The heart of worship concerns the heart’s response to God. If you grew up singing Matt Redman’s ubiquitous reflection on worship, you will have had the echoes of Psalm 51 knocking around in your mind. The psalmist, David, in a rock-bottom moment in his kingship, writes that God does not require mindless offerings but that, “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,” and that God will not turn away from a “broken and contrite heart.”
I’m reminded of this often in the planning of worship services, being keenly aware of the tension between what we do corporately and how the thoughts of our hearts feed into it. Worshipping God isn’t limited (thankfully!) to the bounds of church services, yet the Scriptures paint an expansive picture of Israel, and the early Church, reflecting (or not!) the glory of God to the people around them, particularly as they worship. When things go disastrously wrong it is always traced back to the source: the heart (Psalm 106, Isaiah 1, Acts 5).
The good news is that God is gracious to those who are honest with him and orients them in the right direction. This is important. When we confess our own shortcomings, our worship is set in relation to what God has done, is doing, and will do through his Son, Jesus Christ. When David asks God, “open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise,” he is pleading to be set in the right relation to God so that he may reflect who God is to the world around him and reflect the praises of the world back to God. The heart of the one who comes in humility to Jesus, God’s own Son and our Saviour, will be renewed to its rightful place in relationship to God.
May the words of our mouths and the meditation of all of our hearts be pleasing to the Lord, our Rock and Redeemer.
Minister of Worship