heavenly Father.

This all changed when I was confronted with my sin and the love of Jesus Christ at a summer camp at the age of 15. I opened up and told God the whole truth – how I had sinned and how I was so in need of a redeemer like Him. He was gracious and gladly welcomed me into a relationship with Him as He does for all of His wayward children. I dove deep into His word and deep into conversation with Him.

But over the years, I would go through highs, lows, and even lulls in my prayer life with God.

In 2018, I found that I was fed up with the highs and lows of my prayer life and dove into simply asking God, “what is prayer?”

Webster defines it as, “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.”

As you can imagine, this definition did not help me much. I was looking for a Holy Ghost answer, something that would knock me over and leave my prayer life never the same.

To my surprise, God showed me what prayer is not.

Firstly, Prayer is not regurgitation.

We learn this from Jesus himself in Matthew 6:7-8 (NLT)

7 “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.

8 Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!     

Secondly, I learned that Prayer cannot be paired with unbelief,

“I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” Matthew 11:24-24 (NLT)

Lastly, I learned that Prayer is not for show,

“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” Matthew 6:5-6 (NLT)

After the Holy Spirit showed me what prayer is not, He compared a believer’s prayer life to intimacy within a marriage. He showed me that just like a marriage cannot thrive or be sustained without intimacy, neither can a Christian’s life/walk with God thrive or be sustained with the absence of prayer.

We are already one with God, but prayer is the continuation and sustainability of our marriage with God. I do not know about you, but I would not want to be in a relationship or marriage with a man who does not talk to me.

Just like intimacy in marriage must be paired with vulnerability and exposure, so should our prayer life be with God. We must learn to get naked before the Lord. Take off the masks, the church lingo, religious speech, and lies before Him.

Our Heavenly Father sees all things and knows all things. We do not have to cover up our heart, our hurts, questions, or disappointments when we come to talk to Him. He actually welcomes all of our concerns and longs to change our way of thinking, our hearts, and our circumstances.

Maybe you find that your prayer life is in one of the three categories I mentioned above. Trust me; I have been there. However, this is not where your conversation with God has to stay.

Today, I want to encourage you to just get real with God about everything. Do not be afraid or allow the enemy to tell you that God does not care about your situation. Your Heavenly Father longs for intimacy and closeness with you. He is not looking for you to have the right things to say, but for you to leave nothing unexposed before Him.

“The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalms 145:18 (NLT)