How to Worship When You Don’t Feel Like It

5 ways to re-engage with worship when you feel disconnected.

“I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned,” you sing along with the worship leader. You try to stir yourself up to worship, closing your eyes and maybe even lifting your hands, but to be honest, you’re just not feeling it.

For many of us, worship is one of the key elements in our relationship and response to God. The majority of our church services have times of corporate sung worship, our music collections are saturated with worship albums, and people often know Bible verses not from reading the Scripture but from singing the words. This is, of course, a good thing. Worship is from God, and it is right that we offer songs of praise to Him.

However, with worship playing such a big role in shaping our faith, what happens in those times when we don't feel like worshiping? What happens when you desperately try to engage with worship but nothing seems to happen? When there is no connection, no response, no affirmation that your worship is going somewhere?

Here are five small steps to help you reengage with worship and meet with God afresh.

1. Remember That Worship Isn't About How You Feel.

The Westminster Catechism puts it perfectly: "Man's chief aim is to glorify God." At the end of the day, worship isn't about how we feel. There is no doubt that worship does provoke an emotional response in us, and that is a good thing. We can find ourselves overwhelmed at the love of the Savior, comforted in times of need or reassured when the path seems dark.

At the end of the day, worship isn't about how we feel.

But these responses are not the purpose of worship. The reason we worship is to give God the glory and honor He deserves. We love because He first loved us, and we worship because He deserves the praise.

The minute we start to enter into worship with our own agendas and our own wish lists is the minute we begin to miss the point. We lift our voices to God in recognition of who He is. Often God blesses us by responding to us and meeting with us in that place—but that is never the primary reason. If you're struggling to engage in worship, remember why you are doing it.

2. Try Different Styles of Worship.

Worship has become a bit of a buzzword in the Church and has come to signify musical response—and that does form a big part of it. But worship doesn't only come with a guitar and stage lights.

If you are finding that you aren't engaging with your regular pattern of worship, try something different. Listen to some older songs or songs from a completely different genre. Try worshiping in a completely different way—through art, dance, writing or whatever you enjoy.

Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. David danced naked before the Lord—and while that's not necessarily the most appropriate model to follow, his reckless abandon to worship his God is a powerful challenge to us to lose our inhibitions and worship in whatever way we feel led.

3. Don't Be Afraid to Stand in it and Let it Surround You.

One of the most beautiful aspects of congregational worship is that it lifts many voices up in one song to one Savior. Communities gather together to proclaim the same truths about God and push into His presence together.

But there is no rule that says you have to be singing all the words to be worshiping. Sometimes, just resting and abiding in the moment is just as (if not more) powerful. Standing in the middle of a sea of voices praising God can be incredibly moving and poignant. Sometimes with worship, less is more—don't be afraid to take a step back to listen.

4. Find a Rhythm of Worship That Goes Through Your Week.

One of the big downsides of the way the modern church culture has developed is the way worship has become associated with Sundays only. Worship gets slotted in at the beginning and end of our services. We schedule it in for specific times.

Worship is something that should be weaved into everything we do in our lives. Each part of our day should be soaked in worship.

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But worship is something that should be weaved into everything we do in our lives. Each part of our day should be soaked in worship. That doesn't mean we're spending our days singing, but that everything we do is done against a backdrop of wanting to glorify God.

Matt Redman, when asked recently in the latest print edition of RELEVANT what he would say to people who don't feel the joy of worship, put it beautifully: "You can’t breathe out till you’ve breathed in." Breathe in God's love regularly. Pray. Spend time in His presence. Then breathe out through worship.

5. Do it Anyway.

Sometimes, nothing beats crying out in worship when you feel least like doing it. There's power in persistence and perseverance, and God recognizes when we are worshiping despite our desire not to.

God's love is the same no matter how we feel, and our response to Him doesn't depend on our emotional engagement. God is love, God is good—and those are permanent truths. Proclaiming those things can help us to worship when we don't feel like it, and bring us back to a place of thanksgiving and wonder at the vast love God has for us.

Top Comments

Dawn Herring Fraley

2

Dawn Herring Fraley commented…

What resounded here was letting corporate worship envelope the person......

lynda t

159

lynda t commented…

The hardest thing I find is the songs chosen during praise and worship. For me, I want the songs to be about God, not me. I might like the song 'I am a friend of God' and play it over and over (just an example, people), but it's not a praise and worship song. For me to really get into praise and worship AS WORSHIP, not enjoyment it needs to be about who God is, how great He is, even what He has done for me. It can be 'I will worship' kind of songs and what He has done for me (salvation, etc), but I have a hard time with songs that sing about what I will do for Him. To clarify, I'm okay when it's a phrase, or a portion of the song, but when the whole song is not about Him, I quickly get out of the worship mode. Most of my worship I end up doing at home. I have been to a lot of churches, for various reasons, lately, even my home church, and I find it seems to be like this. I only listen to a christian, and, to me, there is a difference between an enjoyable, even emotional song, and a praise/worship song. I would love to hear if anyone else experiences this, as it wasn't addressed in the article, and how you deal with it, if you do.

7 Comments

Dawn Herring Fraley

2

Dawn Herring Fraley commented…

What resounded here was letting corporate worship envelope the person......

Dawn Herring Fraley

2

Dawn Herring Fraley commented…

In spiritual warfare we get bound from corporate worship and atmosphere of worship would destroy the yoke. Dawnfraley.org

lynda t

159

lynda t commented…

The hardest thing I find is the songs chosen during praise and worship. For me, I want the songs to be about God, not me. I might like the song 'I am a friend of God' and play it over and over (just an example, people), but it's not a praise and worship song. For me to really get into praise and worship AS WORSHIP, not enjoyment it needs to be about who God is, how great He is, even what He has done for me. It can be 'I will worship' kind of songs and what He has done for me (salvation, etc), but I have a hard time with songs that sing about what I will do for Him. To clarify, I'm okay when it's a phrase, or a portion of the song, but when the whole song is not about Him, I quickly get out of the worship mode. Most of my worship I end up doing at home. I have been to a lot of churches, for various reasons, lately, even my home church, and I find it seems to be like this. I only listen to a christian, and, to me, there is a difference between an enjoyable, even emotional song, and a praise/worship song. I would love to hear if anyone else experiences this, as it wasn't addressed in the article, and how you deal with it, if you do.

James Lam

1

James Lam replied to lynda t's comment

I understand that the author wrote this as practical steps, and I agree with point 1 & Lynda T's comment -- Worship isn't about ourselves.

I think there's a tendency for contemporary churches to focus on one's self (e.g. How God can help me with my finances etc.) Of course, personal relationship with God is of utmost importance; God is not distant and He's involved in our daily lives.

I find my sentiments similar to Lynda's: I have a hard time with songs that focuses on what I will do / when the songs have more "I" than God. I find it difficult when some songs were plainly about "Let's lift our hands / let's jump / dance / come let's worship". As Lynda said, I'm okay with a portion of song saying it, but I find it perplexing if the whole song is about it. Why spend the whole time singing about WANTING to praise Him, why don't just sing praises to him directly?

Although I don't quite agree with it, I come to appreciate that everyone worships God differently. Who are we to dictate what kind of worship people offer God? While those simple words of wanting to sing to God might sound some what 'meaningless' to some, it might be easier understood, especially to those who have no prior encounter with Christianity. It will be more prevalent in the age to come when old english words in hymn is not common anymore. (not common now anyway) I love hymns -- the depth, the richness, the creative use of words; like poetry, an art piece. However, if a prostitute walks into a church, hearing, "...absolve me from my sins, by thine hallowing Spirit dwell...", it might not be easily understood. (Then one might argue that the work of the Spirit transcends human language.)

I was in a Charismatic church for 6 years, but has since moved to a more traditional church. I realised how dehumanising and unresponsive worship can be in a more traditional setting. If we were to sing of the splendour, the greatness, the joy & majesty of God, how can one be so emotionless as though the reality has not struck us. Heck, we could express more excitement when we go on a holiday than the very nature of God Himself. (I'm speaking in extremes) Church culture dictates the style, but I know of people from both ends (charismatic & traditional) whom are faithful to Jesus & his resurrection, who believes in the Triune God, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the salvation & life everlasting.

If the end goal of worship is to worship God, it might not be the best idea to allow our pre-conceived ideas of 'How to do it' stifle us from the very act of doing so. I'm a person who rather remain silent than singing to God if I don't feel I'm being right with God / if I don't agree with the lyrics, I would rather remain silent & spend time reconciling with God than to 'push through' singing the song. My conviction is that God does not desire our half-hearted worship. (Isa 1:13 - when the rebellious Israelites were unrepentant & offering sacrifices to God) If our whole life is about worshipping God, does that 30 minutes in church matter so much that I need to force myself to sing? Some churches rally the idea of pushing through as to create the 'atmosphere', 'emotion' in worship, to encourage one another. I think it can be unhealthy at times because it suggests that you undermine the work of the Spirit to a point that it has to be man-made. (Again, speaking in extremes) Sometimes, the focus of creating the atmosphere could draw us away from truly worshipping God. John Piper once said people like the idea of worshipping God, people like the idea of loving God; but not actually worshipping & loving God. I agree in facilitating worship, but not that way.

I am still learning not to be judgemental. Even if I do not agree with any particular element in the church culture of worship, I should not spend time harping on how 'wrong' it is in my heart while everyone else is worshipping God. I need to constantly remind myself that worship isn't focused on me.

Branden Earp

3

Branden Earp commented…

This is great and a great reminder when I honestly just don't feel like worshiping God. All of life is worship, not just what we do on Sundays. Thank you for writing this!

Matthew Zelinsky

1

Matthew Zelinsky commented…

"What do you say while praying all those hours in the chapel?" "Nothing. I look at Him, He looks at me." Could try silent/contemplative worship of Jesus in a tabernacle or Adoration, Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in a Catholic church :)

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