One of the best things about worship music is its ability to proclaim truth. When we get together to worship, we profess the truth of who God is and what He has done. We proclaim the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus; we declare the gospel. We sing of His power, faithfulness, grace, love, goodness, mercy, and on and on.
But we also lie a lot in worship. Just the title of a song like “I Surrender All” shows us that. Or lyrics like, “All my heart is yours,” “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,” “Where You go, I’ll go,” “My heart will sing no other Name, Jesus, Jesus,” “In Christ alone my hope is found,” and we could probably do this for most songs that we sing. I know, at least for me (and I think for everyone), that I cannot sing “All my heart is yours” and have it be true. I haven’t surrendered to Jesus in every area of my life, I don’t really want him to lead me beyond what I can trust, I don’t really want to go wherever He leads, my heart focuses on a lot of other things than Jesus, and my hope is not truly in Jesus alone.
We even often lie when we sing true things about God. We sing that God is faithful in every circumstance, but our thoughts and actions prove that we don’t really believe that. We shout out his power and strength, but we don’t live like He is bigger than any circumstance. We sing of the transformative power of the gospel, but we still sin every single day.
So should we not sing these lyrics because they aren’t true of us? No, because to put it simply, God doesn’t want our words, He wants our hearts.
I believe there’s something prophetic about worship music. I can sing “All my heart is yours” to Jesus and be authentic because even though it is not true of me right now, I desire it to be. There’s something about proclaiming the gospel, proclaiming truth, proclaiming that we surrender, that actually begins to make it happen.
There’s a song by Elevation Worship called “Great Things (Worth It All).” A lyric in the song says, “Thank You for the lonely times.” To be honest, at this season in my life, I can’t thank Jesus for the lonely times and mean it. I’m not thankful for being lonely, but I sing those lyrics anyway, because I want them to be true of me. I want to one day be able to say “Thank You for the lonely times,” because You showed me Your faithfulness, because I was drawn closer to You, and because I heard Your voice in the silence.
You may have heard this idea when talking about spiritual disciplines, that even if you don’t necassarily want to pray, do it; or want to read your Bible, do it anyway. Because if you are faithful in those things, the Spirit will work in them and eventually change your heart to where you want to do them. I think it can be the same with the words we sing in worship. We have the opporunity to proclaim things that may not be true at the time, but that we desire to be, and then have the Spirit begin to change our hearts and minds.
So you might be in a place where you doubt God’s goodness, but sing about it anyway. You may not agree right now that His faithfulness never ends, but sing about it anyway. Maybe you haven’t surrendered your whole heart to Jesus, but sing about it anyway. You may not have decided to follow Jesus anywhere, but sing about it anyway. I do every Sunday. I can promise that if you truly desire these things to be true of you, the Spirit will work to bring them about.
I love the way The Message version translates Psalm 51:16-17, “Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.” God doesn’t want our words, our performance, our great singing, our musical skill, He wants our hearts.
So come to worship and just offer your heart. Sing prophetically, sing for what is to come. If you’re in a place where you can’t worship because you’re hurting, because you doubt God’s faithfulness, because you can’t see His goodness, I want to invite you to come worship anyway. You have never and will never escape God’s notice. He wants to meet with you in worship, even if you don’t think you’re ready, or good enough, or surrendered enough, that’s ok, He just wants your heart.