If you only eat one meal a week, your body will be malnourished. If you are paid to do a full-time job, your boss won’t be pleased if you only show up to work one hour a week. An NFL football player can’t skip practice all week and expect to be in the starting lineup on Sunday afternoon.
Christians gather for an hour or two on Sunday, but there are 168 hours in a week. The other 167 hours matter just as much as the time we spend together at church. In Isaiah’s day, God rebuked his people for bringing pointless sacrifices, “meaningless offerings,” and perfunctory prayers (Isaiah 1:10-15). They had reduced worship to a series of empty rituals. Their faith in God lacked sincerity and depth, and their treatment of others lacked compassion and justice.
They should have been reading their guidebook for worship, the book of Psalms. It’s appropriate that the Hebrews’ book of praise occupies the physical center of the Bible and contains more chapters and verses than any other biblical book, for worship should be at the center of our lives. The first Psalm opens with a reminder that worship is a lifestyle, not a ritual. “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night” (Psalm 1:1, 2). The goal is to stay in touch with God “day and night,” all 168 hours of the week.
At the other end of the book, Psalm 150 addresses the where, why, how, and who of worship. It starts with the positive exhortation,“Praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:1), for only the true God deserves our praise.
Worship—Where? “Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens” (v. 1). Anywhere we go can be a sanctuary, a holy place filled with a touch of Heaven itself.
Worship—Why? Because of who God is and what he has done. “Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness” (v. 2). In worship we acknowledge God’s mighty deeds and his flawless character.
Worship—How? With every tool at our disposal! Psalm 150 encourages praising God with various musical instruments: trumpet, harp, lyre, timbrel, strings, pipe, and cymbals (vv. 3-5). The point isn’t merely to make a lot of noise. The goal is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Praise in our hearts must find outward expression in our words and deeds. Worship isn’t merely a ritual, it’s a lifestyle. Just as breathing is natural to a living body, worship flows continually from a soul that’s alive in Christ. Twenty-four hours a day we breathe in God’s grace and exhale his praise while we work, rest, eat, travel, play, study, and pray.
Worship—Who? “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (v. 6).
When we praise God during the other 167 hours of the week, church attendance won’t be a burden but a blessing. Gathering with God’s people on Sunday becomes a time to encourage one another, commune with the Lord, and refuel our souls so we can serve him effectively the rest of the week.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Lesson based on The Lookout’s Scope and Sequence ©2018. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.