The Path Less Traveled is a teaching series of Society Church where we will be learning about how to live a life of worship for God.
The Guiding Practices of Worship (Prayer, Fasting, Study)
In The Cost of Discipleship Dietrich Bonhoeffer makes it clear when he writes
“grace is free, but it is not cheap. The grace of God is unearned and unearnable, but if we ever expect to grow in grace, we must pay the price of a consciously chosen course of action which involves both individual and group life.”
Leo Tolstoy observes,
“Everybody thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing himself.”
Let us be among those who believe that the inner reconstruction of our lives is a goal worthy of our best effort.
Mahatna Ghandi said:
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” OR “Be the change you want to see in the world today.”
Our motivation in these practices should stay centered on loving humble devotion inspired by God’s great love for us. Not that of self-righteousness, moral superiority, religious pride, or seeking to earn God’s favor or grace. The practice we will be exploring today is what I call the guiding practice of Worship. It’s the practice I turn to on a daily basis for guidance but also in times of confusion, mis-direction, frustration, or in need of re-orientation or vision for the future.
This guiding practice of worship come from the scriptures that we will look at today. The trinity of practices that make up this guiding practice of worship are:
1- Prayer as Worship
2- Fasting as Worship
3- Study as Worship
1. The Purpose and Practice of Prayer as Worship
Purpose- Cultivating relationship through conversation with God.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
2. The Purpose and Practice of Fasting as Worship
Purpose- Purification of the body, mind will and emotions. Re-claiming control over our passions and desires of the flesh.
“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.”
3. The Purpose and Practice of Study as Worship
Purpose: To bring about freedom of the mind that brings freedom of the soul, spirit, attitudes and eventually actions.
We have talked a lot about the cognitive behavior cycle as of late because I believe it is something that the scriptures teach. Our thoughts determine our feelings, actions and re-actions. New thinking leads to new feelings, which leads to new actions, re-actions and a new history of experiences that supports this new thinking.
Jesus made it unmistakably clear that the knowledge of the truth will set us free. “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). Good feelings will not free us. Ecstatic experiences will not free us. Getting “high on Jesus” will not free us. A classy, exciting, provocative, inspiring, attractive church service will not free us. Without a knowledge of the truth, we will not be free.
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect will.”