How many of us have been in a church service on Sunday, with joyful music playing, people clapping and singing, the Word being proclaimed… but you just can’t join in?
Oh, you may be going through the motions, but your heart is not there. Life is hard, and you can’t shake it. I have a feeling I’m not the only one.

As our band was leading the musical worship at church on Sunday, an interesting process unfolded in my spirit. I have to admit that in the past, I have been the one struggling a little, but my hardships are nothing compared to some (ever since I chose to follow Jesus). It’s usually easy for me to throw off the negative thoughts and truly be joyful in praise.

(sheepish confession follows) I have judged others who cannot join in with corporate worship. This may come from my first 8 years as a Christian, in a church which highly valued outward expressions. It may come from my own sinful nature. I suspect it’s a little of both.

Sunday, as we sang songs extolling God and expressing joy in His salvation, I looked out among the congregation. I mean I really looked at them… made eye contact. I saw many who were struggling to throw off the cares of this world.

A mother who had lost a son to drugs, and is raising her granddaughter.
A man whose children have been turned against him by his ex-wife.
A 9 year-old who has fought cancer and won…for now.
A young woman who lovingly placed her baby for adoption as a teen.
Another young woman, her whole life ahead of her, plagued by severe anxiety disorder.

I asked God to show me how He sees them. It both blessed and broke my heart.

He is not sitting on the throne, wishing they would get over their “issues,” and just be thankful!
He is not thinking that if only they would have more faith, He would heal them!
He is not condemning them for not being “true worshipers”

He is sitting right beside them, wanting to hold them.
He weeps with them. He grieves their losses.
He is waiting to reveal His glorious healing at the appointed time, however that healing may manifest.

That is when God stirred my heart to turn the praise that I was able to express into prayers for His precious, hurting children.

Praise is rising, hearts are turning to You; We turn to You.
Hope is stirring, hearts are yearning for You; We long for You.
‘Cause when we see You, we find strength to face the day.
In Your presence, all are fears are washed away.
From “Hosanna” by Paul Baloche

Lord, let this be true for them. Let them turn to You, see You, and wash all their fears away with your love!

Jesus in Your name we pray.
Come and fill our hearts today
Lord, give us strength to live for You; and glorify Your name

Your name is a strong and mighty tower
Your name is a shelter like no other
Your name, let the nations sing it louder
Nothing has the power to save but Your name
From “Your Name” by Paul Baloche

Lord, be our strong tower, the shelter we run to in times of trouble. For we KNOW that nothing has the power to save but You!

Almighty Infinite Father, faithfully loving Your own.
Here in our weakness You find us, falling before Your throne.
You are the one that we praise; you are the one we adore.
You give the healing and grace our hearts always hunger for.
From “Wonderful Merciful Savior” by Dawn Rogers and Eric Wyse

Lord, in our weakness, let us fall before Your throne. You are faithful to find us. Show us the healing You give and the grace that is always sufficient for us. We will wait for You.

Let me leave you with one of my most favorite prayers in song. It is O Great God, by Bob Kauflin, based on the prayer “Regeneration” in the puritan prayer book, The Valley of Vision.

If you would like, pray the prayer as you listen, and dedicate your heart anew to our great God, in and through your circumstances. I know I did as I sang it last Sunday