Going Through the Motions

From Issue: Discovery 2/1/2009

Have you ever spoken with someone who seemed distracted? Most likely this has happened to you many times. Maybe you really needed to talk with your older brother about something, but as soon as you began speaking to him, a football game came on TV. Once his attention was distracted, he rarely made eye contact with you while you continued speaking. He only responded to you by giving very brief answers, like “uh sure,” “well…yeah, okay,” “maybe later.” You could tell he really didn’t want to talk to you while the game was on TV.

What if something like this happened every time you talked with your brother—you begin speaking, and he quickly is distracted by something or someone? You probably would begin to think that your brother really did not love you very much. If he cared about your feelings, then he would pay more attention to you, right?

Do you realize that every time we go to worship, God wants our attention? It is true that our whole lives should be focused on trying to please God, but worship is a special time in which we should be focused on Him. Jesus once rebuked a group of scribes and Pharisees by quoting from the prophet Isaiah, who said: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9).

God wants our attention in worship. When we pray, He does not want us merely to get into some kind of prayer posture (like bowing our heads or kneeling); He wants us to pray from our hearts (even when someone else is leading the prayer). He expects us to worship Him “in spirit” (John 4:23-24). God does not simply want us to move our mouths when we sing or eat the bread during communion. He wants us to worship Him by having our minds in tune with what we are doing—whether it’s praying, singing, listening to the preacher, giving money, or eating the Lord’s Supper.

When the church comes together to worship God, it is not a time just to “go through the motions”; it is a time to glorify God respectfully for Who He is and what He has done for us.


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