Every Sunday, we were there. Those metal folding chairs with brown cushions. Sleek hymn books – black and red – with embossed lettering that I traced countless times. A number is called out. You’d better start flipping pages or you’d get a questioning look from mom or dad. It seemed to me that we always sang the same songs. I liked to sing, but quickly bored of the melody. I decided to learn alto. Then I got bored of alto so I tried tenor. But for most of my youth, singing on Sunday morning was just music. God gave us amazing multitasking minds. I could hit every alto note spot-on while thinking of what my schedule would be next week. I could nail those syncopated rhythms while rehashing last night’s conversation.
So many Sundays I went through the motions.
Singing but not praising.
Closing my eyes but not praying.
Complying but not obeying.
I’m sure this problem is not unique to me. I would surmise that many youths born into Christian families experience the same. You do it because you were taught it. Maybe, like me, you accepted Christ at an early age, but while your physical body grew, your spirituality stayed in infancy.
When I was a teenager, I started to understand what following the Lord meant. Faced with friends and influences that differed from what I grew up with, I had to make decisions. What did I really believe?
A new test came when I didn’t live under my parents’ roof anymore. Is Sunday morning important to me? Am I going to get up when no one’s knocking on my door? Yet still, many Sundays I found myself sitting in front of some bread and juice with my mind miles away.
you can warm a spot on the pew – but no one knows your mind.
You can sing like an angel – but no one knows your heart.
Looking back, I regret all the times my praise has been words on a page and vibrations in my vocal cords. Praise and worship must be intentional. It takes focus; you have to train and discipline yourself.
Yes, part of the battle is physically making the effort to come. But the crux is in your mind. It takes a shift in mentality.
If all week I’ve been living for myself, my routine, my priorities… I’m going to keep thinking about those things during the worship meeting.
But if I’ve been meeting with the Lord every day all week – letting Him make the game plan, having Him make the daily decisions, entrusting everything to Him, then I’m going to understand and enjoy so much more the hour dedicated purely to remembering His sacrifice.
“My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You.”
Let’s worship in spirit and in truth.
Laura Key lives in central Iowa with her husband Joshua. She taught languages in both the U.S. and Peru, where she lived for several years. Now she’s focused on writing devotionals and materials to help young people navigate transitions. Her new book College Crossroads: Navigating Freshman Year and Beyond points students to the Wisdom of God and provides practical help in adjusting to their new environment. The Keys fellowship and serve alongside believers at Lake Country Bible Chapel.