201: A Culture of Faith – Worship and Faith

What is the connection between worship and faith? Does the way we worship affect our faith and the faith of others? Our lifetime’s journey is to know Jesus but as this week’s passage suggests it is also to make him known to others, and ‘to proclaim his truth’. Paul wants the worship of the Corinthians to overflow and encourage others to see the truth of Jesus. He sees worship as a way to build and strengthen the faith of the church.

Words for the week

1 Corinthians 14  (The Message)

Prayer Language

Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it – because it does. Give yourselves to the gifts God gives you. Most of all, try to proclaim his truth. If you praise him in the private language of tongues, God understands you but no one else does, for you are sharing intimacies just between you and him. But when you proclaim his truth in everyday speech, you’re letting others in on the truth so that they can grow and be strong and experience his presence with you.

Proclaiming God’s truth to the church in its common language brings the whole church into growth and strength. I want all of you to develop intimacies with God in prayer, but please don’t stop with that. Go on and proclaim his clear truth to others. It’s more important that everyone have access to the knowledge and love of God in language everyone understands than that you go off and cultivate God’s presence in a mysterious prayer language – unless, of course, there is someone who can interpret what you are saying for the benefit of all.

Why don’t you concentrate on doing what helps everyone in the church?

Pray for the insight and ability to bring others into that intimacy. If I pray in tongues, my spirit prays but my mind lies fallow, and all that intelligence is wasted. So what’s the solution? The answer is simple enough. Do both. I should be spiritually free and expressive as I pray, but I should also be thoughtful and mindful as I pray. I should sing with my spirit, and sing with my mind.

But if some unbelieving outsiders walk in on a service where people are speaking out God’s truth, the plain words will bring them up against the truth and probe their hearts.

So here’s what I want you to do. When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight

Writer’s thoughts

Writing this Soulfood has reminded me of my first love for Jesus. When I first became a Christian I had an encounter with Jesus in a dream that changed my life and my ability to love. In the dream I experienced God’s deep love for me, I knew that nothing can, could or will separate me from it.

An equally profound revelation in the dream was that his love held everything and everyone else as well. I often remember this dream as I worship. I remember how he first loved me, I position my heart to allow him to examine it and I renew my commitment for him to be king it. I can then thank him for how he has increased my capacity to love. If times are tough this is harder to do, but I know this is truth even if I’m not feeling very loving! As someone I knew put it succinctly ‘Worship is my response to God’s love for me’. In knowing him as a loving father I want others to know it too. Paul refers to this in our passage as the ‘insight and ability to bring others into that intimacy’.

There is a dynamic between my faith and worship and that of others that this Message translation of the Bible really emphasises. When we are gathered as a church in worship we can help each other increase our level of faith. I once had a picture of a lady dancing and worshipping in a red dress. She was completely free and joyful in her worshipping, at the same time the words ‘raise the faith’ came to mind. When I worship wholeheartedly as I have just described, faith rises up in me, I sense God’s presence more keenly.

lady-in-redI sometimes think there is a collective dynamic to worship that can be like a joyful dance. Occasionally in worship, the Holy Spirit will prompt me to pray for another or give them a word of encouragement. My daughter has a great testimony here. Recently whilst worshipping at ‘David’s Tent’ she felt God wanted to free her from a fear that stopped her sleeping at night. At the same time a girl in the row in front passed this scripture to her:

When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
 when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.’  Proverbs 3.24 

That story increases my faith level and makes me want to hear more stories like it. It gives me confidence in God. I think this is why Paul urges the Corinthians when they gather for worship to be ‘prepared with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight.’

The Alpha testimonies are amazing, they increase faith and inspire us. Stories, insights dreams, words and pictures build us up and strengthen us as a body. When we choose to ‘proclaim the truth of Jesus’ in a public gathering we strengthen the church as a whole and impact unbelievers.

Own it personally

  • I have found it helpful to think about how I worship and whether my faith and attitude impacts those around me, perhaps you would like to do the same.
  • Paul says to the Corinthian church, ‘So here’s what I want you to do. When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight.’
    I think this verse is very challenging. It calls each of us to be prepared to share. I don’t think our wonderful leaders would thank me if we all went rushing up to the front, but I think part of all our thinking should be – have I anything to tell that would encourage the faith of others?
  • I just want to encourage you if you get a prompting from the Holy Spirit during worship that you find the courage to act upon it. You never know it might be the key to help someone else to have ‘access to the knowledge and love of God’. We all need to encourage each other in our faith!

Speak it out, pray and prophesy

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you that you drew me with cords of loving kindness. Thank you that your heart is always for my spiritual well-being. Thank you that you want to woo me into knowing you more. Help me take whatever love, wisdom and understanding I have gained from you and use it to encourage others. Help me strengthen their faith and help them on their journey.
Amen

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