Adoration can be Awkward
The popular “ACTS” model for prayer guides us in four key postures for our prayer life:
Adoration: Praising and honoring God
Confession: Agreeing with God about your sin, and declaring your dependence on his grace.
Thanksgiving: Telling God what you’re happy he has done for you and given to you.
Supplication: Asking God for the things you want and need
All four of these elements can be a challenge for different reasons, but the Adoration portion can seem especially difficult. Psalm 33 reminds us that it is fitting for us, who love God, to praise him. But sometimes it doesn’t feel fitting.
One of the reasons Adoration can feel awkward is because we don’t “adore” many things on a regular basis…at least not verbally. Two people in the early stages of falling in love might write gushing love letters to each other, full of adoration-type statements. But that adoration comes out of intense emotion that doesn’t usually list, and our prayer life doesn’t always have the intensity of a love letter. Sometimes worship can feel full of emotion, but sometimes (most of the time!) it feels mundane and “everyday”. If you feel pressure to manufacture passionate emotions in order to adore God, praying can feel fake and manipulative.
Perhaps the biggest roadblock to Adoration is we simply don’t know what to say. We know we are supposed to praise, glorify, worship, and adore God… and we want to… but how? What kind of words actually adore God?
Maybe you find yourself trying to find more and more synonyms for great: “God you are awesome! God you are amazing! God you are so….wonderful!” As true as these statements are, they aren’t very specific. If the adjectives we are using about God are all generic, they don’t have any meaning to us.
When our experience of adoration is limited to empty words spoken under the weight of guilt that you aren’t “feeling it”, it’s no wonder if feels like a chore.
Worshipping in Spirit and in Truth
In John 4, Jesus explained to the woman at the well that God desired to be worshipped “in spirit and in truth”. If we want to get better at adoring God in prayer, than it has to be in spirit and truth as well.
To worship “in spirit” means that we worship with our whole selves. We can’t hate God inwardly and worship God outwardly. Our adoration must come from our actual affections, our actual belief.
This is something we cannot do on our own. We need Jesus to transform our minds and hearts so that we will change from the inside out. As we grow in our understanding of the gospel, God will prune our hearts so that we bear the fruit of true, authentic adoration.
The second part – “worshipping in truth” – is the focus of this Family Discipleship Kit. In order to worship God in truth, we must ground all of our worship in an accurate picture of who God is. To worship God by saying things that aren’t true (or words that are meaningless) is like worshipping a graven image of our design. Scripture instructs us instead to worship with accurate descriptions of and declarations about our majestic God.
This is why Adoration can be so difficult: adoring God requires theological knowledge. Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication rely more heavily on your own experience and current circumstances. We don’t need to do a lot of preparation to figure out what we want or need. Even a non-religious person or small child can list things that they are thankful for, or things they regret.
But adoration challenges you to draw upon what you know to be true about God…and that takes Bible study. If you want to worship God in spirit and in truth, than you have to know what the truth is. If you want to ascribe praise to God, you have to know him.I said earlier that this Family Discipleship Kit was more focused more on worshipping “in truth” than “in spirit” but the more we focus on the truth the more the spirit follows. Consider Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:17-21:
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
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“Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.” Psalm 34:3
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