Worship and the Word
All churches have a liturgy. It is the way in which we worship; the form that our worship takes each week. Now, we may not have the most traditional or orthodox form of liturgy, but we certainly have a form of worship that is similar from week to week and month to month. In thinking through what that form should look like, I would like to propose one thread that runs through all we do in a given service: the Word of God.
The first thing that obviously comes to mind when thinking of a worship service is singing. We spend a good amount of each gathering devoted to song. Why do we do this, other than tradition? Looking at the Bible, we see examples of singing throughout: Moses and the Israelites worshipping after God led them safely through the Red Sea (Exodus 15:1-21), David singing songs of deliverance (2 Samuel 22), Paul and Silas singing in a Philippian prison cell (Acts 16:25), and the ultimate culmination of all believers praising God through song in heaven (Revelation 5:9-14), along with many other examples. In addition, we see the command to sing to the Lord repeated throughout the Psalms (Psalm 5:11, 9:11, 30:4, 33:3, 47:6-7, 66:2, 68:4, 68:32, 81:1, 96:1-2, 98:1, 98:4-5, 100:2, 105:2, etc.) and Old Testament (1 Chronicles 16:9, 33, Isaiah 12:5-6, 26:19, 42:10, 44:23, Jeremiah 20:13, 31:17, Zephaniah 3:14). Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 both admonish us to sing “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” to “one another”, the church. Therefore, we believe that it is right and good to sing to the Lord when we meet together.
We want to worship in truth, not just in how we suppose God to be.
Another facet of how the Word influences our services and music lies in the songs we sing. John 4:24 says, “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” We want to worship in truth, not just in how we suppose God to be. The words of the songs we sing need to proclaim truth about God, and to be held up to the standard of God’s Word. They need to reflect his character, the gospel, and who we are in relation to him. All the songs we sing are examined to see if they are an accurate representation of God and based in the truth of the Bible. Songs teach; and we want to teach rightly.
Something else we do every week is pray. In Acts 1:14, we see the early church “in one accord devoting themselves to prayer.” In Colossians 4:2 we are told to “continue steadfastly in prayer” and in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing.” If we are to be faithful in prayer, we believe it should permeate all we do- even our worship services. How we pray at church may look different on different weeks. We pray to prepare our hearts for worship, to confess, to praise, to respond to God’s Word, and even to pray God’s Word. We pray individually and corporately. We want to be a church “devoting themselves to prayer.”
There may be some question as to why all this emphasis on the Bible, anyway? Why do we care so much about it?
The last main part of our worship form is, simply enough, reading the Word. Singing and prayer are both rooted in the Bible, but this is the actual Word being read, whether congregationally or individually. There may be some question as to why all this emphasis on the Bible, anyway? Why do we care so much about it? The answer, I think, is quite simple: it is God’s very words. In 2 Peter 2:21 we see that the human authors of Scripture “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” We also see that the Word is life-giving sustenance: “man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Deuteronomy 8:3) And, in light of this, what other response is there but to “long for the pure spiritual milk” of the Scriptures? (1 Peter 2:2) God has spoken, and we have the privilege of hearing and knowing his words.
What a gift we can share in together!