Revelation 4:9-11 – We worship in order to give God honor, glory, and thanks.
Hebrews 13:15 – We “offer the sacrifice of praise to God…, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”
Isaiah 55:8,9; Luke 16:15 – But what pleases us and what pleases God are often two entirely different things. We must determine what we do in worship, then, according to what God wants, regardless of whether or not it excites us or gives us enjoyment.
Sometimes people say, “I just don’t get anything out of worship,” meaning that it does not please them like they expect it to. But this is no excuse for failing to worship, or for changing the worship so that it does please us. The purpose of worship is to please God, not to please the worshipers. We should participate, not for the feeling we “get,” but for the honor we can give to God.
(See also 1 Chron. 29:10-13; Neh. 9:5,6; Psalm 148).
Another purpose for worship is to teach people God’s will and to encourage them to obey it.
Hebrews 10:24,25 – We assemble to “provoke one another to love and good works” and to “exhort one another.” Note that it does not say to provoke one another to excitement and a “good time.”
Colossians 3:16 – We sing to “teach and admonish one another” as well as to express praise to God.
2 Timothy 4:2-4; 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 – Scriptural teaching may, at times, rebuke people and lead them to sorrow for sin. This may not be enjoyable or pleasing to the people, but it is still an essential part of worship.
(See also Acts 20:7; 11:26; 1 Corinthians 14:19-26; 1 Thessalonians 2:4).
To be sure our worship accomplishes these purposes, we must practice only what is authorized in God’s word.
Matthew 15:9 – Worship based on human invention is vain. We must avoid things that people invent or choose to participate in, either because of human wisdom or because of human feelings.
Colossians 3:17 – Everything we do must be in Jesus’ name (by His authority).
2 John 9; Galatians 1:8,9 – We are separated from God if we participate in any practice that cannot be found in God’s word.
So we should not design acts of worship or choose to participate in them simply or primarily because they give people a certain feeling or emotion. We must determine what we practice or participate in wholly on the basis of what God’s word says to do.
Now when Christians worship as God instructs, they surely will often experience emotions. This is good. But again the point is that we must control our emotions, not let them control our decisions about what we do.
All people have emotions. But emotions are cyclical. People have highs and lows. Some go way high and then way low. Others vary relatively little. But everyone has times when we are emotionally up and times we are down or “blue.” If the purpose or success of worship were to be measured by our emotions, there would be no standard for how to worship or what constituted acceptable worship, because it would vary so much.
So the standard God set is an absolute one, not determined by our emotions. We must choose to do what God says to do, motivated by our devotion and trust toward Him, regardless of what our emotions would encourage us to do. As we obey God in this way, we will develop a true and abiding sense of joy, not based on natural thrills or artificial excitement, but based on our conviction that we have pleased God according to His will. This is true spirituality.
(See also Phil. 4:4; Psa. 122:1; 1 Chron. 16:29-31.)