Thanksgiving – where worship begins

The other day I came across a book someone had lent me a while ago, A Worship-Filled Life by Marcos Witt. Now I had been given the book over a year before, but had lost it (yeah, think twice before you let me borrow something…); anyway, I discovered it so I thought the courteous thing to do would be to at least read it before giving it back.

I enjoyed the book. It’s an easy read and Witt does a great job highlighting some important points about worship. One of the things he emphasized I found to be particularly insightful, and since this is one of my first posts in a blog about worship, it seemed like a good topic to use as a “jumping off” point.

The Worship-Filled Life

In the first chapter, Witt suggests that the “first phase” of worship is thanksgiving. He argues that before one can truly learn how to make worship a way of life, we must start with gratitude. Later in the book he explains how, when we talk about worshiping in spirit and truth, one of the ways we must worship in truth is that we can’t worship what we don’t know. And unless we have experienced God’s goodness, His mercy, His love – what exactly are we responding to? Because worship is, essentially, a response. So in order for our worship to be sincere, it must start as a response rooted in thanksgiving.

Spend any time in the Psalms and this becomes very apparent. Psalm 100 talks about “entering His gates” with thanksgiving. Psalm 57 speaks of giving thanks to God “among the peoples”, and in Psalm 75 the psalmist thanks God because His name “is near.” And there are many, many more examples. The language of praise is saturated with gratitude and thanks.

How can we cultivate an attitude of thankfulness in our lives? Paul’s words in Colossians 3 give us some clues – “And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (vs 15b-16, emphasis mine)

From this passage I see three things that are helpful in cultivating a life of worship that begins with thanksgiving.

1 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” When we consume God’s word and allow it to dwell in us, when we meditate on it and allow its truth to permeate our lives, it is indeed rich in producing the fruit of thankfulness.

2 – “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom…” Fellowshipping together as Jesus-followers leads to a collective spirit of gratitude for who God is and what He has done.

3 – “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…” Declaring truths about God reminds us of His attributes. Intentionally developing a habit of conscious praise is essential to a continuous outpouring of thankful worship.

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