Life seems to be filled with a constant stream of distractions.
When I work, there is typically people coming into my office to talk, mounting tasks that need to be addressed, administrative tasks that require attention, and, yes, music that is playing in the background. That is just the things going on inside my office. There are other distractions that are my mind, such as our family, Noah’s needs, Abbi’s health with the pregnancy, and many other things.
All of these things are necessary concerns, but they can take my focus away from the things that need my energies, especially when it comes to growing in faith and loving God.
What about you? Do you ever feel distracted when it comes to your faith with God? Even more, do you ever feel distracted when it comes to give our full attention to worship?
Psalm 100:4a. says, “Enter his praise with thanksgiving: go into his courts with his praise.” (NLT) We are to be people who respond to our love of God with acts of adoration for all that God has done in our lives.
Can we do that if our hearts are distracted from the presence of God?
To answer that, we really need to work through what does it mean to be distracted. Being distracted is more than not focusing on what is taking place in a moment of worship or life. Those are symptoms, often, of a deeper sense of distraction taking place in our hearts. When we are distracted in our walk with God and giving praise to the Lord, it means that we have allowed our focus and attention to be placed on something besides the love of God.
When we think of distraction in this way, we can see that a lot of things can prevent us from giving our full attention to God and the worship of the Lord. Distraction can occur, for instance, when we are consumed by the worries of our family and believe that it is all up to us to take care of the situation. Distraction can come when we believe that politicians and political victories are the only way for God’s desires to be realized. Distraction can come when we allow anger or resentment to consume us. Distraction can come when we are so busy doing the work of the church that we forget to be the church and people of God. Distraction can when we are more focused on what we think God should do or be about instead of hearing God’s desires for us.
Distraction prevents us from worshiping God. Why? Because our focus is turned inward to ourselves instead of being on the God of holy love.
So, how do we turn out the distractions of our lives, especially when it comes to worship?
First, we might need to remember what worship is all about. Worship, especially corporate worship, is not about coming to a performance or having our needs met. It is about responding as a community to the divine love of God and being sent out as a community to continue the act of worship through our words, actions, and deeds. In this way, when we remember that worship is about God and not about us it allows us to turn the focus towards God. When this happens, our focus is not on if we enjoyed the service, but was God glorified and did we grow in our faith and love of the Lord.
Second, we might need to pause and take a breath before we begin worship. This is something that is increasingly becoming a priority for me on Sunday mornings. As I enter my office for the last time, I usually take a small breath and pray as I put on my robe and grab my Bible. I do the same, recently, during the prelude as I join the choir to process into the sanctuary. These are moments of holy pause and centering. Do they always happen? No. I can forget to acts of spiritual growth as much as anyone else. Taking a breath and praying before worship, though, are important reminders that this moment of worship is not about me, but about God. Taking a moment to breathe and pray when we walk into the sanctuary or sit in our pew gives us a chance to simply stop and reflect upon why we are here and, truly, our need of God.
Finally, we need to let go and give ourselves fully to God in worship. Sometimes we hold ourselves back from giving ourselves completely to God. We believe, wrongly, that we can keep a bit of ourselves to God and that God only wants “10 percent” of me. God desires our entire lives. If we are holding ourselves back from giving our full selves to God, we prevent our very lives from being consumed and transformed by God’s love and desires for us. We do this by being willing to be stretched, challenged, and engaged in the fullness of God’s love and the moment of worship.
Distraction in worship, both corporate and personal, is a major issue in our faith lives. If we can remove the distractions, we would see lives transformed, grace revealed, and God’s love poured out in a mighty way.
My prayer for us all, including myself, is that we can truly tune out the distractions of our lives, so that in everything we give our complete focus to God.