“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24
Worship is beautiful. Worship is righteous. Worship is powerful. Worship can be described in so many ways. Worship has been a part of my life for a very long time. I joined my Youth Group’s Praise Team when I was just 11 years old. I was asked to join because the Praise Team needed someone to play keys and I just happened to be the only one who was adequate enough to play the part. For 10 years, I have experienced Worship in so many different ways. I started out as someone who just played because I thought it was so cool being up in the front, playing songs that everyone else could sing along too. It is only recently have I truly found the very true essence of Worshiping our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
As I grew as a Worship Musician, I started to go through the “emotional song phase,” the phase where I would start crying and get emotional because the song I was playing sounded so good and/or the dramatics of the music made me feel sentimental. I began to mistake this response for “being overwhelmed by Jesus.” I began to think to myself, “Worshiping God is really make me emotional.” And soon I started to emphasize my own emotions whenever I would play during Worship and try to pour out my heart into the words of the song. I poured out my heart into making the song the best that it could sound and if it sounded good, then I would get really emotional. I would tell myself “so this is what it feels like to Worship God.” But little did I know, it WASN’T my spirit singing out to God. It WASN’T me glorifying God, and pouring out my heart into not only the words of the song but to the very creator of our hearts. It WASN’T me throwing away my selfish pride and arrogance to acknowledge that God was truly present. It WASN’T me hungering and thirsting for His very Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. It WASN’T me yearning for His most Holy Eucharist. Instead, I was using Worship Music as a way to express my own emotions. I was playing so I could relieve my own stress and worries. I played because it made me feel better about myself. I played because it made me feel powerful and superior. I played all these Worship songs, not knowing that not only my heart had to be in the right place… but ALSO my soul.
John 4:24 says “Those who Worship Him, worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.” Singing Worship songs is more than just pouring out emotion, it’s surrendering your Spirit into His very Hands. It is very easy to get caught up into how good a song sounds, how drastic the dynamics are, how softly a part is played and so forth. As a Worship Leader, I know that all these effects are done to help ease people into letting go and fully Worshiping, but as true Disciples we should not let ourselves get too caught up into the emotional aspects of Worship. First things first, as Catholics, let us not forget that the only True Act of Worship is going to Mass on Sundays and receiving the Eucharist. Only the Eucharist can fully quench our souls and make us feel spiritually whole. Going to Worship nights or Praise Concerts should always lead us back to receiving the Eucharist, and they should make us want to go to Sunday Mass even more. We should never forget the Eucharist, even if we’re singing out songs about How Great Our God is. The inner essence of Worship is treasuring God, enjoying His presence, and being at ease from Spirit to Spirit. It’s about being satisfied with Him alone and throwing away your personal pride and desires in order to acknowledge Him as the one true God in your life. Sure, crying doing your favorite Worship song is great, but Worship is just so much more than that. It is a Spiritual Journey… not just an emotional one. Worship is truly from the soul. If a vocalist is singing a Worship song and it is not a spiritual experience for them, then they are simply just singing words. If an instrumentalist is playing a Worship song and it’s not a spiritual experience for them, then they’re just playing notes. Just like if you’re going to mass and receiving the Body of Christ; if that’s not a spiritual experience for you, then you’re just eating bread. It’s that simple. Worship is a spiritual experience in every way possible, no “if’s,” “and’s,” or “but’s.” From experience, I have noticed that Worship Vocalists tend to cry a lot easier than Instrumentalists. Why? Because Vocalists are actually singing the words of the song and feeling it, while instrumentalists are just playing Chords and/or riffs and it’s naturally harder to get into the mood of wanting to cry or get emotional. But here’s the catch. Worship is from the soul. So even if the Instrumentalists aren’t singing a word, their souls should still be singing out in silence. I always emphasize that Instrumentalists and Vocalists can Worship the same way, as long as their souls are the ones that are Praising God, both passionately and relentlessly. The most beautiful thing I have ever seen was seeing my drummer break out in tears during a song. He didn’t break out in tears because he was singing the words of the song and it hit him, it was because he was playing the drums with all his heart, mind and soul, placing God above everything else and praising Him with everything he could give. That his true Worship, and when everyone in the Worship team is able to fully comprehend what Worship really is, then something amazing happens. True Worshiping is always Worshiping God in SPIRIT.
Not musically talented? Have you always wanted to play an instrument but never really had the time? Don’t worry, because since Worship is from the soul, that means you can Worship Jesus the same exact way. Romans 12:1 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of Worship.” Worship doesn’t just end on Friday night after Youth Group concludes, it actually just begins. Worship is meant to be brought out into the world. It is meant to be shared by those who are called to bring God’s peace and love to others. And as Catholics, we are all called to be living and holy sacrifices as our spiritual service of Worship. We must live our lives with our souls constantly crying out for more of Jesus. One of my favorite Catholic authors of all time, Matthew Kelly, once said in Rediscover Catholicism,”The Greatest form of Worship is imitation.” What better way to Worship Jesus Christ than trying to live the way that He did. If we are not living the way Christ has called us to live, then leading Worship and singing songs in His name means nothing. We must Worship God everywhere we go, in all our actions, in all our words. Everything we do or say should all be to glorify God. The key to being a Great Worship Musician isn’t being an amazing guitar player or having the most amazing vocals. The key is much simpler than that… It’s being the best living witness of Christ you can be here on Earth. Everyone loves to talk about feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit whenever they Worship, but the point of that is to take that presence you experienced and bring it home with you. Then let the Holy Spirit guide every step, every decision and every move you make. Let the Spirit guide you in everything that you do and let it bring you even closer to the Eucharist each day. That’s what Worship is about and that’s what Worship will always be about. Matter of fact, that’s what Worship IS. If you live your life according to His spirit, then you are able to fully Worship Him in TRUTH.
“In Spirit and in Truth.” That will always be what true Worship is about. We must never come up short with either of these two things. We were created to Worship. Believe it or not, our souls constantly yearn to Worship God, day in and day out. We don’t Worship God cause He needs us to Worship Him, we Worship God because WE need to Worship Him. Our souls hunger and thirst to Worship God, just like our souls hunger and thirst each day for the Eucharist. As His most faithful servants, we must Worship Him in both Spirit and in Truth! And only through that, can our souls be fully quenched with His most precious love, mercy and divinity. We find true inner peace when we Worship Him, and nothing else in this world can satisfy us the same way. We were made to Worship God so let us always keep that in our hearts and mind wherever we go! Lord God, you are the true satisfaction we seek, and we know that only through You can we be found! You are the Spirit and the Truth! Amen.
Written by Ramil Caragay