Today’s reading is drawn from Psalm 40:1-3 and Matthew 15:7-8.
We’re singing the hymns and praise songs, listening to the preaching and fellowshipping with other believers. But something is missing from this worship service. There’s an absence of genuine emotion, a lack of real feeling. The usual awe and gratitude that accompanies worship is replaced by emptiness.
What can we do in times like this when we don’t feel like worshiping God?
Don’t try to fake it — There is a common admonition to “fake it til you make it,” to act as if you feel something until you actually begin to feel it. But God doesn’t want this type of faux worship (see Matthew 15:7 – 8). We can neither ignore our emotions nor act as if we are feeling something toward God that we are not.
Clarify our emotions — Sometimes the issue is not that we don’t feel anything, but rather that we are overcome by other strong emotions. For instance, if we have recently experienced loss or grief, we might not feel like singing songs of praise. In such situations, the answer could be to find other ways to commune with God, such as fasting.
Confess our sin — If we feel cold toward God, it could be a sign of hidden sin that needs to be confessed. Examine your heart and repent of any behavior that might be causing you to distance yourself from the Lord.
Wait patiently for God —David likely found himself in such a situation at the beginning of Psalm 40. But he “waited patiently for the LORD” (verse 1) until God “put a new song in [his] mouth, a hymn of praise to our God” (verse 3). As Steve Fuller explains, “The Hebrew word [for waiting] does not mean passive waiting; it means eager seeking. It means taking the steps that God has promised to use to help us, while trusting him expectantly to work.”*
Seek God by turning to him in prayer, reading Scripture and meditating on his Word. Recognize that, like David, if you wait on God, he will in due course pull you from the mire and put a new song in your mouth.
PRACTICAL TAKEAWAY: When we don’t feel like worshiping, we can examine ourselves, confess our sins and wait patiently for the Lord.
* Steve Fuller, “When You Don’t Feel Like Worshiping,” Desiring God, August 24, 2014, http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/when-you-don-t-feel-like-worshiping.