This video that I ran across today gives me the opportunity to say something about worship, one of my favorite forms of prayer (don’t try to relate these comments to the video; I just thought it was somewhat funny):
I really enjoy our worship at Edgewood – I think we are very blessed. And if you’re a regular attendee, I hope you feel the same. Some people take offense at the idea of “enjoying” worship, that we should worship for God and not ourselves. But I have learned that this is the wrong way of thinking about it. John Piper’s thinking in his book Desiring God has transformed my thinking.
What Piper writes is simple yet profound. When I “enjoy” God, I glorify Him. How does that work? Well, think about it this way – if I tell my wife that I want to take her out on a special date, and she says, “Why would you want to do that?” and I say, “I read in a book that all good husbands take their wives out occasionally. It’s the duty of a good husband.” How do you think she will feel? Lousy, I would guess.
But what if I say, “Well, darling, we’ve been busy lately, and I love to spend time with you and I miss you – that’s why I want to take you out.” How will she feel then? I think she will feel encouraged, and loved.
Or what if I go see someone in the hospital, and the sick person says, “Oh, Pastor, you shouldn’t have come – I know you’re busy.” And I say, “Well, actually, the elders told me I had to come.” (which they haven’t – if you’re sick and I come to see you – but I think you get the idea). How will that person feel? Lousy, again. But if I say, “I really wanted to be here with you,” then that person will be blessed.
In the same way, how does God feel when we enjoy Him in worship? The answer is that God is glorified. How about when we come to delight in Him in His word, or in prayer? How do you suppose He feels when we operate out of a sense of duty? Now, sometimes the only way we get things done is by duty, and we need to live lives of obedience, but life is not best lived this way, and God is certainly not most glorified in this manner.
So Piper has written, “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.” That little statement has revolutionized my life since I heard it some many years ago. Truly, what he is saying is that God is joy, and when we delight in Him, we glorify Him. John Piper has written another book called God is the Gospel, which I have only started, but I think I know the idea. The idea is that God is the good news, that the best part of heaven will be His presence, not seeing old relatives (as glorious as that will be) or eating a feast.
So why do you worship? Or why do you pray? Or why do you come to church or read your Bible? If you would say that your primary motivation is duty, then pray a simple prayer right now and ask God to turn your duty into delight.