John Bunyan once wrote, “He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find him the rest of the day” and, “Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.” This was true in the 1600s, and it is true today. One who lacks the discipline of daily private worship also lacks a close, experiential relationship with God. In Romans 8:29, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Christians are being molded in Christlikeness, but not without a rigorous, disciplined effort in worship. Paul’s exhortation to, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) is a call to faithfully persistent devotion to God in all that He has given to man to trust, love, and have communion with Him.
Private worship is the means by which man experiences a personal relationship with God. It is the fulfillment of the command to, “train (or discipline) yourself for godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). Private worship, in the most simple definition, is the doing of spiritual disciplines. Donald Whitney writes, “[T]he only road to Christian maturity and godliness (a biblical term synonymous with Christlikeness and holiness) passes through the practice of the spiritual disciplines… godliness is the goal of the disciplines, and when we remember this, the spiritual disciplines become a delight instead of drudgery” (Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life – a must read book for Christians).
The spiritual disciplines previously referred to are things like Bible reading, study, prayer, and fasting, to name a few. While we must readily admit that worship is an ongoing, minute-by-minute reality in the Christian life (Romans 12:1), it must also be recognized that this worship is cultivated by times of intentional and focused use of the means of grace each day. This is precisely how one is “transformed by the renewal of [the] mind” (Romans 12:2), for ” faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).
Genuine Christians will most certainly have a desire for daily private worship, but for most it doesn’t typically result in action. Why? Is it time? Too many distractions? Not a thrilling enough experience? A sign of unbelief? Perhaps it’s a combination of several of these elements. Most certainly, the human tendency toward unbelief, and a misinformed understanding of the sovereignty of God, leads the heart to conclude that private worship, while nice to do, is not all that important. Likewise, for many Christians the question is not, “Why should I do private worship?”, but rather, “How do I do private worship?” Unbelief and misdirection is a combination that will kill worship before it even begins.
I will be writing several posts throughout the week about why we do private worship, and providing helps to direct us in establishing how it can be done.
(By: Nick Kennicott)