Fasting as Worship

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There was a time in my life when a friend of mine jokingly told me “you should do a fast from fasting.” He meant well. I was in a season where I had several times of fasting right after another. What’s worse is I tend to be a perfectionist, “rule follower” type personality. So, although I may resist a fast at first, when I get into I get REALLY into it. Something about me loves the challenge of restrictions. Yeah, it’s weird.

But after some time away from the discipline, I have once again jumped in during our church-wide Daniel fast for the next couple weeks. Once again I’m struck by the way that “following the rules” isn’t really the hardest part (and isn’t even the point). The difficult part is really the internal wrestling that I go through, not so much making the choices to eat differently. I’m surprised (although I shouldn’t be) at how much of a whiner and complainer my flesh really is. “Gimme, gimme, gimme” is all I seem to hear.

Fasting is a very valuable spiritual discipline. It is a mechanism by which we let go of some distractions in order to reach out for more of Jesus. It can reveal just how entrenched we are in our habits and comforts, relying on them instead of relying on God to sustain us. The slide into idolatry is a slow creep, and it’s helpful every now and then to push the “reset” button and declare once again with the Apostle Paul, “’All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything” (1 Cor. 6:12).

Because it wars against our tendencies to be idol-worshipers, fasting is really an act of worship. Fasting helps us to broaden our perspective of what worship really is (not just singing, not just something we do when we go to church). In worship we honor God for who he is and what he has done, and we say a deeper “yes” to Him in our lives. By saying “no” to things that distract us, we make room for his voice to speak louder to our hearts. We clear the way for the searching light of the Holy Spirit to shine on our hearts and show us where Jesus isn’t before all things, and make the adjustments so that he is first. As a friend of mine says, “worship is really about the first-ness of God.” He’s right.

Fasting is a lot like going to the dentist. For many of us, the very idea is appalling. We resist it because we think we don’t need it. But, like so many other things in life, we can’t experience the benefit of the discipline just by thinking our way through it (“Hey, I’m doing pretty good therefore I don’t need to fast”).  We have to walk through the self-imposed trial in order to see our true need for Christ.

I’d encourage you to take a step and set aside some time to fast. It doesn’t have to be anything radical. A fast from anything you rely on, no matter how small, will help you see yourself and God more clearly, and God will be faithful to guide you deeper into relationship with him.

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The Why of Worship

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I believe that no matter who you are, your personality, age, disposition, preferences, circumstances or situation, worship is what you were made for.
Worship is the highest goal and noblest purpose of every created thing in the universe.
Worship produces the highest level of life satisfaction and reward possible.
There is no situation which cannot be redeemed through worship.
All things can and must be enjoyed as worship. The choice is worship or idolatry.

I’m reading a fascinating book by Simon Sinek about the power of why. He argues that it isn’t the thing you do that inspires people to act or to follow, it is the reason you do it — your belief, your value, your core motivating force that draws people to you.

It isn’t enough to just tell people what they should do, people need to know why. In business this principle is powerful: don’t just tell me you manufacture a nice car, tell me why I must have it. What will it say about me? Why will it change my life? Why has far more power to motivate that what.

So why worship? Why spend all your waking hours obsessing about one subject that most of the world seems to dismiss? I’m glad you asked.

You know what I love about my life? I get to live for the best cause imaginable. I believe that worship is the greatest central value of all of life, that all of reality revolves around the principle of worship. Everything exists for something, and that reason is worship. Things exist to tell us something about the One who made them. Worship is fundamental to existence, just as matter and protons and wavelengths are the nuts and bolts of the physical world.

All things worship, some by default and design, others by decision. Asteroids and ants worship by design. They were made to express the pleasure and greatness of God in their uniqueness, detail and magnitude (or lack thereof). The interesting thing about humans is that we worship by design and by decision. As the crowning glory of the creation of God, human beings express God’s incredible power as the Maker and Master of all life. The body and brain still baffle scientists with their capacity and capability to connect and conceive. But the human heart and will can choose, we can express our praise and worship to God through our choices, through all that we do and think.

I believe that when we are made alive in Christ and surrender our lives to putting God first, we step into the thing we were put on this earth to do: worship. How much time, effort and energy is spent trying to find “our purpose”? Here it is: put God first (worship).

You don’t have to be a good singer, a sappy poet, or a deep theologian to be a good worshiper. Worshipers put God first. Period. I believe that the experience of worship is surpassingly greater than any other experience. To worship is to be in the presence of God Almighty, the One who created me (and the universe) and receive his love, lay my burdens down and his feet and get peace, wisdom, insight and encouragement. Nothing compares to that. It can happen anywhere and at any time. It’s what I’m made for, and I’ll spend eternity doing it. We worship because it is right, but also because it is rewarding. I enjoy worship, and I enjoy everything in life more when everything is done as worship.

The worship experience can take many forms. For some, worship may be experienced best through song. For others, prayer or quiet meditation. The balanced ledger or the swish of the ball in the net strike a chord of the rightness of what God has made. The power and presence of God that I feel at times when I read his word are overwhelming. So it doesn’t matter if you are artsy, young, old, rich or poor. You were made for worship, you were made to put God first. You were made for a constant, mindful, thankful communion with God. The worship mandate isn’t a stifling command to somehow stop enjoying accounting or writing or flowers or whiskey. It is an invitation to see the hand of the Maker in all of life, to delight in him in all things.

So yes, I lead worship on Sundays in a church. I play guitar and lead rehearsals and go to meetings and write blogs. But that is what I do, not why. I love my life because worship is what we are all made for. I get to spend my time finding ways to express to others how everything in life is better when it is worship. It just so happens that I do this in a ministry context, but the why motivates an infinite number of whats and hows. Would you like to join me?