Monday, August 17, 2015

Praise for Our Idols

What do you think about during worship?

“Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down….”

The words are posted on the screen, and they’ll change just in time if you forget the rest. Fellow believers are up front, strumming and pounding out the tune. You hear their wonderful voices and yours even joins in.

Meanwhile, another song runs through your head. The words on repeat for the hundredth time this week:

“He said and then I said. And we’ve got to make this decision. And I wonder what they’ll think. Which way is right? This reminds me of the time…”

Oh. The volume has softened and your voice must, too. That’s right…

“Lord, I need you, oh I need you...”

The chords playing through your mind this morning begin again. Louder than the words on the screen, which you know anyway. You tune into the line:

“Need…need milk. Did I remember to put that on the grocery list. God, I’ve got so much to do this grocery trip needs to be fast. And then what? Right. Having them over…there they are. Two rows up. I love her sweater. I wonder how they’re doing…”

But the beat has stopped. It’s grown quiet as a voice speaks out without rhythm. Time for prayer. You close your eyes and bow your head. Agreeing as the person up front proclaims God’s goodness and worth, you slip into the usual meditation of prayer:

“Thank you Lord, for who you are. I need this. Will you help me in that? Please be with this person…”

Music is playing again. Look up. Breathe in, you’ve prayed and He has heard. This is a safe place, a good place…

“Come in this place, Oh God, we’ll meet you here…”

But you –you, fellow worshipper- are you here? Am I?

You’ve spent your time of worship focused on the week’s stuff. On your plans and your to-do lists. Your time with the Lord was used to ask and to receive, and not to give. Sure, you gave thought to that person you care for, and you prayed…but what did you worship?

Imagine if those lyrics went:

“Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down to my concerns.”

“Lord, I need groceries. I need time, I need calm. Oh Lord, your peace and presence isn’t productive enough for my plans today.”

“Come in this place, specifically her place…specifically her pain…specifically would you come, Lord, and make this better? Come in this place worry, come in this place fear and anguish, come and meet me here in this place of distraction.”

When our lips sing praise but our hearts are from the Lord, we end up worshiping our other idols: our relationships, our concerns, our time, our plans, and our dreams.

Recall Scripture’s strong words on the topic: “Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 26:1.)

Beware of turning from the Lord all the time. But especially beware of turning from Him during time dedicated to worshiping him…regardless of what it is that you are turning to. He is worthy of that worship, and when we prepare our hearts to praise but get distracted, we end up lifting high plenty that isn’t the Lord. 


  1. Good word, Bethany. Even our ministry efforts can be an idol, if we're not careful. What we start for the Lord can end up being more about us. I confess this after being distracted in Sunday's church service by a church staff position I'm applying for. Here's to worshiping HIM, not the gifts and opportunities He so graciously gives us! Great to be sharing together on #IntentionalTuesday and #RaRaLinkup.

    1. Wow, what a great point, Linda! Thank you for sharing that. So convicted and true! Praying for you as you apply and worship HIM alone : ) Blessings!

  2. Your post reminded me of Jesus' words to Martha. "You are distracted by so many things, but only one is needed." Lord, help us to focus on loving You above all else.

  3. Dear Bethany, I think I am guilty too... distracting thoughts during worship time..
    oh Lord help me...
    This is a powerful message and I am blessed reading.
    God bless

    1. So glad this was a blessing to you, Ifeoma! Blessings to you as well!

  4. Gulp. Guilty. This has definitely happened to me. Sometimes more than others; sometimes less. Praying for better and fuller attention on the God worthy of our praise!

    1. I think we all do this sometimes! Praying with you : ) Blessings!

  5. So glad you visited me, so I had a chance to look through your blogs! This really jumped out at me..the monkey mind of morning prayer and worship time! Oh, how I know this so well, and you remind me to put aside my idols and just rest in God's presence, seeking His will!! warm blessings!