I overheard them talking about my friend. I tried to pretend I wasn’t listening, but I paid careful attention to the surprise and awe in their voices.
She thought she was alone in the room, and at six years old, before school started and the rest of the class was anywhere near her classroom, she was on her knees and pouring out her heart to Jesus in prayer and worship. I was just seven and had no idea you could experience a deeper walk with the Lord, especially at that age. It was the first time I had heard of such intimacy, such zeal.
I never asked her about that moment—it seemed far too sacred, and perhaps there was a tinge of jealousy in my heart I didn’t know how to navigate. Not in a negative way—I loved my friend—but I felt like I was missing out on something, and a fire was lit in my heart that day to experience God in a deeply profound way, one that was sacred, intimate, and awe-inspiring.
I was raised in the church, and from my earliest memories, I always loved it. I remember falling asleep under stackable metal chairs while my mom and dad went to Bible studies.
I had a special pair of brown leather boots I loved to wear on Sundays, dubbed my “dancing boots” because I loved kicking my little legs in rhythm to all my favorite praise songs.
I was singing on the worship team at around ten years old, and the rhythms of the church kept me steadily moving forward for years.
After I graduated high school, I was in a band that got signed to a record label, and we moved from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, all the way to the other side of the world to Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue our dreams of music. Due to the demands of our touring schedule and travels, it was the first time in my life that I had missed so many consecutive Sundays. I was home only two Sundays in an entire year; the first Sunday, I visited a church, and the second Sunday, I was so exhausted I slept in.
Being so unplugged from the church rhythm that usually fed my walk with God, my relationship with Him seriously dwindled. I was starving for anything spiritual and had entirely relied on the church to provide it for me.
The matters in my heart were in severe disarray, and I was walking the line on some really poor decisions in my life. Although I still loved Jesus, my soul lacked nourishment, and I was becoming more cynical and jaded.
Because He is the faithful pursuer of hearts and where we are in our relationships matters to God, He whispered to my heart one day, “This is not what I have for you. There’s so much more . . .”
That same familiar voice took me back to the beginning of when that fire was lit in my heart as a young girl; that true worship of Him meant more.
God longed for me to know Him, to walk intimately with Him, and to hear His voice. He wanted my heart to be in unison with His, and I needed to learn how.
I had relied so heavily upon “worship” experiences at church. Because music is the language of my heart, experiencing God through music was so easy for me, but God was calling me to more.
But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him.John 4:23
True worship is when my inner life matches my outer life. It’s not just expressing myself through music or experiencing God emotionally but learning to love Him with my heart, soul, and mind. To journey with Him all day, every day.
To know Him personally and learn about Him as I study the Scriptures, to come to Him willing to yield and learn. Willing to adjust my ways and my desires to His.
The verse above teaches us that God desires authentic worship from our hearts, not just our mouths. So, He made a way for us to have an intimate relationship with Him that flows from a personal connection with Him and not just lip service or external knowledge about who He is a couple of times a week.
Although we have dubbed it a “worship service,” worship is much more than gathering together on a Sunday morning and singing songs.
It’s the overflow of our relationship with God. In other words, worship starts in the quiet places of our hearts. What is going on in the inner courts of our hearts? In the sanctuary of our minds?
Is God invited into those places? Do we include Him and encounter Him there?
I realize now more than ever that beholding Jesus in the most intimate places of my heart is where worship starts. Congregational worship is when we come together and agree with the work God is doing and has done, but we cannot rely on those moments to be the source of our intimacy with Him.
How much does God matter to us throughout the course of our day? How much does our relationship with Him transform who we are?
More importantly than singing songs about God, are our hearts engaging with Him?
Who God is should evoke a response from us that should be answered by how we live our lives.
Humans do not see what the LORD sees, for humans see what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.1 Samuel 16:7b
Suppose you’ve forgotten the value and pure joy of who Jesus is, or you feel that same stirring for more of Him. Because of His kindness, we need to respond by asking God to correct our courses and give us a desire for who He is—a prayer of rededication and a willingness to turn our eyes to Jesus. We don’t need to overcomplicate anything, but simply start by being honest with God and ask Him to move in the inner places of our hearts.
Then as we engage with other believers when we gather for corporate worship, our hearts will overflow with thanksgiving for the life God is breathing back into us.
Sow righteousness for yourselves and reap faithful love; break up your unplowed ground. It is time to seek the LORD until he comes and sends righteousness on you like the rain.Hosea 10:12
From songs of praise to cries of lament and everything in-between, the book of Psalms captures the wide range of emotions in life. The psalmists paint a picture of a relationship with God that is filled with delays, disappointments, surprises, and triumphs. Through it all, their words model an incredible resolve to keep their eyes on God. Instead of being swallowed up by the darkness of their emotions and circumstances, they persevered in grabbing hold of God’s unfailing love and faithfulness.
In this 7-session Bible study, author and singer Adrienne Camp invites you to join her on a journey through the book of Psalms. Gain a deeper understanding of who God is and be encouraged to hold on to Him no matter what is happening around you. Let the psalms become the prayers you carry with you into every moment of every day, so that you, too, can say with confidence, “As for me, I will worship and serve the Lord no matter what.”
Adrienne “Adie” Camp, a South African singer and songwriter, was the lead singer of the Christian rock band The Benjamin Gate before launching her solo career. She is married to fellow musician Jeremy Camp, whom she met on tour in 2002. They have been married since 2003 and have two daughters, Bella and Arie, and one son, Egan. Adrienne is deeply passionate about her marriage and her family. She homeschools her children as they often accompany Jeremy on tour.
She has authored three books—Even Me, an illustrated children’s book about her daughters’ adventurous trip to Uganda, In Unison, which she coauthored with her husband, Jeremy, about navigating their marriage and relationship, and As for Me: Life Through the Lens of the Psalms, a Bible study book with Lifeway Women. So far, she has traveled to twenty different countries and is motivated by a desire to see people encounter God’s love all around the world.