If every song and scripture connects with you in worship, it might be time to try another church. If what is included in worship is only as wide as your current experience, there’s a real problem. Our God is bigger. Our human experience is bigger. Our worship should be bigger as well. Let me explain.
Musician Michael Gungor has been quoted as saying, “Approximately 70% of the Psalms are laments. Approximately 0% of the top 150 CCLI songs [songs most sung in churches] are laments.”
That’s a problem, even if he overstates his case. If we avoid lament in our worship, we’re not engaging in biblical worship. And we’ve narrowed the range of our worship dangerously.
If we were to keep record of our prayer lives and of our expressions of worship in church gatherings, we’d find the range of topics touched on and the feelings expressed would be fairly narrow. We tend to pray the same things over and over again. And we tend to go back to the same scriptures and songs over and over again in worship.
Knowing this about ourselves, we at The Table have made a conscious decision to take the time to read aloud and pray an entire psalm each time we gather for worship. And not just the short ones. And not just the nice ones.
Because of that, we encounter all kinds of gnarly topics and emotions that most of us avoid in our praying and definitely avoid in polite conversation, much less worship. But there they are. Blatant. Honest. Uncomfortable. But prayed.
This is both worship and school at the same time.
It’s worship, because it offers up to God every corner of who we are, especially the neglected dark corners of who we are. And every offering to God is an act of worship.
It’s school, because we’re stretching ourselves and learning new ways of praying, ways that feel as uncomfortable as just about every yoga position is to me. We learn new language to pray old feelings. And we discover that all of that stuff going on inside of us actually has to do with God.
So, it was certainly the wisdom of God that put that 150-song book of Psalms in the middle of our Bibles. It’s the biggest collection of writings in all the Scriptures, and for good reason. May our praying, worshiping hearts be shaped by them. And may songwriters follow suit.
Worship must miss where we are at right now so that it can teach us how to worship in those spaces we will be down the road.