Whole-Hearted Worship

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:29-30). When Jesus identifies this great commandment, he sets worship at the center of human life. Worship, as full-hearted love of God, is meant to permeate our lives. Private or public, it is always first and foremost a matter of the heart.

We cannot realize the richness and vitality of worship until we comprehend the meaning of heart in the Judeo-Christian tradition. In Western culture, head and heart describe separate spheres. Head signifies our rational, analytic functions while heart represents our feeling capacities. But a purely emotional heart does not express its scriptural significance.

In the Jewish tradition, the heart is the seat and center of the whole person, the core of personal character, including the thought, emotion, will, intuition, and imagination. Thoughts, both good and evil, arise from the heart. When the heart is turned toward God, one is filled with grace and truth; when the heart turns away, a person dwells in delusion. The Christian church inherited this understanding of “heart” from the Jewish tradition.

True worship from the heart, then, means responding to God’s glory and love with our entire being. After all, when Spirit touches spirit, we are moved–both in feelings and commitments. Too many worshipping communities encourage only half-hearted worship. In churches that tend toward reason and order, many members yearn to express the intuitive and feeling side of faith. In churches where intellect is considered a poor cousin to emotional experiences of faith, many people are hungry for serious study and responsible action.”

–Marjorie Thompson in Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life, pp. 58-59.

A Prayer for Sunday

God our Father,

Fearfully and wonderfully You created us.
We are creatures.
We are complex creatures.
We are Your creatures.

You created us with the ability to think and reason.
Thank You, God.
You created us with the ability to sense and feel.
Thank You, God.

Sometimes we turn off our brains and cease all thinking.
Forgive us, God.
Sometimes we will ourselves to stop expressions of emotion.
Forgive us, God.

Help us realize that worship that fails to include both thought and emotion is, at best, half-hearted.

As we gather Sunday we do so to worship whole-heartedly.
We offer You our minds.
We offer you our emotions.
We offer You our all.

Forgive us when we approach You with anything less than our all.
May we bring it all to You Sunday.
For You are worthy.

In Jesus’ name,

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