Worship can be an exhilarating experience. It can be exciting and inspiring. Yet, worship is not always as experiential as we may desire. Worship is much deeper than feelings. It is normal for believers to not feel like worshiping at times. It is also normal for believers to struggle to connect to God during worship. A lack of feelings can cause frustration or hurt within a believer, but it is important to note that this lack of feelings does not have to dominate your life or worship.
So how do we worship with confidence when we just don’t feel like it? Worshiping with confidence when you don’t feel like it is possible. Looking at underlying issues and causes may help you understand why you aren’t connecting. Furthermore, uncovering lies with truth can set you free. Worshiping with confidence comes from faith and trust in God and other practical steps. And remember, we worship based on who God is, not based on what we are feeling.
Based on research, Biblical teachings, and personal experience, I will explain some of the reasons we often fail to connect during worship and what we can do about it.
Why We Sometimes Don’t Want to Worship and What it Says About Us
We sometimes feel disconnected from worship for a variety of reasons. At times, we simply cannot connect during a time of worship. During other times, we lack even the desire or motivation to connect in worship. It is important to note that our feelings do not determine our reality or our standing with the Lord. Feelings are fickle and can be affected by the smallest things.
A feeling of distance does not indicate that there is an actual distance. In fact, numerous heroes of the faith lived lives that were faithfully devoted to the Lord that were also characterized by times of fear, anxiety, and depression. These heroes also felt forsaken at the time, although God never left them.
The circumstances of life, such as stress, trauma, business, lack of sleep, overwhelming responsibility, health issues, doubt, and confusion are only some of the reasons we may feel disconnected. We may not even realize that these things are part of the issue. However, all of these things have a significant impact on all areas of our lives. It is important to understand that our spiritual lives can be affected by the other parts of our being if we do not have a clear understanding.
Responding to This Feeling
The truth is, we will not always understand the reason we fail to connect with the Lord during a specific season of life. Despite this, it is healthy and important that we constantly search our hearts for any impurity that may reside within them. This impurity may be personal sin, or simply the consequences of living in a sinful world.
Through it all, we should remember that Jesus is constantly providing intercession for us (Romans 8:34). We also have the Advocate, The Holy Spirit working on our behalf. God is on our side through this. If we are covered by the blood of Jesus through faith, we can be confident that God is for us and that He is not storing up wrath for us. Rather, He is quick to forgive if we confess (1 John 1:9). Additionally, we can cast any anxiety upon Him (1 Peter 5:7).
Common Lies We Believe
- The fact that I don’t always want to worship indicates that I’m not truly saved.
- My struggles separate me from God.
- God has forsaken me.
- I cannot connect because I am unworthy.
- I cannot approach God because I am too sinful.
The Truth that Sets Us Free
- We are saved solely through grace and by faith. We are not saved by any works. Whether or not we struggle to worship cannot take away the gift that God has given. Ephesians 2:8-9 gives us confidence. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works so that no one can boast.” We cannot lose our salvation simply because of the way we feel during worship.
- Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Romans 8:35,37-39 declares, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- God promises not to leave nor forsake us. This is stated in the Old Testament and then reiterated in the New Testament. Deuteronomy 31:6 states, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 also says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
- God calls us His children. Romans 8:14 explains, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” Additionally, 1 John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
- No sin is too great for God. God forgives all sins if we confess. 1 John 1:9 states, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Furthermore, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, Romans 8:1.
Instead of denying the underlying issue, or becoming fakely involved in worship, search your heart. Ask the Lord to reveal what is within your heart. Don’t deny what you are feeling. Don’t push it aside and continue on as if everything is perfectly fine. Because at that moment, everything is not perfectly fine.
If you choose to ignore what you are facing, you are only lying to yourself and to God. Use this opportunity to press in a little deeper, even if it’s painful. Don’t quit because you are discouraged. Take a deep breath and rest in the fact that God is still holding you, even in the midst of this struggle.
Do a little searching and see if you can identify issues that haven’t been brought to the Lord. This requires you to really go deep into those areas that are the most painful. Meaning, search yourself for memories, hardships, experiences, and thoughts that have shaped your life. Scan as much as you can remember from your childhood up until your current moment.
Essentially, open up all the closed doors within the home of your heart. Let the light shine into the darkest places. We all have those things that we want to keep a secret from other people, from God, and even from ourselves. We cannot be fully healed if we do not let God into those areas. Letting go isn’t merely deciding that something won’t have power over us anymore. Letting go is better described as fully surrendering to God, allowing Him to work and minister in any way He wants.
Can Sin Interrupt Worship?
The effects of sin are greater than we often realize. Sin takes a toll on this world and the people within it. It can destroy the person that is sinning and the people on the other side of the sin. But how much can sin affect our own personal worship? How does sin affect born again believers? Let’s uncover that a little further. For born again believers, there tend to be two extreme responses when it comes to sin. People tend to respond with either extreme shame or with barely any remorse at all.
Scripture makes it clear that God is highly against sin, yet, the cross of Jesus makes it evident that God’s desire is not for humans to be forever condemned and held back by sin. God wants His people to walk in holiness and purity, yet He offers grace and mercy during times of weakness and sin (1 John 2:1-2). The desire of God for His people is complete freedom and transformation from death into life.
The Effect of Sin
Unconfessed sin can cause a believer to feel turmoil or unrest. King David expresses his own struggle due to sin in his life. Psalm 32:3-5 states, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night, your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
Search your heart and ask the Lord to search your heart as well for anything that needs to be confessed. Be humble and willing to confess any sin that the Lord reveals. Additionally, be willing to make any changes in your life that are needed. Holding on to sin can bring pain into your life. Desiring sin over God can also hinder you from connecting to God in worship. Ask the Lord to give you a stronger desire for Him. Furthermore, ask the Lord to help you leave your sinful habits and desires behind you.
Condemnation Keeps Us Stuck
Another effect of sin is the condemnation that often follows it. Condemnation is not from God as was referenced earlier. In fact, condemnation comes from the accuser of the brethren, Satan himself. Satan uses condemnation from sin as a way to keep believers in chains.
If the enemy can get believers to fall for condemnation, he can keep them from confidently approaching the Father for grace. It is grace that empowers us to overcome sin. The ultimate purpose of condemnation is to speak lies that create chains that are difficult to break. Condemnation can hinder believers from entering in worship. Since it creates a level of shame it convinces a believer that he or she cannot or should not approach God.
This mentally creates a gap between God and the believer that is based upon a lie, rather than the truth of God’s scriptures. If you have sin in your life that you have genuinely confessed, God is faithful to forgive you. You don’t have to live in condemnation, instead, you can confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and grace in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
Responding to Condemnation
If this description resonates with you, condemnation may be the reason you are struggling to connect with God during worship. When faced with condemnation, it is important to focus on the scriptures that express your freedom from it, such as the scriptures listed earlier. Furthermore, it is helpful to set up boundaries that will keep you from falling into that particular sin again.
If you feel condemnation from a sin that you fall into regularly, be intentional and adamant about self-control. Contact a reliable believer to help hold you accountable. Additionally, remove the stumbling blocks from your life. Overcoming condemnation may be a timely process. Yet, it is possible to overcome and become victorious over the power of sin and the condemnation that the enemy brings.
Causes Apart from Sin
What if there is no unconfessed sin in your life? What if you have already confessed the hidden things and you still feel like you cannot connect with the Lord? Sin is not the only reason that an individual may not feel like worshiping. This feeling of disconnect may not be due to anything that a believer has done. To the best of his or her knowledge, the believer is right with the Lord and is in passionate pursuit of the Lord. If there is no known sin or underlying issues there may be another reason.
It can be seen in the scriptures that believers face difficult things that are not due to disobedience or sin. In fact, some believers have faced some of their greatest struggles when they were living in obedience. Take Job for example. He was walking in righteousness and had no evident reason for the catastrophe in his life. The enemy stole all that Job had: his riches, family, friends, and health. However, it is important to notice that the Lord restored all that Job had even more abundantly.
Furthermore, we see from Jesus’ own life, that the Spirit led Him into the wilderness to be tested. Jesus was faced against the accusations and temptations of the enemy. In our own lives, we may be facing a temptation that causes us to disconnect. Or, we may simply be in a wilderness season of life.
During the wilderness, God is still present but we do not always feel Him. You may be going through a wilderness season that is causing you to feel like God is distant. However, keep in mind that God is still present. Additionally, remember that God can use anything in your life for good, even a season in the wilderness.
The Process of Promise
There is no formula to discover why you sometimes don’t connect in worship. There are helpful things to keep in mind, however, there is not always an easy fix. You could be doing “everything right” and still feel disconnected. This still cannot separate you from God. We don’t always see the process that we are in. It is easy when we read the Bible to see all the ways God was working within an individual’s life. We can see God’s plan and hand throughout all of scripture to use all the bad for His glory and the good of His people. Yet, we don’t have a book about our lives that clearly states these things.
There may come a point in your life where you must simply rest and trust in the fact that God is moving in your life even when you can’t see it or feel it. If you could read between the lines of the scripture, you would realize the hardship that the heroes of the faith faced. At times we have misjudged their lives. We see how strongly God worked in their lives, yet, we fail to realize the process that their lives took. Many promises that God spoke took years to come to pass.
These years weren’t merely a few years. Often times they were over ten, twenty, or more years. Your life may simply be another example of God’s faithfulness that encompasses a lifetime. As humans, we are not patient. We want results instantly. However, if we can learn anything from the people in the scriptures, it is the fact that things happen in the perfect timing of God, not our own rushed timing.
Practical Steps to Take
I recommend that you look deeply within your life and within your relationship with the Lord. I believe that it is important to understand the deeper things of our lives, whether they are physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. However, I also believe in the power of practicality. We may not always have the time to go as deep within a certain moment. Practical steps can help restore your peace and renew your faith in the hardest of times.
Is it Wrong to Worship When You Aren’t Feeling It?
Before I explain these practical steps I want to address one issue. It is not wrong to worship if you are not feeling it. Your worship should not be fake, as expressed in Matthew 15:7-9. Jesus addresses the hypocrisy of honoring God with your lips when your heart is far from Him. We should not be hypocritical in worship.
We can be honest in worship. Psalm 42:5 says, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” The psalmist understood the reality of his soul. Despite this, he chose to praise God.
Faith Over Feelings
The basis of Christianity is faith. At times, our walk simply comes down to this concept of faith. Faith is the belief in what is not seen. It is also the belief in what is not felt. When you are facing a time of worship that you are struggling to connect to, rely on faith. Faith will allow you to worship even despite the lack of feelings. Remind yourself of all the ways that God has worked within your life.
Build your faith by recalling the ways God has been faithful. Keep a prayer journal with answered prayers and look back at it frequently. In addition, ask other believers to share their stories of faith. Read the passages of scripture that focus upon faith. All of these will help you build your faith and persevere when you don’t feel like it.
Another practical step is to remain hopeful and patient. Isaiah 40:30-31 states, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Furthermore, wait upon the Lord. Psalm 27:14 declares, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Sometimes all you can do is trust and wait for the Lord to move and change your situation. If you can grow in trust and hope, you can confidently worship, knowing that God is so much greater than your feelings.
Worship With Confidence
If you put your confidence within your self, it will fail. If you put your confidence in other people, they will fail you. The only infallible place to put your confidence is within the Lord. He is the only one that will never fail. He may work in ways that you struggle to understand. His ways may be different than you desire, but His ways are good. He has proven Himself faithful throughout the scriptures and within the lives of believers.
Worshiping with confidence is only possible if you can focus on the characteristics of the Lord. Remember who He says He is and what He has done. Look deep within your life, but look even deeper into who God is. True confidence comes not from feelings or oneself. It comes from the ultimate source, the Lord.