By Will Butcherine
Worship is not what happens on the stage, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. You can worship by yourself or with a group of friends. To worship is to acknowledge one another for who they are, and as Catholics, we worship God for what He has done for us and who He is. There are so many reasons to thank and worship God, and there are so many ways to worship.
I asked some staff and students at Saint John Paul College (SJPC) in Coffs what worship was to them;
“The physical acknowledgement of God’s presence”
“An expression of love to God in a variety of ways”
“Worship is to do all things for the glory of God”
“Treating someone with the respect and adoration they deserve”
“Just sitting with God in His Presence”
“Head. Heart. Hands”
“To talk to God, ask for His help and praise His love, kindness and beauty of the world. To marvel in God’s beauty”
Each answer is correct and none better than the others. There is no wrong answer, as long as it speaks the truth and comes from the heart.
So, how can you worship?
Through Prayer: It is often hard to find time in our lives to pray, and when we do it can often be rushed. But when we do pray, how much of it is about us and how much of it is about God? When I pray I tend to do all the talking, I don’t stop and listen to what God has to say to me. Jesus also teaches us an important lesson with the Lord’s Prayer, and that is that prayer starts with God, “Our Father in heaven…”. So it is important that when we worship through prayer, we focus on getting to know God for who He is and what He has done for us.
Reading the Bible: The Bible allows us to gain a clear understanding of God. It states that we should worship God in “spirit and truth”, and the truth about God is essential to worship. I often read over the Book of Psalms because it carefully describes who God is, because how can I worship God if I don’t understand who He is? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big reader and it can be challenging to read and absorb what the Bible has to say, but I’d encourage people to find 5 or 10 minutes each day and read it.
Through Music: People say that when you pray through music you pray twice. I don’t know who said it but I’ll go with it… As a musician I really enjoy playing praise and worship music; I feel more involved, invested and connected. I also make sure that when I play worship music, with or in front of others, that it is not a performance but another form of prayer. Music is evident all throughout the Bible; after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea to escape the Egyptians (Exodus 15). Singing was practised by Jesus and his disciples (Matthew 26:30), and when Paul told the Colossians to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs giving thanks to God (Colossians 3:16-17). Music is a gift of God, and of all the musical instruments that can be used to praise God, our voices can’t be beaten. The Israelites, Apostles and Colossians all used their voices in the worship of God, and instruments were used in services to the singing of God’s people. So worshipping through music is a creative, lively and fun way to worship and show our thanks and recognition to God.
By building relationships: God designed us to live in a community, especially a community that builds up our faith. By going to Youth Groups, Mass or participating in community events and allowing ourselves to get to know others and others to know us, we can praise and show worship to God. I have been fortunate enough to be apart of and help lead the Basicgift Youth Group in Coffs Harbour on Sunday nights, work in the SJPC community as a Youth Ministry officer during the week, and be a member of the Proclaim Lismore Band. In doing this I have built relationships, got to know heaps of new people and have had awesome opportunities to experience and worship God.
By Living our life on purpose! God has a reason for our existence; fellowship, discipleship, ministry, evangelisation and worship. We please God when we live according to His purposes because God doesn’t want us to waste our lives. But worship isn’t simply one area of our life, it is our life. If we begin to worship now and give ourselves to God then we are able to live the rest of our lives getting to know God and being able to worship Him more fully. About a year ago I decided to give myself to God, and since then I have grown more and more in my faith, discovering and developing ways to worship God as best I can, in ways that no one could teach me.
Worship is personal. It’s a moment between yourself and God. I believe people can enlighten and show others different ways to worship, but ultimately the best worship comes from the heart and that cannot be taught. You need to experience God to truly know and worship Him because His kindness and love are shown in different ways to different people. I encourage you to give one of the aforementioned ways to worship a go, or even to find a more personalised way to worship.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” Hebrews 12:28