I love lists. I just love to make them, review them, and most of all, cross off each item as I complete each task. I make grocery lists, to-do lists, honey-do lists, and financial lists. Lists just keep me organized and focused on the moment and on my tasks to accomplish. At the end of the day, when my lists are completed, I come away feeling satisfied and in my happy place. And yes, I know, it’s a sick obsession!
Yet when I consider my walk in Christ, I have to be careful. Very careful. My devotion time with Jesus just can’t be cluttered with noise from my day ahead, so I have to take steps to prevent this from happening. Simply put, whether it’s in my intimate moments with Him or in my time of worship at my local church, I try to praise Him without distraction.
Yet that’s hard! After all, how can any of us guard against being distracted in our private and public worship? How can we remain fresh, focused, and humble before the throne of God? Sometimes, we aren’t even aware that we are distracted! To help you step back and realign in true worship, here are five warning signs that your time in worship may be distracted:
- When prayer is in autopilot. Prayer is something that Christ commanded us to do as we communicate with Him in all things. Paul instructs the church to “pray constantly” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, which is a huge burden and responsibility for us to keep it centered on Christ and His kingdom. We should be intentional with our time in prayer, both in corporate worship and throughout the week.
- When other activities take precedence. When other types of activities take over our lives on a regular basis, our time with God dwindles and we miss out on the wonderful fellowship only He provides. That’s not to say that there are times that we might miss occasionally, but it should be the exception, not the rule.
- When the method is more important than the message. Whether we are looking at preaching styles, instrumentation, or other considerations, there are many ways to worship the Lord. We are told to do everything “decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40), to “worship in Spirit and truth” (John 4:24) and to “speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (Eph. 5:19). There’s a key point here: our concern for the message of the Word needs to be elevated more than the method, not the other way around.
- When some become more prominent than others. James tells us in James 2:1 not to “show favoritism as you hold on to the faith,” and this applies to both worship meetings as well as everyday interactions with people. Francis Schaeffer once stated that “with God, there are no little people,” and the Bible has plenty of examples where we can see that we are equally valued in Christ. Having this concept out of balance can be distracting and downright unhealthy.
- When we reach for our phones. We live in an age that is absolutely amazing in terms of technology and all of the tools that it has to offer. While in some parts of the world, Bible translations are still desperately needed, English speakers have the Bible in multiple versions, all easily accessed on our phone. However, the use of the phone in worship comes with a risk: there might be a temptation to respond to an email, a text, or social media during a worship service. Be careful.
These are some, and I’m sure that there are more. However, the greater point is that God is worthy of worship, and we are privileged to worship Him. Remember: we don’t have to worship Jesus together, we get to worship Jesus!
Live like Him,
Dr. Fran Trascritti is a husband, father, grandfather, but most of all, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. After serving as a pastor in various churches for over 23 years, he now serves with the Explore the Bible team at LifeWay. You can email him at Fran.Trascritti@LifeWay.com.
 Francis Schaeffer, No Little People, (Crossway, 2003) 21.