by Ciel Tagaza
Worship is our response to God’s revelation. When we are filled with wonder at His goodness, His works and His power; when we are grateful for His blessings and saving grace, it’s only natural to praise Him. It is good to be in His presence, when we immerse ourselves in prayer and worship. But we are not meant to just linger in His presence. We are sent out, just as the risen Lord told the clingy Mary to let go, and go tell the others the good news.
Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.”
The highest form of worship derives its name, Mass, from the latin word mittere which means send. The priest ends the Mass with a dismissal, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” A worship gathering always ends with a commission. We come to worship, listen to God’s Word and receive Him (in the Eucharist). Our worship finds its fullness in God’s presence, but it finds its continuity in our actions. There has to be an overflow of grace from the inside out, a translation of God’s Word to worship, and our worship to witness. If we just keep praying without acting on God’s Word, His words will eventually fade out in our lives and our praise and worship will only be lip service.
Worship is also warfare. As in a battle, we cannot fight this spiritual war on our own. There is strength in communal worship. If two or more of us are gathered in worship, we must pray with one heart, one mind, and unwavering faith. We use it to weaken the enemy which aims to kill, steal and destroy the fruits of the Spirit that we bear. Praise was wielded by warriors, servants, kings and disciples of old when they found themselves up against a wall like Joshua and the Israelites, thrown in the fire like Daniel’s friends, outnumbered by their enemies like King Jehoshaphat and his army, or in shackles like Paul and Silas.
When we find ourselves in the midst of adversity, the unnatural but faithful response is praise. We praise God not to summon Him, but to outwardly express our trust and hope in Him – the source of our strength – because whether we feel it or not, He is already with us and for us, and nothing can stand against Him. Praising and worshiping God in our darkest hour helps us endure and overcome trials, and gives us victory over the enemy.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
2 Corinthians 10:3-4