3 Tips for Private Worship
This may sound strange, but Sunday mornings when I drive alone to church are some of my favorite times. It is not that I don’t love my family. I always value time with my family and often my wife and I get to have more pointed, intentional conversation when we are in the car together because our kids are strapped down in car seats. Sunday mornings can be hectic at our house if we’re not careful.
Sunday mornings when I am alone in my car I get to do something I rarely get to do. I worship out loud. As I drive I will talk audibly to the Lord about my family, about the church service I’m about to engage in, and about the ministry that will happen. Then I will typically put on a worship song or two and sing out loud. This time really refreshes my soul.
In church life, we talk a lot about public worship. We sing songs corporately, pray together, and hear the Word read and proclaimed. We need this. It’s good for our souls. Many cultures are much more corporate than ours. In America, we think very individually and can be a private people.
One thing we don’t often talk about however is private worship. We can tend to think singing is for the corporate setting only. We may never consider reading Scripture out loud by ourselves. These things are not just something you should consider though; you should do them on occasion. Here are three tips I want to offer for practicing private worship.
Sing and Sing Loud
God desires our worship through song. The Bible gives us many examples of people singing in the worship of God. Songs were sung both corporately and individually. Singing in a posture of worship isn’t just for the church service. It’s for your family. It’s for you by yourself. God draws close to His people through song.
He has given us a whole book of just songs (Psalms). People sang songs of lament, thanks, requests, and magnification. David wrote many of the Psalms and they were His songs that He sung to the Lord often privately. The beauty of singing is that God has designed worship through song in such a way that He seems so near when we praise Him this way.
I love singing by myself because I can sing loud—to the top of my lungs even—and I don’t have to worry about what anyone thinks about my voice (I’m not a good singer). I can privately pour myself out to the Lord. Singing privately often leads me to tears that lead me to prayer. Whether good or bad, I feel a freedom in song privately that I don’t feel corporately.
Read Out Loud
God’s word is powerful. The Bible itself tells us that. We need to be in the Word daily. It refreshes, convicts, encourages, and helps us worship.
One thing we may not tend to do however is read the Word out loud when we are by ourselves. When we read silently, we can be tempted to go too quick. We can fly over familiar passages that we may have read time and time again. When we read out loud, we slow down.
Reading out loud let’s us hear the words spoken. Read in a conversational tone like you were telling a story. We can focus on points we might miss when we read silently. God’s word is powerful and something about hearing it audibly really conveys the power of His words.
Pray Out Loud
My mind is prone to wander. I can be trying to pray and find myself thinking about some of the weirdest things. Even worse, I can be trying to pray and realize I’m going through the motions and not even sure what I just said to the God of the Universe. Isn’t that crazy!? We have the ability to talk to the One who formed us and saved us and we can find ourselves repeating the same thing every time or not even being sure what we just said.
If we had the opportunity to have 30 minutes with someone we really admire, I guarantee we would make all of those minutes count. We may think about what we’re going to say beforehand, we might even right down some questions, but we certainly wouldn’t nod off or be mentally somewhere else. Yet, I am sad to admit I find myself doing this with God.
Praying out loud helps me focus. When I am speaking to the Lord out loud I am more conscious of what I am saying. I may even let there be some silence as I think about what I want to say next. My prayers become much more focused and intentional. I don’t always pray out loud, but I do find it to be a very beneficial practice for me.
These aren’t things I do all the time, but they are things I find helpful. They can be helpful when I am tired. They can be helpful when I am alone. All three of them tend to really benefit my worship and help me draw closer to the God I treasure. Try one or all three sometime in the next week. Worshipping and talking to the Creator of the universe is a privilege. In the Old Testament, God either came to you or you went through a priest to have access to Him. May we not take the gift of unlimited access to the Creator of the universe lightly and may we always seek to know Him more.