Every week when we worship together, we speak to God. We sing, we confess, we pray. Christian worship involves words. And many of those words are given to you. We have the call to worship each week. We have the assurance of pardon each week. And we have words, on a screen, set to music, that we all sing together. And these words that we have are good words. They are true words. They are beautiful words. And God loves these words. The Bible tells us that God inhabits the praises of his people. He revels and dwells amidst your words, your prayers, your songs. And the Bible calls forth these words. Praise the Lord is an exhortation, a call. Use words to testify and proclaim the goodness of God.
But, in the midst of all of these good, true, and beautiful words, it’s vital that we remember that God wants more than our words. And that what makes our words valuable to him is something that is beyond words. God wants more than our words. He wants our hearts. One of the fundamental indictments of God’s people (God’s people) in the Bible is “These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” God wants your heart, not just your words. He wants heart and words. And he tells us that, if all you bring is words, then your words are empty. Your worship is vain.
In a moment, I’m going to stop speaking. There will be a time of silence, a time of no words. And in that time of no words, find your heart. Where is it? Is it near to God? Or is it far from him? God’s here. He is here and now, present to us. And you’re here, and in a moment, when we sing, your words will be here. But your heart could be far from here. So in that time of silence, of no words, find your heart. If it’s far away, call it back. Bring your heart near to God, so that your words are good words and true words and beautiful words that flow from a heart that loves, honors, and enjoys the living God.
This reminds us of our need to confess our sins, so let’s seek him together now.
Prayer of Confession
Father, you want our words and you want our hearts. You call us to honor you with our lips, but you want more than lips. You want heart. And we confess that our hearts are full of evil thoughts and immorality and theft and murder and adultery and coveting and wickedness and deceit and sensuality and envy and slander and pride and foolishness. That’s what’s in our hearts, and that’s why our hearts are far from you. And we confess this is a great evil.
Father, we ask you that bring our hearts back to you. Bring them near to you. Forgive us for empty worship, for vain worship. Cleanse our hearts, we pray, and make us yours.
We know that if we in the church regard sin in our own midst, our prayers will be ineffectual, so we confess our individual sins to you now, in silence.