I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness. (Psalm 7:17a)
Have you ever found it difficult to stay focused during a worship service? You should be singing, or agreeing in prayer, or preparing to commune, but all you seem to notice is everything happening around you.
Rather than the words of the song, you notice the voice of the person next to you, or across the sanctuary. They are loud or off-key and you are distracted. Rather than joining your heart to the prayer offered by another, you find yourself counting how many times they say “um” or “just” or some other word or phrase. They appear to stumble through a prayer, and you are distracted. Rather than giving yourself wholly to the moment of communion as you receive the bread and cup, your thoughts turn to how so-and-so sitting in front of you is moving around. They fidget, and you are distracted.
All this opportunity for worship – the singing, the prayer, the communion – and there you are out of focus and out of sorts.
This happens. To all of us. Maybe more than we want to admit.
Yet, on the one hand this is part of worship in an imperfect setting, part of worship this side of heaven. So, a certain amount of distraction is to be expected, even embraced as a reminder that we aren’t in heaven yet.
However, there is something we can do to help with what we find distracting during worship. I don’t mean go across the sanctuary and tell the loud and off-key singer to quiet down. I don’t mean pull aside the one praying with “ums” and “justs” and instruct them in proper address to the Almighty, and I certainly don’t mean grab the shoulder of the person in front of you who struggles to sit still during communion.
What we need to do to overcome distractions is remember that the focus of our worship is on God and His righteousness. There are plenty of times in Scripture when the Lord decides to correct worshipers, and unless He is showing up in your service to correct the singing and praying and communion follies, then perhaps your best approach is to simply ask Him to help you get your eyes off the imperfect around you (and in you) so that you can look to Him and praise Him for who He is.
Sounds simple enough, and you may be tempted to doubt if it works.
It does. I promise.
As a matter of fact, I am quite confident that someone has asked God to help them get their eyes off you during a worship service so that they can better focus on Him. They see you wince over the singing you don’t like. They notice your change in position when the prayer falls into repetitious words. They see you fidget with frustration when someone around you can’t sit still during communion. The same thing they ask of God when they see you and are distracted by you is what we should all ask of Him.
Lord, will you kindly help us praise You according to Your righteousness?
©2019 by Thomas J. Gentry II. All rights reserved. tjgentry.org