I heard it in a prayer this week. It was just before worship when someone prayed, “Lord, take away anything that might distract us from seeing you.” I love this prayer because I want to see only Jesus when I come to worship.
Only what have I brought to worship with me?
Sometimes there are the trials of the week: someone’s discouraging word, the argument with a co-worker, and some prayer answered in a way I did not prefer. There can also be the atta-boy from the boss, the good time with family the day before, and the memory of that wonderful chocolate peanut butter milkshake.
There are events and circumstances from our week that cross or even crowd our thoughts. And it is these things that usually make up the distractions we earnestly pray the Lord to take away. Let’s rethink this prayer in light of the Scriptures.
Consider first that the Psalms are a mixed bag of praise and pain. Most of the psalms are laments. Both our rejoicing and our crying is worship before the Lord, an acknowledgement that our circumstances are not fully what we desire them to be.
Next, Paul urges us to make our requests to God a staple of our prayers before him. “Do not anxious for anything,” he said, “but in all things by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7). We worship with all the circumstances of life. We think they distract us. Rather, they can be the very vehicle that moves us in line with the heart of God.
The pastor of the church I attended after college used to start every worship service by saying something like this, “We have come to worship the Lord with all the experiences of this past week, knowing that He was with us in them all.” The joys and sorrows of our lives are not distractions to our worship. Rather, they are the impetus to praise the Lord in our joys and seek the Lord in our sorrows. In this we strive to hear the Lord Jesus who is above the noise of life and who walks closely with us in life. It is here that we truly worship.