What Are Appropriate Acts of Worship?

What are proper bodily postures we should have when we are worshiping God? What expressions should we give in our worship? We need to be sure that our bodily postures and expressions are true reflections of our heart. We don’t want to contain our emotions when we genuinely want to worship and give thanks to God, but we don’t want to be like the hypocrites and give outward expression to be seen by man.


Should we sometimes pray in sackcloth and ashes to humble ourselves before the Lord to show true repentance, or is that just an Old Testament practice? What do you think? Does anybody know of any church, even in any New Testament era, like have you read about a church or ever in church history or in biography or in your own experience, has anybody ever even heard of somebody who actually has done anything with sackcloth and ash? (from the room) I guess why do the Catholics put ash on their forehead on a certain day? I've never known what that's about. Ash Wednesday Tim: Anybody know? (from the room) Well, it's not in humility. Tim: Yeah, it's in self-righteosness. (From the room) I think it's related to the Wednesday of the Lord's crucifixion. Tim: Yeah, I don't know either. But I guess it makes me think of this. Let's think about bodily motions, genuflecting, gestures, bodily positions that are associated with God in Scripture. Besides just sackcloth and ashes can you think of other things? (from the room) Lifting holy hands? Tim: Yeah, raising hands. And I was thinking of Psalm 141 that we have begun singing about the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Set a watch, O Lord... But the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice, so you've got that. You've got sackcloth and ashes. Any other? And I recognize lifting up of hands is not the same kind of expression as sackcloth and ashes, but I'm just thinking about the full gamut of the things that can be done. One of the Psalms that we sing that hopefully we'll be learning as a church. I believe it's Psalm 86. Oh, come let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker. Bowing down. What about that? What about raising hands? Is that something that we do in the New Testament church? Do you think so? (from the room) Well, it must be for Paul to put it right there in Timothy. Tim: Yeah, it's definitely found in the New Testament Scriptures. I remember my brother-in-law telling me one time that he really felt that he needed to raise his hands. And he'd always sit on the front, on the aisle. And he told me one time he really felt like he needed to raise his hands, and he didn't do it, and he felt like he probably grieved the Spirit. And I bring that up for your good. If you feel like raising your hands, raise your hands. I come from the conservative north in Michigan, and in the reformed community up there. Ruby can tell you, we visited one time up there in this Reformed church up in Grand Rapids, and the point was made from the pulpit that was powerful and I heard one person go "Mmmm." Ruby, do you remember that? And then you come down here and you've got Pat Horner and you've got Rick and it would be very expressive down at Community. And I'm from the north and I'm more wired like that, but I appreciate it when people are vocal, I appreciate it when people raise their hand. I appreciate it when I can hear Kevin. I would appreciate it when I could hear Jonathan Sanguinetti. I would appreciate it when I could hear Freddie Garza. I appreciate it when I hear James. I like vocality in the church. I like when people raise their hand. Especially when we sing the songs - I don't like to sing the Psalm 141 and sing about raising my hands unless I raise my hands. It's like let the raising of my hands be this, Lord. Well, I'm going to raise them then, because I want them to be that. How about rending a garment? That's kind of a show of something. Shouting amen. Other things that are done with the body? There's times they stood. You know, a lot of times the people that have you stand when Scripture is read, that's more than just a tradition from wherever they come from. Now, it might be a tradition where they come from. In Romania, the tradition is you sit when Scripture is read, you stand when you pray. Now, probably, the standing... doesn't 1 Timothy 2 talk about the men were not only raising their hands but standing? Or am I reading that in there? How come I'm thinking that that's the case? (from the room) I desire then that in every place the men should pray lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling... Tim: Yeah, I guess it's just how I imagine them praying. It's been the picture in my mind more than the words of Paul specifically. But can anybody think in Scripture where people stood when the Word of God was read. (from the room) Ezra, Nehemiah? Or was it Ezra? Try Nehemiah 8 maybe. I might be wrong, but check it and see. Is there anything in Nehemiah 8? 8:6 - Ok What else? (from the room) , it says, "falling on his face he'll worship God." Tim: Yeah, the unbeliever when he comes into our midst and he actually hears something. Or another song that we may introduce here that Craig and I, John, Judy, and my wife and the Munoz's we sang down at Community. "Clap your hands, all ye people, shout unto the Lord, praises of triumph" I believe is how it goes. Clap your hands. Well, we had that discussion just recently. Right, Pedro? And shout! There's a place to shout. I can tell you some meetings, Bob Jennings would shout. Charles and Mack both like to talk about them being at the Banner of Truth conference and Brother Bob just let out a whooping hollar and he was reprimanded for it. But Bob didn't fake those things. And here's the issue in all of this. She's asking about the appropriateness in the New Testament for these things. But, like Joel. Think about this. Joel says, "Rend your hearts and not your garments." Or you think about this, remember when Josiah had the Word read? And he rent his garment. But when God responded to him, He says you tore your clothes, but He recognizes that he had a penitent heart. And he wept. And that's the issue. How did Jesus describe those who make up His Kingdom? Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn. Well, you think about, blessed are those who mourn. Rejoice in the Lord always. What is this blessed are those who mourn? Well, the Christian knows both. The Christian knows joy; the Christian knows mourning. Sin, the lostness of this world, my own sin, other people's sin. But the issue is the heart. That's always the issue. When we go through motions... here's the thing, if our hearts are really on fire for the Lord, we should give vent to our emotions. It's only right. Listen, many of these verses that I'm talking about, raise your hands... the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Or come let us worship and bow down. These are coming out of the Psalms. The Psalms are very expressive. There's lots of emotion. There's weeping, there's moaning, there's groaning, there's bowing down, there's lifting up hands, there's praise, there's times of sadness over sin and regret, and there's times of great joy. And here's the thing on the one hand, you don't want to take what's true in your heart and try to contain it and not let it out. I would agree with my brother-in-law, we should not grieve - I think we can grieve the Spirit when the Spirit moves upon us to do things. You don't want to operate in the assembly or in front of people with the fear of man that shuts down the affections and the emotions that you feel towards the Lord. But the last thing you ever want to do is what the hypocrites do. You do things because you want to be seen by others. You take prayer postures. You know one of the things that was very common at Community was for us to pray on our knees. And there's times when I'll go back and pray with a group in the back with Kevin in it and Kevin likes to get on his knees. And I like that, because I like to pray on my knees, during the prayer meetings. I don't know why at Grace I've gotten away from that, but I like that. But you don't want to do things just because it's tradition. If you go low, if you fall on your face, it needs to be an expression of the heart, because it's useless and worse than useless if you rend your clothes and your heart isn't rent. And so, sackcloth and ash, it's just not culturally what we do. I don't even know when the last time I saw sackcloth. In fact, I'm thinking sackcloth is like burlap. Right? That's what I imagine it to be. As a kid maybe I'd see burlap seed bags. Both my step-dad and my biological father were farmers. And so I would see burlap bags. That's what I think of. Real coarse. Would be very uncomfortable to put on. I guess that's part of the idea. But throwing ash on our heads, it's not what we do. And I think those were days when typically they had a fire pit or they had the stove and there were constantly ashes. I honestly wouldn't know where to get ashes right now. We don't have any on our property. You probably don't. It's just not culturally something that we do. (from the room) Isn't it more like you said, in the Old Testament a lot of things were very external. Tim: A lot of things were very external. (from the room) Even you mentioned Matthew 6 about the hypocrites and even there Christ says to us, "Anoint your head and wash your face." It's like He's even wanting us to do this fasting in such a way that people don't even know that we're doing it. In the Old Testament, it was more of a corporate thing and you all did it together. Tim: Yeah. And a lot it has to do with... You know, what you do behind closed doors, that you're doing just for the Lord to see, that's one thing. What you do that you allow other people to see, that's another thing. And you know, you get down on your knees to pray in a prayer meeting. If you're going to take a posture that a lot of the other people aren't taking, you definitely don't want to do things to be seen. If you raise your hands, but you just know sometimes when you raise your hands that people are going to see, and that's the battle people go through, you know if I raise my hands... being able to get to the place where we are self-forgetful is so desireable. Where you're not thinking about what other people think. Where you're actually able to worship congregationally, and we're comfortable enough with each other that if I don't raise my hands, I'm ok; and if I do, I'm not thinking about others, I'm able to rejoice in the Lord. And we can be self-forgetful. People who are always examining, always thinking, you know, we think too much. And you want to think about the Lord, you want to think about His beauty, you want to think about what's being preached or about what's being sung about in the song, but getting so caught up in what other people think about how you react, that just kills it all. How do we get there? A lot of it comes, brethren, in just a close and a familiar walk with the Lord. Where you can just, if others from the church live here in the neighborhood, if I was to look out my window and see somebody walking the tree line out here and they just had their hands raised up, I'd be blessed. Because I'd know, they don't know anybody's watching right now, and they're just communing with the Lord and I'm glad. That's what I want. I mean pastorally, that's what we all want, people with a close walk with the Lord. The heart - that's the issue there.