What It Means to Worship: {Lessons on Responding to Answered Prayer}

I don’t remember what I was doing when I heard it, but the message was clear.

“When I answer all your prayers, worship Me.”

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It caught me by surprise. But at the same time, I was praying for answers.
For guidance. For proof we were still on the right path. For proof we were still following His call and not just blindly stumbling around on our own trying to make things work.

“When I answer all your prayers, worship Me.”

I felt so many emotions surging almost simultaneously.

Joy. Joy that He was listening. Joy that He was going to answer. Joy that He spoke to me. Joy that I had something to do, some clear directive on what to do next.

Frustration. Frustration that He wasn’t actually answering any of my prayers yet. Frustration that He didn’t say if we were doing or pursing the right things. Frustration that He didn’t say when this was going to happen.

Relief. Relief that it isn’t up to us. Relief that He would be the one to do it, so all we had to do was worship. Relief that I heard Him so clearly.

As these emotions washed over me and back again, a question began growing in me.

”Okay God. You said to worship You when You answer our prayers. What does that actually look like?”

I knew that worship wasn’t only singing songs with my hands raised on Sunday mornings. I knew that it was something I needed to do with my whole life. Honoring Him through my actions and words and decisions.

But to worship Him for something specific... What did that mean? What is that supposed to look like?

So I started praying some more.

It’s amazing how so often the answers God gives me when I pray, push me to praying even more…to seeking Him and pressing into Him all the harder.

Asking over and over, searching lives and stories around me, I struggled to understand how to worship God in this way.

Slowly, quietly, a few things have presented themselves.

First, I can worship God through prayer.

I can literally sit down or stand up or kneel on the ground and use my voice to out loud tell God, “Thank you. I worship You. You did this and I acknowledge that it was You, not me, and I praise You for it.”

Second, I can tell others.

I can use my actual voice to boldly proclaim to people in my real life, “I asked God for this and He answered. I prayed for this and here is how He came through for me.”

Third, I can take hold of the evidence of God’s goodness for me and allow it to fill me further with hope and faith in Him.

I can tell God and others of His goodness and faithfulness and then go right back to my worrying ways about the next problem in my life. Or I can choose to rejoice in the goodness and kindness He has shown me and then hold fast to Him no matter how difficult and painful and broken the rest of my life is.

As I type these words out, my heart is drawn into rejoicing and praise once again, because these things listed above, they are the answers to my prayer. The prayer that said, ”God, teach me how to worship You.”

But before He showed me those things I listed above, He showed me something much deeper.

If I want to worship Him for answering my prayers, I have to to notice when He does.

There have been so many times in my life that I have prayed and prayed for something, only to fail to notice when He answers, or to barely acknowledge it when I do notice.

We cannot worship Him and give Him the glory and honor for what He does in our lives if we fail to, or refuse to, notice the things He does.

I’ve gotten distracted, forgotten to persevere in prayer, and subsequently not even noticed when the prayer was later answered.

I’ve been so excited when He answers my prayers that I run around telling everyone I know what a huge blessing God gave us, and never stopped to tell God how thankful I am.

I’ve been so fixated on the bigger and scarier problems in my life that I refuse to worship God when He answers in the little ways, simply because I’m angry that He isn’t answering the big ways.

Missing any step in the chain will hinder me from being able to worship God, to give Him the glory, for what He is doing in my life.

I must simply do the work of praying, noticing, and worshiping God for His work in me.

It comes down to that. To the day in and day out of staying in close relationship and communication with God, no matter how loud or quiet He seems. He will follow through on His end. I must follow through on mine.