There has always been a large debate about whether God’s people should come to worship (privately or corporately) expecting something or expecting nothing. It’s really a pretty easy answer, but the issue is one of what we are expecting, not whether we are expecting. So what should we expect?
Expect a changed life and a closeness to God
Worship through prayer, learning, life application, and giving glory to God is designed specifically to bring you closer to God. Look at the examples in the Bible of people getting closer to God spiritually. None of them walked away unchanged. Paul, Moses, Joshua, Abraham, the disciples, and even the thief on the cross. All of these people, plus far too many more to count, got exceptionally close to God spiritually. And all of them were drastically changed. No one enters the presence of God and leaves unchanged. To expect to enter the throne room of God and get closer to Him and leave unchanged is to view God as shallow and powerless.
Don’t expect goosebumps
Giving glory to God does not necessarily mean you are going to get goosebumps, good vibes, a crying fit, or a sunny disposition. Look at men in the Bible like David. David sang some seriously sad Psalms. (Say it 5 times fast). He held out hope and had joy because of God, but his outward happiness was definitely shaken. It’s important that we realize that we can have inner joy (dependent on our relationship with God) without having outer happiness. Going into worship does not mean that you’ll get things that you want. It doesn’t mean that you’ll be happy. It doesn’t mean that God will bless you financially. Be careful of expecting the things that you shouldn’t expect.
We should always expect to be changed. We should expect to come into the presence of God. We should expect, if done correctly, to be closer to God and to be more like Him when we apply His truths to our lives. On the flip side, there are plenty of things not to expect. Don’t expect good feelings all the time. Too often we equate true worship with emotional overflow. Just because you got goosebumps doesn’t mean you worshipped. On the other hand, just because you didn’t get goosebumps doesn’t mean you didn’t worship. To state my case: Goosebumps are not an indicator of how your worship time went. So next time you have a time dedicated to worship, be careful with what you expect.