By Steve Parrish, Jr., Worship Leader
Weekly worship with my church family is something I look forward to every week. When leading the congregation on Sundays, I get chills as I hear the body of Christ singing praises to the Lord. Worshiping together takes up a very large portion of our typical Sunday morning service, so it begs the question: why do we worship corporately?
To those raised in the church, corporate worship has been engrained into our DNA. If asked “why corporate worship?”, a response you might here is, “It’s just something we do.” Yet to others adopted into God’s family, it can be one of the most uncomfortable 20-30 minutes of their week. Singing around people maybe is not in their wheelhouse. The Bible, however, has one key passage of scripture that illustrates the importance of worshiping in community: Matthew 18:19-20.
“19Again, here is what I tell you. Suppose two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for. My Father in heaven will do it for you. 20Where two or three people
meet together in my name, I am there with them."
Now before you start to say, “Hey, wait. This verse doesn’t say worship…” take a step back and think about worship for a moment. At its core, worship is prayer; it just has a neat beat and spiffy melody slapped on it. This verse emphasizes the importance and power that standing together with another believer has. Now, let’s dive a little deeper.
Believers will ask others to pray for them, and with them, on a regular basis. If a fellow believer walked up to you and asked you to pray for them, I doubt you would say no. It’s part of our culture as followers of Christ. Not to mention, it really works when more than just one person prays in agreement for a situation. You could find hundreds and hundreds of stories about how a person in the church approached their small group, close group of church friends, or various leaders in the church, asked for prayer, then surprise their prayer was answered.
Now, I’m willing to bet that you probably haven’t had someone in the church approach you and say, “I really need you to pray for me. Can we just sing together here and now?” Honestly, a request like that would make for some uncomfortable situations. The funny thing about that however is that worship is that exact request, just unspoken.
Matthew 18:19 shows us the power of praying with one another. If worship is prayer with melody, this verse shows us the power of worshiping together. Understanding this is ground breaking especially when we sing a song that specifically speaks to you. Sure maybe those around you don’t know your particular situation, but their worship to God still carries a spiritual punch. When we fully embrace the power of worshiping together, we step into a whole new arena of authority that God has already called us to reside in.
Everyone loves a good song about the presence of God. Something about it is enticing and makes hairs stand up on the back of our necks. We sing for God to come fill us with His Spirit and it is always incredible when we feel Him. Verse 20 of Matthew 18 paints a slightly different picture though.
This is not to take away from any song that asks for God to come into our midst. A song, or a prayer, like that has the power to radically change our lives. God hears our words, for we are gathered in agreement, and responds. Verse 20 just causes us to pause and think about how God’s presence functions.
God is already with us when we gather, so why would we ask for Him to come? He’s already there! It sounds silly that we would do such a thing when you stand back and think about it. His word promises us that when we gather in His name, He is already with us there. So, maybe instead of asking for God to come, we should be asking for God to help us push past all the distractions around us and in our lives so that we can find Him there in our midst. It is a promise God has made to us; one that we should take full advantage of every opportunity we get.