Emily Plummer outlines how she approaches worship and what we can do to become true worshippers of Jesus
What is your earliest memory of worship and what was it like?
When I was young, I attended a church full of amazingly joyful and loving people. They lived lives of worship because of the love that they had for God, and it honestly confused me. Because, on the surface, these were people who often had a lot of need, including ill health, and I wondered how in spite of that, they worshipped a God that they declared was still good! In every emotion and every situation that they faced, their worship was just as joyful. I was only five or six years old when I began to question who this Jesus was and how he could make them so happy.
What makes a worshipper of God?
Someone who tries to see the bigger picture. No one lives a perfect life but the direction of who we want to become is a question that we can ask ourselves each day. It reveals what our heart is seeking. Are we striving to be the provider, the one holding it all together, the one with all the answers, the one in control? We have a great habit of carrying a lot of heavy loads ourselves, most of which we’re not made to carry alone or even all together. A worshipper of God is someone who sees God’s character, heart and grace because they actively choose to give everything to him – every emotion and situation, however small. The greatest commandment is to ‘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 12:30). Someone who worships God is a loved individual, receiving more than they give and humbly receiving God’s grace. In exchange for our broken and unreliable attempts to make everything well and secure, he gives us his fullness.
How do you worship, is there a pattern you follow?
Worship is not solely about songs, music, Sunday services or great albums. Yes those things can encourage and strengthen us. However, if we rely on those small portions of our week to worship God and do not seek his presence throughout, then we are missing what he is doing the rest of the time. Sunday is my response to God’s presence in my life throughout that week and a hunger for even more for next week. Sometimes it’s the case that I need to spend some time speaking to God about how I am doing and then allow that to fuel my worship: am I wanting to thank God, cry out to him? Am I feeling scared, wanting to celebrate, needing to receive or simply listen? It comes back to giving God every emotion and situation. I do the same in my room on my own, or taking time to intercede. I often find that the times that I have made this a clear focus in my week, then when I come to lead worship or sing from the congregation, God has given me a new song to respond to what he has done.
‘A worshipper of God is someone who sees God’s character, heart and grace because they actively choose to give everything to him’
What time/incident in your life do you remember when prayer was most important to you?
My current prayer is simply: Lord, teach me to pray, and in praying this, God has highlighted to me that my most ‘effective’ and memorable prayers have been my most vulnerable and heartfelt. They didn’t use fancy or impressive words. They came from a deep longing and heartache to feel God. When I was 10 my best friend was killed in a car accident and my prayer was simply, ‘If you’re there God, then speak to me’. I threw my Bible open on my bed and it opened to the story of the raising of Lazarus (John 11). I quickly realised that Jesus’ friend had died too and although I found it hard to comprehend what had happened, the thing that I was sure of was that Jesus understood me and in the face of a horrible situation, I felt a deep peace.
What scriptures talk to you and how do they speak to you in terms of both worship and prayer?
Romans 12 is an amazing passage with so much to say on what our worship of God looks like in everyday life. I cannot begin to explore the depth of wisdom that it provides me in so many ways. If we were made to worship God, then this passage shows me what my underlying purpose in every season and circumstance is.
What, in your opinion, can the church do to make us better worshippers/prayers?
This is as much a struggle for those who work for the church as for those who attend. Being in church ministry does not give you special abilities to worship and pray. The entire congregation needs to stay teachable to who God is. The more we are open to allowing God into our lives, the more he can show us. We were designed to worship God and live in relationship and so we find more freedom as we do this. Hebrews 10:25 reminds us to never stop meeting together, encouraging one another as his kingdom breaks in ever more. Worship reminds me of the permission that God gives me to be transformed by his kingdom, not conform to the cultures around me.