Have you ever been to one of those churches with the contemporary Christian songs, lights flashing, music blaring, people jumping up and down, throwing their hands in the air, and shouting praises to God?
How did it make you feel?
Were you right there with them, loving every second?
Or were you standing in the back thinking they had all lost their minds and you must have walked into crazy town?
If you are in that second camp, this post is for you! I hope to share a bit of my story and tell yall how I found the biggest freedom of my life when I surrendered to the “craziness” and then give you 5 ways to find your own freedom in worship.
When I first started on my Christian journey, we were going to a tiny little church. I loved worship time there. It was small, quaint, and peaceful. We had an organ, sometimes a guitar, and our worship leader with her microphone. We all sang along to 2 or 3 really traditional gospel songs, then we sat down and listened to the message.
There was one little old lady that always stood in the front, and always raised her hands (both of them) and just seemed to be on a whole other level with God. I got to where I would seek her out to watch her because, honestly, it was weird. She was the only one who did it, and boy did she ever stick out! I couldn’t figure out why anyone would ever want to stick out for a weird reason like that… I know I sure didn’t!
So, even though I was completely drawn to her, always wondering why she did that, I avoided her like the plague! I was terrified to talk to this lady because I really thought she would try to recruit me into some terrifying and freaky cult life. I never did meet her, to this day, I don’t even know what her name was.
Then, God moved us across the country and called us to a completely different kind of church experience.
The first time I walked in to our new church, I had an overwhelming sense that we had found our home. Even so, some things still seemed very strange to me. First of which, was worship time.
This particular church was huge, we had an auditorium style sanctuary that seated several thousand people (a far cry from the 50 we had been used to). The first night we went, we sat about 3 rows back from the front of the stage. When worship started, I was both terrified and delighted at once!
They turned the lights way down, and turned the music way up. People on every side of me began to worship God in a way that I had never witnessed before. Hands went up everywhere, some people danced, some people jumped, some stood still, and they all carried a look of peace and total freedom on their faces.
Even though I had this rush of panic over what was happening all around me, I also had this incredibly calm peace somewhere inside me whispering that it was going to be okay.
For a long time after that, we would sit up high in the auditorium and experience worship as more of a “spectator sport”. We would sing along, but mostly we were watching everyone else engage in this strange, but intriguing style of worship.
After several more months passed by, I stopped paying so much attention to everyone else and really started to let the words I was singing minister to my own heart
That was my first breakthrough.
I felt walls start to come crashing down as I let the truth I was singing really wash over me. It sunk down deep to a place that it stuck. Those words had SO MUCH TRUTH and SO MUCH POWER!
That was at a time when I was still very distant from my Bible, I had read a little here and there, but not much. I certainly didn’t have God’s Word rooted deep inside me yet. Those songs were the thing that first started to help me hide God’s Word in my heart. When you've got God's Word hidden in your heart, things start to change. Click To Tweet
Try it for yourself, check out this video, listen to the words, and let them really minister to your heart.
Fast forward about a year… I had been perfectly happy with the level of worship that I had achieved. I sang along and I really felt like I was praising and honoring God when I did. I didn’t feel the need to do anything more, or so I tried to convince myself.
I started to notice that during worship I would have this strong urge to raise my hands and cry out to God. BUT I had an even stronger urge for “self-preservation”. I was terrified of what everyone around me (especially my husband standing right next to me) would think. It was that thought that held me captive for another year! A YEAR!
(And even though the major thing holding me back was that fear factor, I also had a heart-felt desire for “genuine worship”. I desperately did not want to put on a show or an act for other people and I was so scared that if I began to worship in that way, I would be doing just that.)
Then our Pastors did a series on worship, and they would have breaks during the middle of service to give us an opportunity to find our own freedom. MY SPIRIT WANTED FREE SO BADLY!
It was a dreadful battle for me between soul and spirit.
My spirit wanted freedom… my soul wanted dignity… and my body sided with my soul…
Just after that series wrapped up, our church hosted their annual women’s conference. I went, by myself, and sat near the front determined that night would be my next breakthrough. I was ready for a spirit victory. There was no one I knew anywhere near me. When worship started, I let the music wash over me and I gave in and let my spirit have its way.
I HAD NEVER FELT MORE FREE IN MY LIFE!
And that’s when I finally got the point of worship.
It’s not about me, or the songs, or the manner in which I worship… it’s all about Him.
It’s about letting my spirit be free to praise Him for who He is, for who He’s been, for who He will always be.
My heart broke into a million pieces that night. It was yet again, one of those moments where I left with “ugly tears” because God had finally won me.
I finally realized what it meant to surrender my entire life to Him and trust in Him to pick up the pieces.
My pride was shattered that night as I surrendered everything I was afraid of and holding back in order to put God first. And I have never been the same.
I found my freedom in worshipping my Saviour with every ounce of who I am, throwing all of my sin and wickedness on the altar at His feet and magnifying His glory and mercy.
There really are not enough words to describe that level of freedom. My prayer for you, friends, is that you will find it and then spend the rest of your lives being changed by it.
Psalm 51 from the message Bible captures freedom in worship perfectly. This is a psalm that David wrote after he had been confronted by Nathan about his affair with Bathsheba.
5 ways to find your own freedom in worship
- Let the words minister to your heart – Don’t just sing without listening. And listen carefully, I would caution you to only sing songs that are speaking truth. Remember, these are words you’re speaking over yourself, so you should be sure they are Truth. Once you are sure of that, then let that truth sink in deep and minister to your heart.
- Let His spirit be in the lead – when you feel that prompting on the inside to go a little deeper, to take the next step in your worship, listen to it. You can be sure that is the Holy Spirit prompting you to find a deeper level of worship; I promise, the devil’s not going to “trick you” into worshipping God!
- Forget about everyone else around you – worship’s not about them, and it’s not about you, it’s about Him. Focus solely on Him and forget everyone else. Close your eyes if you have to, move to a different seat if that helps, get to a place where you can worship by yourself if you need to. Do whatever it takes so that you can stop focusing on everyone else, and start focusing COMPLETELY on God.
- Don’t force your worship – “Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you.” God’s not looking for your best performance, and He’s certainly not looking to see how well you “out-worship” your neighbor. He is looking for a pure heart ready to rejoice in Him. John 4:24 says, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” Let your worship be honest and real and led by the Spirit. He will guide you into all truth and He will show you the best way to honor God in your worship time.
- There is no perfect way to worship – God has uniquely designed each and every one of us with different gifts, talents, and quirks. If we were all to worship the same way it would be meaningless. Worship doesn’t even always come through singing, it can come in many other forms, such as dancing, writing, or painting. Whatever your way, worship God with all that you have and all that you are and let that be enough. He will continue to guide you and shape you. There will always be a next level of worship. Stay open to it, but don’t force it. Let Him lead you in His timing and in the meantime, worship Him with everything you have.
When you have reached that point of freedom you will know it because you will be transformed and then you will never be the same again!
Don’t shut yourself off from God out of fear and doubt. Instead, find the ultimate freedom and catapult yourself into the next level of your relationship with Him!
Now go and break free in the best worship session of your life!
Here’s another of my favorites to help you get you started
Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.
Psalm 51:14-16 (MSG)
Blessings and love,
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I’m an Army wife, homeschooling mom of 6, and a beautifully flawed human being. I live a very messy but very authentic life, perfected daily by the Grace and Love of Jesus. I hope you’ll join my tribe as we grow together, encouraging one another to live authentically as empowered women, empowering other women.