True Confessions of a Distracted Worshiper

Have you ever found yourself in a place where you struggle to enter into authentic worship? I know that I have. Over the past few years, I’ve been wondering what is missing from my worship experience. I’ve discovered a new way to approach worship, and I can’t wait to share the missing piece of the puzzle with you.

Have you ever found yourself in a place where you struggle to enter into authentic worship?

I know that I have.

Over the past few years, I’ve been wondering what is missing from my worship experience.

I still love the Lord.

I’m still grateful for His sacrifice upon the cross.

Yet, when I enter the corporate worship experience my  mind easily wanders and I struggle to engage.

 

I’m going through all of the appropriate movements, yet there is something missing deep in my soul.

 

I adore my worship pastor and can find no fault with the song choices or the environment for worship provided at my local church.

Even if I could find fault, it would be a mistake to blame anyone but myself for a lackluster worship experience.

 

 

As I searched for the source of my worship problem, my mind wandered back to the most vibrant worship experiences I’ve ever participated in.

At the top of the list was the raw and unadulterated worship I experienced when I was 19 years old and serving God as a missionary with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Australia.

Our group took an extended camping trip during our training (DTS) to spend endless days in the raw beauty of the Australian Outback learning about and worshiping God.

It was spontaneous worship surrounded by desperate beauty and an authentic desire to meet with God.

It was uninhibited by the traditional concerns of what others may think, as each individual was so focused on the gift of the cross, that we lost sight of everything but His glory and majesty.

No singular worship experience before or since has brought me closer to my Savior.

Have you ever found yourself in a place where you struggle to enter into authentic worship? I know that I have. Over the past few years, I’ve been wondering what is missing from my worship experience. I’ve discovered a new way to approach worship, and I can’t wait to share the missing piece of the puzzle with you.

I sometimes think that experience forever ruined me for the ordinary, run of the mill, Sunday worship service.

 

Wait…did I just say tht out loud???

That one magnificent worship experience has the power to detract from every subsequent experience?

Well, that is a ridiculous thought!

Yet, dear friend, I have allowed it to creep into my mind far too often.

I have used it as an excuse not to dig deeper, not to search for another reason my heart is failing to engage in authentic worship.

And I know that I am not alone in this.

How many of us Christians have a powerful worship experience that casts a shadow over every other?

 

I would venture to guess that most of you have a similar tale to tell.

 

Just like we all can easily remember the feelings we had when we fell in love for the first time.

They were powerful and transformative, yet they were so fleeting.

Like an explosion in your heart that lifted you so high off the ground you’ve been falling ever since.

I know that I will never be able to recreate that “falling in love” experience with my earthly husband, so why do I expect any different with my heavenly Husband?

Love matures over time and becomes something deeper and even more beautiful, but this mature love will never toy with your emotions or cause your heart to soar like young love.

Love is a selfless commitment to enduring relationship.

And so is authentic worship.

 

 

I have recently discovered the secret to creating a lifestyle of worship, and I have to admit that I was not prepared for this discovery.

I had nearly given up on the possibility of experiencing authentic worship again.

 

I was committed to the process of worship, yet it was shallow and rigid, a forced act of an obedient servant.

 

Have you ever found yourself in a place where you struggle to enter into authentic worship? I know that I have. Over the past few years, I’ve been wondering what is missing from my worship experience. I’ve discovered a new way to approach worship, and I can’t wait to share the missing piece of the puzzle with you.

Sort of like a coffee date with a person you used to like but just don’t feel a connection with anymore.

You do your best to engage in conversation with them but you are grateful when the time is up and your obligation is satisfied.

 

What a terrible confession?!?

 

But that is the perfect illustration to illuminate my truest feelings about my own personal worship experiences over the past few years.

And I can openly share that with you today because I can confidently say that I am no longer in that place.

I’ve discovered a new way to approach worship, and I can’t wait to share the missing piece of the puzzle with you.

 

 

But first, I want you to think of one person in your life that you just LOVE to go out to coffee with.

Someone who you so enjoy connecting with, that you are always slightly sad when your time is up.

A person that makes you feel loved and cherished, who brings out the very best in you.

 

Ok, do you have a person in mind? GREAT!

 

Stop reading and grab a sheet of paper. Take a moment to write down WHY you enjoy this person so much.

Don’t rush this, I’ll wait…

…are you done yet?

…no?

…ok, I’m no very good at waiting, so I’ll just continue on and you join me when you are ready…

Have you ever found yourself in a place where you struggle to enter into authentic worship? I know that I have. Over the past few years, I’ve been wondering what is missing from my worship experience. I’ve discovered a new way to approach worship, and I can’t wait to share the missing piece of the puzzle with you.

My person is Sammi Ricke, my best friend.

I love going to coffee with her because she accepts me for who I am, she wants the best for me, and she is truly interested in what is going on in my life.

Our conversation is always well balanced as we take turns listening, asking questions, and sharing our thoughts with one another.

Giving and receiving, talking and listening.

Our relationship is a two-way street, a commitment to authentic communication, a safe haven in a perilous world.

My guess is that your list and mine overlap a bit because the best relationships include two equally engaged parties.

Have you ever gone to coffee with someone who only wanted to talk about themselves?

Not much fun, is it?

When I was struggling to enter into worship, it is because I was focusing on myself and what I needed from the relationship.

 

I was still talking with God on a regular basis, because talking is my specialty. But, my dear sweet friend, I was not taking time to listen to Him.

I was a terrible coffee date because I was dominating the conversation.

As a result, I was failing to experience all of the depth and beauty that comes from a balanced relationship.

 

I had made worship all about me, all about my needs, all about my feelings.

 

I was self-focused and therefore self-sabotaging the very most important relationship in my life.

Have you ever found yourself in a place where you struggle to enter into authentic worship? I know that I have. Over the past few years, I’ve been wondering what is missing from my worship experience. I’ve discovered a new way to approach worship, and I can’t wait to share the missing piece of the puzzle with you. Christian | Woman | Encouragement | Prayer | Bible | Hope | Truth | Verses | Women Inspired | Faith | Powerful | Inspirational and encouraging words faith

Finding my way back to a lifestyle of authentic worship has been a slow process and it has required me laying aside thoughts of myself and focusing my attention on who God is.

 

Authentic worship is not about us, it is about God and how incredibly worthy He is of our praises.

 

If you are missing “that loving feeling” in your worship experience, I encourage you to search your heart and ask God to reveal any selfishness hiding there.

 

 

I’ve only recently begun this practice, and it has unlocked my heart and allowed me to rediscover authentic worship.

The songs are the same, the environment is the same, yet I am changed.

I am fully engaged in the process that I lose track of time and forget myself completely.

 

Oh, how wonderful it is to forget yourself and focus your heart on the majesty of the Creator of all things.

 

I’ve found my way back home, back to a lifestyle of authentic worship…and I’m praying that my words have encouraged you to do the same.

Don’t delay…He’s patiently waiting for you!

 

Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD! Psalm 150 ESV

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This article has been shared at many of my favorite linkups.

Sarah Koontz

About Sarah Koontz

  Sarah Koontz invites Christians of all ages to explore the beauty of God’s design. She is a passionate storyteller who enjoys using illustrations to communicate deep spiritual truths. Sarah lives on 13-acres in South Dakota with her husband, two daughters and a rowdy flock of 30 chickens. She revels in their simple, uncluttered life. Follow Sarah on FacebookInstagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Read Sarah's full Bio Here.

41 thoughts on “True Confessions of a Distracted Worshiper

  1. Thanks, Sarah, for these cautionary words. We do have a consumer mentality when it comes to . . . pretty much everything, but it’s especially ridiculous when we worship God. I especially appreciate your words of honesty!

    1. Good Morning, Michelle. You are so right about that consumer mentality. I worry about the younger generations. Here’s to trusting God’s faithful direction in our lives towards a lifestyle that is honoring to Him, regardless of the culture we are surrounded by.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story Sarah. Too many times I’ve focused on myself instead of God and my relationship with Him suffers because of it. We have to focus on Him because He is the One worthy of our praises. God Bless!

    1. I am always encouraging my children to focus on the needs of others rather than their own selfish desires. Whenever selfishness arises in our lives, discontentment is not far behind. The only way to combat this is by focusing on the one who satisfies completely! He is so worthy….

  3. Sarah, I am singing the same song! My reflections on worship this week led me to the same conclusion. My worship turns into “me, me, ME!” The enemy is NOT creative. He uses the same tricks and schemes on all of us. We can see that his tactic to destract us in worsip is to get our focus off our great God and onto ourselves. Now that we have identified his tricks, we are prepared to worship distraction-free. I am so glad I found you on #livefree Thursday today!

    1. You are so right, Kelly! The enemy is NOT creative, not one bit. Your comment is a great addition to what Michelle said above because I think the consumer mentality of our country has deeply impacted our ability to worship God without focusing on “what’s in it for me?” I’m sure that’s a strategy of the evil one too. Looking forward to hopping on over to your blog and checking out your #livefree Thursday post.

  4. Lovely, I couldn’t wait to read the rest of it…thank goodness is on one post….phew!
    I could relate to this totally.
    Thanks for today’s peaceful devotional.
    God Bless

    1. Ifeoma,

      It’s a long post, so I am glad to know I didn’t lose you somewhere in the middle. Thank you for your kind words, isn’t it nice to know that we aren’t alone in our struggles?

  5. I love this Sarah! This is something I have noticed in myself as well. Usually there comes a point, where I am asking God, “Why am I not hearing you anymore?” The revelation I usually get is that I am too busy telling Him about my needs, my insecurities or my frustrations. Yet, I’m not actually listening for a response. It can become more like a complaining session than a dialogue. Worship is one of my favorite things to do. But I agree that it can get stale when it becomes about us. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Sarah,
    I wish I could reach through this computer screen and give you a great big hug! Because, this has spoken to me!!! I wrote out my one friend that I just *love* having coffee with, and oh, how that spoke to my heart about worship. I see myself all throughout this post. Needless to say, I’m going to marinating over your words for a while. Thank you, sister! Thank you a million times over! 🙂 🙂

    1. Leigh, your comment was such a blessing to me when I read it a few days ago. I’ve been meaning to write back ever since and say thank you because I almost removed that illustration/exercise from the article. I was worried the piece was too long and almost cut it. But I am SO GLAD I DIDN’T! P.S. I love virtual hugs.

  7. Oh wow, Sarah! I loved this . . . “Love is a selfless commitment to enduring relationship. And so is authentic worship.” You have so many great points here. I can be a distracted worshipper too. I can’t wait to share this everywhere this morning! Blessings and hugs!

    1. Deb, thank you for your enthusiasm and your shares. I sincerely appreciate your help in getting this message out. I am so grateful I’ve made a bit of progress in my own worship experience lately but I’m definitely a work in progress. Happy to know my story is encouraging others.

  8. This was once me (but for a very short period of time), and I’m even on the worship team!!
    My confession: When I wasn’t on the “platform” it became about trying to read the expressions on the leader’s faces and their body language!
    I quickly had to shake that spirit of contempt off!! I had to do my own time of private heart cleansing with God! If I can’t bring Him pure worship, then my praise wouldn’t be a sacrifice!
    During the week its a process that I LOVE because when I walk into the doors of my beloved church, I can lay it all out in the open!

    1. Confession is good for the soul, isn’t it, Kela? I’m proud of you, sister! It hurts to put words to our ugly, but that’s the only way to be transformed. It is so tempting to become most critical in the areas we are gifted in, I struggle with the same thing. Whenever our focus is anywhere but on God, we are definitely going to struggle. Thank you for stopping by and sharing a piece of your story with us.

  9. Thank you for this. Years ago, I was brought to the understanding that worship has nothing to do with me trying to do something for God. It was rather God feeding me so that I could be sustained for the every day struggles of this world and I need to listen to His Word in order to be fed. Your analogy of the coffee date is so fabulous and if I’m trying to always interrupt with my thoughts on a topic and not listen – what a horrible friend! I’ve done that to people and to God. Thank you!

    1. Nikol, I am glad to know the coffee date analogy spoke to your heart. I was tempted to pull it out and shorten the article, but it just made so much sense to me…I couldn’t do it. I love how you say that worship is God feeding you and sustaining you. Since I have had my mini-breakthrough, I have experienced that. I am more equipped for the struggles of life when I have entered authentic worship. Thank you for stopping by and joining in the conversation, it means the world to me!

  10. Ooh, Sarah! Thank you for this. It came at such a timely moment. And absolutely convicting. God bless you and may He continue using you for His glory.

    1. Husna, thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and leave a comment. I love getting to know my readers and watching a blog post turn into a conversation. Writing this post was totally convicting for me too, so it’s nice to know I’m in good company.

  11. Ouch. I suffer from distracted worship and quietly (in my mind) criticizing the pastor, the music and the formal routine. I needed the attitude adjustment. Thank you.

    1. It’s so much easier to criticize others than it is to deal with our own heart issues, isn’t it Anita. That’s my tendency too! I’m so glad you took the time to swing by and be encouraged today. I think there are many of us Distracted Worshipers entering church every Sunday and the best thing we can do is support and encourage one another to focus our hearts on what truly matters.

  12. Sarah,
    Thank you for sharing so openly and honestly…know you are not alone. Sometimes I believe God gives us those awesome mountain top worship experiences so that we can go back down into the valley knowing there is something beyond the eveydayness that we see. I also think you hit the nail on the head about listening. When I only use God to listen to my list of requests and problems there’s not much interaction…it truly is a two way street. I think your final scripture is also very poignant – Praise Him…I mean REALLY PRAISE HIM. When I infuse my worship (be it in church or my kitchen) I find God takes me to a new level when I begin with Praise and Gratitude. Loved this post…
    Blessings,
    Bev

    1. “Something beyond the eveydayness that we see.” I love that, Bev! You are so right about the faith building properties of mountaintop experiences. It does sustain us, so long as we don’t mistakenly use it as the measure by which we gage all other experiences. I like praising God in my kitchen too, and always turn on worship music when my day is headed south (or my mom temper is rising).

      That verse at the end, it was so powerful, wasn’t it? It was like I was seeing it with new eyes when I added it to the post. Love you.

  13. I know how easy it is to get distracted when worshiping corporately. Many times, I have to close my eyes to remove the distractions of looking at others and the thoughts of wondering what they think of me. It does help. But simply being with Him in my alone time, when I listen to worship music or pour my heart out to Him, has been a wonderful communion with the Lord.

    There are no distractions alone with Him.

  14. Wow. This is so powerful. Why is it so easy to make worship (or anything in life, for that matter) about us instead of Him? He should really be the only reason I do anything. Especially worshiping Him. It’s not about what I can get out of it, it’s about giving myself to Him. Thank you so much for this reminder today!

    1. I believe that selfishness was the original sin. I mean, why else would Eve want to be like God? I struggle with the urge to focus on myself each and every day, so why would my personal challenges with worship be any different. That said, it is a lovely and freeing experience to leave yourself at the door of the church and enter into a place where it’s all about Him. Now that I’ve tasted it, I hope I fight to stay there. Thanks for adding your thoughts to the conversation. Blessings to you.

  15. That listening (on my part) aspect of my relationship with God is missing far too often. My mind wanders. What you have written here, I can relate to so well. I will try to think of my worship experience like a good coffee date. Thank you for this encouragement and thank you for linking with Grace and Truth last week!

  16. super post, sarah! (seeds for a book?!) I’m so identifying with you -my mentor (and fav coffee friend) just gave me The Listening Life! (hint I think) Blessings on all you do and drinking coffee in spirit w/ you in CA

    1. Hi, Sue. Thanks for stopping by and joining in the conversation. Is it appropriate to say that every word I write is seeds for a book? Or pre-seeds 😉 LOL! I will check out that book you mentioned, I love the title.

  17. Hi Sarah, I’m glad I stopped by today to meet you! (I’m visiting from Coffee & Conversation) As a worship leader myself, this really spoke to my heart, and I loved your analogy of coffee with a dearly loved friend. Over the past few months, I’ve noticed that when I’m not really engaged in worship, it’s because I’m thinking about something like how I’d do the song differently if I was leading, or how this song isn’t my favorite, or any number of other things that are about me and not about Jesus. Sort of like constantly looking at my iPhone when I’m out for coffee with my dearest friend. Oops.

    1. Kym, I am so happy to know you enjoyed my piece on the distracted worshiper. I can imagine how easily it is to become distracted by all of the pieces of the puzzle when you are a worship leader. It almost makes me think one would need to carve out time to worship God alone each week so you were free to be just a bit distracted by the details of producing a meaningful worship service for your congregation. It’s a difficult balance to strike, I would imagine. Thanks for adding your thoughts to our conversation. Blessings to you in your ministry!

  18. Oh Sarah, this is such an important read… wow. You’ve put into words exactly what happens in our hearts when our worship approach is off-kilter… and usually I don’t even notice until much later that my conversation with Him was ringing hollow, no wonder there’s a missed connection with Him.
    Cannot tell you how valuable this is to me right now. Thank you!
    Popping by from #IntentionalTuesday 😉

    1. Christine, you are so right about the delayed consequences of ineffective worship. It has ripple effects throughout our life and our relationship with Jesus, but it is sometimes difficult to link the two. I’m so grateful you stopped by today and I’m excited about what God is about to do in your worship life.

  19. I can only build upon what others have already said. This is a beautiful reminder. I recently changed churches for the sake of my family and the worship atmosphere is different than the atmosphere in which I grew up. I have felt disconnected somewhat although the experience is just as beautiful. I must redirect my focus. Love it!

    1. Brittany, I’m so glad you took the time to visit my place yesterday. This article on worship really changed me. It’s amazing how powerful a shift in perspective can be. That said, our worship pastor was on sabbatical this summer…and I truly did miss the comfort of His style and routine. It’s funny how we are such creatures of habit, we don’t even realize it at times! Praying that God meets you in worship this week.

  20. My most authentic praise usually happens in my bathroom of all places – when I’m putting on my makeup and listening to my favorite Christian/worship music. 🙂 It can get tricky sometimes, though, when my eyes fill with tears and I’m right in the middle of lining my eyes or enhancing my lashes with mascara.

    1. So true, Brandi! Mine is when I’m doing dishes. Thankful for my Pandora Praise station. No makeup mishaps over a sink of dirty dishes (just sayin….)

  21. I am the distracted worshipper – blessed to come across this blog this evening. I lost my beloved husband to melanoma and I can’t find my way back into my prayer life. The emptiness has overcome my heart. Tom was 52. I believe I was meant to find your words. I will begin to declutter my heart Sarah! Thank you for your words straight to my heart as this has been a sad evening for me. Be blessed!

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