Phil Maynard, the Author of Shift: Helping Congregations Back into the Game of Effective Ministry, writes, “Developing a devotional life is just that…a lifestyle, not just a time. A devotional lifestyle begins with times of devotion (private prayer and worship with others) and expands into an awareness of the presence of God in all of life.” He describes the flow of behaviors that reflect a movement toward maturity. 1) Exploring: I attend worship when a friend invites me, it is convenient, or I feel a need. 2) Beginning: I attend worship regularly, but am growing to realize that I must attend to God every day. 3) Growing: I attend worship regularly and set aside time to connect with God daily through personal worship (devotions). 4) Maturing: I live all of my life increasingly aware of God’s presence and seeking to honor God.
Preacher and seminary professor, Thomas Long, puts it this way,
Christians will often say things like ‘Worship helps me get through the week. I couldn’t make it Monday to Saturday without worshiping on Sunday” or “Worship is where I get my spiritual batteries charged.” There is truth in this, of course. Worship at its best can be truly uplifting and inspiring, and worship can fortify us for the mundane tasks of life. But it is finally too shallow to think of worship mainly as a kind of holy pep rally aimed at giving us the spiritual energy to get out there in the workaday world and shoulder life’s burdens.
Worship does more than inspire us; it transforms us. It changes the way we live, changes the way we view life’s challenges, changes what truly matters to us, changes the way we see our-selves and others. If worship is only a way to get pumped up so that we can “keep on keeping on” then worship can too easily be reduced to a means to perpetuate the way we are already living. But worship is about more than spiritual motivation. It is about vision and hearing, and worship gives us new eyes and ears, a new set of lenses to look at the world, a new vocabulary allowing us to listen afresh and speak what we could not have said before. To see and hear differently is to live differently, to have the ways we think and feel, make decisions and act as Christians transformed. Testimony p. 40-41
When worship becomes our lifestyle our relationship to God and to one another changes.
One way to foster this change is to expand our vocabulary. When children are young, they learn words that build relationships. Some come easily: “Help!” “Why?” Parents and grandparents patiently teach them to say, “Thank you” and “I’m sorry” to others. We celebrate when these words become habits. When a child without prompting tells her brother, “I’m sorry,” we know that these words are beginning to shape her life and her relationship. Just as our words form our habits in relationship with other people, the words of worship can form the habits of our relationship with God and the way we live out our faith.
For the next eight weeks our worship together will focus on helping us develop Vertical Habits of connecting with God in our daily lives. Each week will focus on one of the Worship Words to help us make the shift from worship as an event to worship as our way of life. Each week we will offer scripture readings for each day to help you practice the Worship Words we are learning.
Join me in praying that as we form these vertical habits what we sing with our lips, we may believe in our hearts, and what we believe in our hearts we may practice in our live; so that being doers of the Word and not hearers only, we may receive everlasting life; through Jesus Christ. Amen.