When Christians participate in worshiping the One True God, there is benefit. Protection, joy, and wisdom are just a few of the benefits of worship recorded in the Bible. But there is a benefit that exceeds all others, and that benefit is intimacy with our Creator. James 4:8 instructs Christians to “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” Knowing that we worship a God who promises to reciprocate our desire to know Him more deeply is a powerful faith-builder. If we worship genuinely, in “spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), we will leave each worship experience noticeably changed—filled with hope and expectation, because we will have encountered the living God who has plans to bless all who believe (Jeremiah 11:29). Sadly, many people deny themselves such blessings because they approach worship as a spectator event instead of an opportunity to have an intimate encounter with their Savior. Those who attempt to practice worship with this mindset will always leave worship feeling like a shortchanged consumer.
Genuine worship is always about what we can offer to God, not what God can offer us. Jesus taught, "give and you shall receive" not receive so you can give. Too often people attend worship seeking their own comfort and agenda--there own gain instead of offering sacrifices for God's kingdom. Such a self-centered approach to worship is not only non-worship, but it also deprives us and possibly others in attendance who are affected by our un-engaged posture and participation, from receiving the blessing God intends to freely give during worship. Sadly, this plays out Sunday after Sunday for many all because they neglect to bring a "sacrifice of praise" when they attend (Hebrews 13:15).
What do you bring to worship each week? Do you make a sacrifice to bring it, or are you bringing leftovers? Are others in attendance encouraged by your participation, or stifled by your spiritual paralysis?
To be sure, I am not emphasizing money here, although this may well be your case—that is between you and God. But I do feel led to warn of a practice just as detrimental to our relationship with God, and that is giving our money in lieu of giving of our whole self in worship. The Bible teaches that our money, nor any other material thing or activity, will never be received as a sacrifice of worship in the absence of our whole self-sacrifice to God (1 Corinthians 13:3).
Coming to worship unprepared to give of every area of our lives implies that we believe God should be impressed and honored simply by our presence. May we repent of all personal preference and pretense and come ready to worship Him in "spirit and in truth" (John 4:24).