Worship: The heart of the matter

Understanding God's heart and giving Him ours.

By Emily Minto

Yesterday I took my daughter Evie to her first ballet class. Watching her smile and come alive as she twirled and walked around on her tippy toes made my heart so happy that I had tears in my eyes! Later that day, my husband Vaughan took the kids to a fete where they got a lolly bag. When they got home, my son Judah said to me “Mummy, you can have my lollies, because you’re my best friend!”. If you know how much of a sweet tooth he is, you’ll know that is a big deal! But what I loved most about this was not the words (and not the lollies!), but the heart of love behind it.

Worship starts with knowing God’s heart for us. Why? Because God wants our hearts. And when we understand His heart for us, we are better able to give Him ours.

God wants our hearts

Scripture tells us the kind of worship God wants.

In Isaiah 29:13 (also quoted by Jesus in Matthew), we read the Lord say: “These people say they are mine. They honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote”. (NLT)

God doesn’t want our ‘duty’. He doesn’t want lip service. He wants connection. He wants YOU. From the garden, to the cross, to now, this is what God wants: our hearts.

In John 4:23-24 Jesus speaks about worship: “But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (NLT)

Notice how God wants worshipers – those who worship – not just the worship itself. He wants YOU. This passage also speaks of ‘truth’. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. Jesus is the way, truth and life, and the way to the Father. So worshipping in truth is worshipping Him, knowing who He really is and what He is really like.

So what is God’s heart for us?

What do you think God thinks and feels about you? Is He sad, mad or glad? How might these beliefs affect your praying or singing in worship? Are you negotiating with God? Are you trying to get back onto his ‘good’ side?

Being a parent has given me a greater glimpse into God’s heart for us as His kids. Like a good parent takes delight in their kids, God takes delight in you; His child. In Zephaniah 3:17 we read about His delight and joy for us:

“For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

When you have stuffed up, it can be hard to believe He delights in you. When you have fallen into doing something that you know you shouldn’t and didn’t want to do, you may not believe He is ‘rejoicing over you’. I talked about the delight of my son Judah giving me his lollies and saying nice things. But later that same day, he had a mega meltdown in the street. Does that make me love him less? No! And I am only an imperfect human parent; your heavenly Father’s perfect love for you doesn’t change and you can’t escape it!

Psalm 139 is one of my all time favourites. I encourage you to look it up. It speaks of a God who knits us together, who sees us before we are born. He is the One who formed our personalities, our giftings, our desires, our hopes and dreams, our quirks, our looks. He is passionate about you!

As you come to worship and reflect on God’s heart and yours, I pray for you what Paul prayed for the Ephesians:

“…I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19 NLT)

Listening recommendation: 

'Home' by Laura Woodley. Available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon

Emily is a songwriter, worship leader and the worship pastor at Redhill Church. Read more about Emily in her previously published blog post 'Life as a Worshipper: My Story'.