We all have memories that continue to shape us throughout our lives. For me, many of these memories took place on the small farm located between Lorie Lane and Jackson Creek in Falfa, Oklahoma. I have so many memories of wandering the woods and Potato Hills located near our property. I’d trek across the pasture fighting imaginary invaders for hours. I’d huddle in the barn surrounded by enemy soldiers looking out for my family. I’d crawl up and down the wooden corral by our barn and pretend I had to scale across this makeshift cliffside without touching the ground below. I always give thanks for having this kind of childhood.
One memory, however, stands out above all the rest. In fact, I often revisit it in my mind. Just northeast of the pasture in front of our barn was a little grove of trees surrounding a low marshy plot of ground. On one side was a small hillside and on the other was a thicket of trees and brush. It was always a little wet and well shaded, so moss grew heavily in that area. On one side, there was a large tree that had fallen, so you could easily sit and enjoy this little sanctuary. One particular day, for reasons I don’t remember, I spent time there in worship. I prayed to God. I sang a hymn or two out loud from our old church hymnal that I had memorized from years of worshipping consistently with our church. I don’t know the exact songs after all these years, but they were probably some of the hymns I knew best: The Old Rugged Cross, How Great Thou Art, or Victory in Jesus.
Over the years, I’ve been to retreats and at gatherings where speakers have said, “close your eyes and go to a special place where you encountered the presence of Jesus.” Many times, when I close my eyes, that’s where I go. In my mind, it was a place of pure worship. I didn’t do it because anyone but God was listening. I didn’t do it because I “had to.” As I reflect back, I think my motivation was simply that I felt the presence of God, and I knew the only adequate response was to enter into worship.
Scripture emphasizes that worship is primarily with others. Hebrews 10:25 (NLT) reminds us, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Jesus himself told his followers, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20 NIV. However, in seasons where we are prevented from those corporate gatherings, we are still able to worship.
The poetic worship of the Old Testament, exemplified in the Psalms, provides us with many examples. David cried out to God, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” Psalm 42:1 (NIV). He continues, “By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me – a prayer to the God of my life.” Psalm 42:8. David wasn’t with others at night, but the songs of faith and prayer were still available to him!
So how do we worship during this season of separation, whether we are gathered with two or three or if we are living alone? Here are a few things I have learned over the years.
1.) Spend time in God’s word.
In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul writes, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Spend time reading a chapter or two of scripture, which is the inspired word of God full of powerful promises and truth. If you’re gathering as a family, you can invite your children to do this out loud. If you’re living alone, read a chapter or two, perhaps even out loud. Reading aloud slows us down and engages the brain to create a memorable experience. It may be why I still remember that moment of worship when I was a child. I sang the songs of faith out loud!
2.) Listen to or sing songs of faith.
I have noticed that my faith is always stronger when I saturate it with the things of God. How many of you have had a song stuck in your head? I would guess everyone reading this post has had that experience. With that in mind, is it more valuable to have Hey Macarena! stuck in your head or Be Thou My Vision? Since the lyrics of the former are in Spanish, I’ll just include the latter and let you decide!
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light
Another type of worship is simply “being still” in obedience to this command from the Lord, “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations,I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10.
Awhile back, I came across an artist named William Augusto. He has hours of music designed to soak in the presence of God. Here is one called Soaking in His Presence: The Healer. I have used this music to sit before God without saying a word, just to be in His presence. Sometimes I will even turn this on in my truck to pray along. At times, I even find myself praying as though I’m singing those prayers to the music. It is anointed instrumental worship.
Prayer is an essential part of worship. After all, scripture reminds us, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)
If you are worshipping at home, spend time in God’s word, listen to a worship song or two, and then pray. It’s more simple than you might realize, and you can do it whether you’re alone or with a family and children. Just talk to God. Share your heart, your fears, your concerns, and your hopes. A simple model for beginning in prayer is the ACTS model, which you can learn about ACTS Prayer Model.
4.) Listen to a biblical message.
Many of us are part of a church, and most of those churches are putting content up on Facebook or YouTube during this season. If not, there are other great resources out there. When my family and I are on vacation and we find ourselves driving on Sundays, I try to find a good sermon for us to listen to together. It’s amazing to me how often these messages spur great conversations.
If you need a recommendation, one preacher I find highly interesting, funny, and engaging for most ages is someone I hadn’t heard of until recent years. His name is Mike Pilivachi, and he has preached to youth and adults for many years. Plus he has an English accent, so that’s a bonus! Here’s one of my favorites you can check out: Do Whatever he Tells You.
You might also really enjoy The Alpha Course videos that creatively share the basics of the Christian faith.
If you’re like me, you may feel a little guilty that you haven’t been consistent in worshipping the Lord. If you have children, you may feel like you aren’t worthy to lead them in worship habits, because you haven’t been consistent in them yourself.
Let me encourage you. Scripture tells us, “For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2 (NLT)
Whatever you’ve been doing up to this point, this time of quarantine provides us with a chance to start over. This is the right time. Today is the day of salvation. Develop new habits. Turn your heart back to the Lord. Instill worship habits in yourself and in your family that will last long after we’ve entered back into our normal routines.
If we do, we’ll create disciplines and routines that connect us deeply with God. If you have a family, your children just might develop spiritual memories of this season that keep and sustain them for the rest of their lives! What better way could there be to spend this “pause” in our lives?
In closing, I pray that this ancient prayer from the Old Testament will sink deep into every fiber of your being and resonate in your heart and life. Seek the Lord today and be blessed by His face!
“‘The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”