Have you ever had one of those Sunday mornings where you just didn’t feel like singing? You know the kind I’m talking about. You had an exhausting week, your Bible reading was sketchy, and you had an argument with a family member on the way to church. You don’t feel close to God and you certainly don’t feel like singing. Then Mr. Smiley Man Worship Leader stands up at the front and encourages everyone to lift a “joyful song” to the Lord, and you want to walk up there and give him a swift slap in the face. Then the music starts, and you’re painfully aware that you really don’t feel like singing. I’ve been there. Maybe you’re in that place right now.
Let me encourage you to do something different this Sunday. When the singing starts, don’t let your first question be, How do I feel about what I’m singing? That’s the wrong place to start when it comes to worship. The first question should be, What is the truth about God?
For example, when you sing –
Before the throne of God above, I have a strong and perfect plea
– don’t start with an evaluation of your feelings. This truth you are singing has absolutely nothing to do with your feelings. If you’re a Christian you have a glorious savior, a mighty redeemer, and a strong and perfect plea in Jesus Christ. All your sins are washed away and you can approach God himself with complete confidence. You have a place reserved for you in heaven. And all this has absolutely nothing to do with how you feel!
Now I need to be careful here. Feelings are essential in worship. Worship without feeling doesn’t honor God. But feelings aren’t the starting place for worship. Glorious truth about God is the starting place for worship, and is what creates true feeling in our heart. As John Piper puts it in his book Desiring God, “The fuel of worship is a true vision of the greatness of God…”
So when the singing starts this Sunday, don’t immediately do an inward evaluation of how you feel at that moment. Rather, engage your mind with the glorious truths that you’re singing and ask God to give you a true vision of his greatness. Ask God to open your eyes to see his glory, and ask him to kindle deep, God-honoring emotion in your heart. Start with the truth and your feelings will follow.