Worship in the Everyday Ordinary

A cursory reading of the spontaneous and glorious worship described in John’s vision or Revelation is filled with hard to grasp imagery and metaphor. These descriptions might overwhelm our understanding and possibly shut down our curiosity. Yet in this season of Eastertide where we live in the joy and possibility of renewal in the now, this text and our questioning of it might be just the place where God meets us today. How might we make room for the spontaneous moments of worship in our everyday ordinary? What beauty or glimmers of gratitude in the small things are worthy of our stopping to notice and simply offer our voluntary praise and thanks?

Revelation 5:11-14 (NIV)
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Did a word, or phrase or picture shimmer for you as you listened to the text? Journal or artistically express what you noticed.

Place yourself in this scene. Who are you? What are you witnessing? What are you thinking? What are you feeling? Is there anything you want to say to Jesus or do for him? What does he in turn say to you?

Savor any consoling words or pictures God gives you. Simply rest in God’s presence.

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What Do You Know For Sure?

Sometimes we are gifted with an encounter with God which changes everything, including the trajectory of our lives. We know that we know that we have met with God - the Father, Jesus the Son, or the Holy Spirit. Sometimes these encounters happen when we least expect them, such as with this man born blind since birth. Sometimes we encounter God because we seek, ask or wait for one. Regardless of why we encounter the living God, God says, "you can know me" (Ps. 46:10) and "you can find me" (Jer. 29:14). As you pray with this passage concerning the testimony of the blind man, the Spirit may remind you of your own personal knowing of Jesus. No one can take that knowing away from you.

John 9:24-34 (NLT)
 So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”
25 “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”
26 “But what did he do?” they asked. “How did he heal you?”
27 “Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
28 Then they cursed him and said, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses! 29 We know God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where this man comes from.”
30 “Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? 31 We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. 32 Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.”
34 “You were born a total sinner!” they answered. “Are you trying to teach us?” And they threw him out of the synagogue.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Was there any particular emotion which emerged as you listened to the scripture? Talk it over with Jesus in your prayer.

Is there anything regarding God which you know that you know? Some truth anchored deeply within you? Take some time to remember and cherish it.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

A Place of Great Abundance

The great teachers remind us that abundance is not situational, transactional, or a destination. Abundance is something which happens within us. The overflow of our heart is praise and gratitude to God. As you enter into prayer with this text, come and see what our God has done.
            Open our eyes God to see what you have done.

Psalm 66:1-12 (NLT)
Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth!
2     Sing about the glory of his name!
    Tell the world how glorious he is.
3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
    Your enemies cringe before your mighty power.
4 Everything on earth will worship you;
    they will sing your praises,
    shouting your name in glorious songs.” Interlude
5 Come and see what our God has done,
    what awesome miracles he performs for people!
6 He made a dry path through the Red Sea,
    and his people went across on foot.
    There we rejoiced in him.
7 For by his great power he rules forever.
    He watches every movement of the nations;
    let no rebel rise in defiance. Interlude
8 Let the whole world bless our God
    and loudly sing his praises.
9 Our lives are in his hands,
    and he keeps our feet from stumbling.
10 You have tested us, O God;
    you have purified us like silver.
11 You captured us in your net
    and laid the burden of slavery on our backs.
12 Then you put a leader over us.
    We went through fire and flood,
    but you brought us to a place of great abundance.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What word, phrase, image, or feeling caught your attention as you listened? Bring it into your prayer. Journal your conversation.

Can you name an emotion which you felt as you heard these words? Where do you feel it in your body? Without judging it, can you bring it before God in prayer?

Reflect on your own experiences of trials and abundance. Is there anything from them which you want to talk over with God?

Waking the Dawn with Our Song

In a burst of heartfelt expression, Psalm 108 might compel us to consider the song in our own heart to God. Some people literally waken each morning with a song humming from somewhere deep inside the soul. These songs speak to the core of our longings, placed inside of us for ourselves and God. They might sound the purpose of our lives or provide anchoring from which we live out the day. Pause to listen each morning as you waken and notice the song lodged deep within your spirit. Linger in the gentle awaking of this song within. May it be fully released.

Psalm 108:1-5 NLT

My heart is confident in you, O God;
    no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart!
2 Wake up, lyre and harp!
    I will wake the dawn with my song.
3 I will thank you, Lord, among all the people.
    I will sing your praises among the nations.
4 For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens.
    Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
5 Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.
    May your glory shine over all the earth.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What words or phrases stood out to you as you listened to the text? What pictures formed in your mind? Bring them into your prayer with Jesus.

Reflect on your "confidence in God meter". What affects your rating? Where does God, life experiences and prayers reside within this? Bring these reflections into your prayer.

Pause and give names to the blessings that encircle you today. What blessings do you seek?

God Leadeth Me

Sometimes surprising, often times just-in-time, always faithful, God is leading us. Pause today, to consider and pray how God is guiding you.

What are you noticing in and around you?

Where do you notice love, or peace, or life-giving joy?
Where do love, peace or life-giving joy seem noticeably absent?

Both reflections, when done prayerfully with the help of the Holy Spirit and over a period of time, can provide clues to how God is guiding. Holy conversations with a soul friend or spiritual director, can help you listen, discern and recognize God's voice. As we grow in intimately knowing the Good Shepherd, we grow in trusting the Shepherd's voice.

"...the sheep hear his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out...My purpose is to give life in all its fullness. "  - Jesus, John 10

Psalm 43:3-5 (NIV)
Send me your light and your faithful care,
    let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
    to the place where you dwell.

Then I will go to the altar of God,
    to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the lyre,
    O God, my God.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

For Prayer and Reflection:

What word(s), phrase or pictures in the passage come to you in this reading? Bring them into your prayer with Jesus.

Where are you noticing God's light shining in your circumstances now? How is this light leading you?

How is God showing you faithful care? What care do you need right now? Have a conversation with God about your needs for care and your gratitude for care received.

If discouragement, sadness or despair are where you are now, how might God dwell with you in them?

 

Taste and See

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
    no shadow of shame will darken their faces.  Ps. 34:5

Could that which we taste and see actually bring this kind of joy and freedom? Surely, we are shaped and formed by what we give our senses to.

As you pray with this Psalm, ask the Holy Spirit to shift your gaze upon God and taste of God's presence in your circumstances right now. The good news is that God has the power to work this transformation of joy and freedom from shame in us.

Psalm 34

I will praise the LORD at all times.
    I will constantly speak his praises.
I will boast only in the LORD;
    let all who are helpless take heart.
Come, let us tell of the LORD’s greatness;
    let us exalt his name together.
I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me.
    He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
    no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened;
    he saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the LORD is a guard;
    he surrounds and defends all who fear him.
Taste and see that the LORD is good.
    Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Fear the LORD, you his godly people,
    for those who fear him will have all they need.
Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
    but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing.

For Prayer and Reflection:
•    What phrase or word spoke to you as you listened/read?
•    When have you particularly felt God’s presence in times of joy or in times of desperation?
•    How do you “see and taste” the Lord?
•    Talk to Jesus about this text. What do you hear Him say?

The Gate of Our Hearts

If we believe that we are the temple where God's Holy Spirit dwells, what might the gate which allows entrance to our hearts be like? Is it elegant and ornate to passerby's? Is it fortified with locks, chains and bars of iron? Can the gate be opened? And who will open it?
Ponder anew and enter that gate today. And may God give us the courage to trust his goodness and enduring love when we cannot see or feel it. 

This is what the Lord says...I will smash down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness-secret riches...Isaiah 45:2-3

Psalm 100 (NIV)

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
     Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
 Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Footnotes:
Psalm 100:3 Or and not we ourselves

For Reflection and Prayer:

What word, phrase, image, or feeling caught your attention as you listened? Bring it into your prayer with Jesus. Journal what Jesus says to you in response.

How does your soul want to respond to God in worship? What forms of worship seemed heartfelt to you in the past? Are there different (to you) forms of worship which you feel drawn to now?

When has God shown his goodness or enduring love to you? Perhaps you want to journal the details. Savor and linger with what the Holy Spirit brings to mind.

Bring to God your own thanksgiving list. What do you notice?
 

An Earnest Search

I wonder if the evidence of an earnest search for God is to know the security of His hand holding us up, even as we seem to be looking elsewhere. I wonder if our thirsts and longings might sometimes be satisfied before we even realize it. It’s a provocative question, isn’t it?—Am I already resting on the fulcrum of my earnest search? Am I already settled into “Oh, God, you are my God”?
What do you sense in your earnest search?

© Brenda Henry

Psalm 63:1-8 (NLT)
O God, you are my God;
    I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
    my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
    where there is no water.

I have seen you in your sanctuary
    and gazed upon your power and glory.
 
Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
    how I praise you!
 
I will praise you as long as I live,
    lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
 
You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
    I will praise you with songs of joy.
 
I lie awake thinking of you,
    meditating on you through the night.
 
Because you are my helper,
    I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
 
I cling to you;
    your strong right hand holds me securely.

For Prayer and Reflection:
Was there a word, phrase, or an image that captured your attention? What is its invitation to you?

Imagine yourself in one or more of the postures represented here (searching, thirsting, longing, gazing, praising, lying awake, singing, clinging, etc.). What is Jesus' posture towards you as you sit with him in that?

What satisfies you?