Henri Nouwen once asked Mother Teresa for spiritual direction. Spend one hour each day in adoration of your Lord, she said, and never do anything you know is wrong. Follow this, and you’ll be fine. Such simple yet profound advice. Worship is the act of the abandoned heart adoring its God. It is the union that we crave. Few of us experience anything like this on a regular basis, let alone for an hour each day. But it is what we need. Desperately. Simply showing up on Sunday is not even close to worship. Neither does singing songs with religious content pass for worship. What counts is the posture of the soul involved, the open heart pouring forth its love toward God and communing with him. It is a question of desire.
Worship occurs when we say to God, from the bottom of our hearts, “You are the One whom I desire.” As Thomas à Kempis prayed, “There is nothing created that can fully satisfy my desires. Make me one with You in a sure bond of heavenly love, for You alone are sufficient to Your lover, and without You all things are vain and of no substance.” We were created to be in relationship with God. We can find temporary satisfaction in the created things but ultimately we will not find deep and lasting satisfaction and comfort until we rest in the Creator.
I really enjoy reading through the Psalms. Not as a historical study or doctrinal review, but as worship. The Psalmists often start with a lament. “How long O Lord will you hide your face from me.” “My soul cries out to you yet you remain Silent.” The Psalmists then return to the promises of God to always be with them and recall the evidence of that providence through God’s action in the history of His people.
I wasn’t studying them with my head; I was praying them from my heart. It gave me a voice for the cry of my soul—the anguish, the weariness, the joy, the sorrow. It’s all there. What is remarkable is that no matter where the poet begins, he almost always ends in worship. This is no coincidence. It is where our journey must lead us. In the most often quoted phrase from Augustine, he says, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” He is referring to desire. Our only hope for rest from the incessant craving of our desire is in God, and us united to him. The full union, of course, is coming. That day is coming and our worship here is a foretaste of greater things to come!