In 1979 Fred Pratt Green wrote a simple worship hymn which has been a favorite of mine, though it is hard to sing. He wrote:
God is here! As we his people meet to offer praise and prayer, may we find in fuller measure what it is in Christ we share.(1)
I frequently use the lyrics of this hymn as a Call to Worship and as a reminder to all worshippers to forget the people who are leading worship and the people worshipping with them as they worship God.
If you worship with a sole concentration on God and His presence in worship’s particular time and place, you will always leave worship knowing that you were with God.
Christians have a ghastly habit of evaluating worship by measuring human traits, actions, and quantities. Of these, the worse measuring stick is to evaluate worship by measuring your emotions.
Unfortunately, too many Christians never truly worship because they come not to meet God, who is present, but to have their emotions and feeling massaged, as if they are part of a religious focus group directed by a Pastor and resident musicians.
Hannah Whitehall Smith provided this bit of wisdom to her daughter who was wondering why she did not always feel the presence of God in worship:
The whole reason is in you, yourself. Say to yourself, “The Lord is here just as much as He ever is with me, but I am such a dunce as to be looking at the people instead of at Him, and so I do not see or feel His presence so much. Ignore your feelings altogether. How strange it is that feelings will crop up all along the line as stumbling blocks. (2)
Worship is not so much a matter of what you or someone else makes of it, but rather it is more about who you focus on when you worship.
I am with David, when he wrote:
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” (3)
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Fred Pratt Green, God is Here!, The Presbyterian Hymnal, (Westminster/John Knox Press, 1990).
Hannah Whitall Smith and Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life: The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Psalm 122:1.