To Worship God

And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. Then all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. —Nehemiah 8:5–6

Since I was raised in a very traditional church setting, it took me some time as an adult to allow my outward man to express what was going on in my inner man during worship. I love this scene recorded in Nehemiah as Israel celebrated the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem in an amazing fifty-two days. I love the respect shown for God’s words. When the book was opened, the people stood in honor of His book. Ezra blessed the Lord, and the people answered in agreement, “Amen, Amen!” with uplifted hands. They bowed their heads and even prostrated themselves before the Lord, physically putting their faces to the ground.

There is no proper posture or position for worship, and worship certainly is not an orchestrated time where all must do this or that at the same time and in the same place. But the scene described above was a genuine spontaneous reaction of the Jews to being in their own city again after having rebuilt the wall. Now, for the first time in a generation, they were reading the word of the Lord together. Though I do not believe that a time of worship ought to be an uncontrolled free-for-all, I do believe that uplifted hands, faces to the ground, and cries of “amen, amen” are appropriate responses to the speaking or singing of God’s Word.

I have found this kind of worship particularly significant when I am all alone with the Lord. Something just seems so right about occasionally getting on your face before a holy God, and there is something very appropriate about raised hands and shouts of amen as an offering of praise to our God. Maybe this isn’t your church’s style of worship, and maybe you would find yourself an unwelcome center of attention if you worshiped like this. But you can worship freely when you’re alone. Get on your face before God, bow your head, lift your hands when no one else sees you. For the fact of the matter is, He is the only one that matters. It’s hard to be prideful when you’re on your face before a holy God, and it is rather easy to feel humble when you bow before Him. So if you’re like me and more reserved in your outward expression, then cut loose and praise Him when you’re all alone. That’s when your worship is the most sincere anyway.

Excerpt from “Body Builders” now available on Amazon.

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BARRY STAGNER

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