Worship in the Everyday Ordinary

A busy street in Sydney, Australia

Many Christians find it difficult to integrate their spirituality into daily life. Exercising spirituality in the interior world of Personal Worship Time is safe and comfortable. It is relatively easy to worship the Lord in the protective confines of solitude. However, it amazes me how quickly meaningful spiritual focus is lost once I encounter the “real world” of freeway traffic, overbearing bosses, dysfunctional family members, economic stresses, project deadlines, and rude people. It is hard to maintain attitudes of humility and surrender in the “dog-eat-dog” mentality that pervades our workplaces, schools, and marketplaces. It is difficult to sense the love and peace of Christ when the daily circumstances we face are filled with spite, uncertainty, or tension. Even in the positive environments that some are fortunate enough to enjoy, the day to day routine and grind can lull us far away from the thoughts of God and the fact that we belong to him.

The authentic integration of Christian spirituality into everyday life is one of the main issues the Whole Life Worship paradigm addresses. We bring the “stuff of life” into our spirituality in the movement of Whole Life Worship I call the Everyday Ordinary. I want to make clear that the Everyday Ordinary is not about “singing songs to Jesus throughout the day” or “praising my Savior all the day long,” although music and an attitude of praise can contribute to this way of worship. Nor is it a “hermit mentality” where people try to disengage themselves from the world (physically or psychologically) in order to maintain connection with God. Nor is it a discipleship model that tries to exercise Christian standards and practices through will power alone.

Worship in the Everyday Ordinary integrates Romans 12:1-2, into daily life, whereby typical “everyday, ordinary” daily decisions, interactions, and events become acts of worship consciously surrendered to God. Worship in the Everyday Ordinary proactively invites the Holy Spirit’s power and wisdom into these life events to transform both the worshipers and the situations they face. This is where the “rubber” of faith meets the “road” of life. It brings the motivational power of worship into our discipleship, and our following of Jesus into actual daily life experiences.

There are three main ways we enter into Everyday Ordinary worship of God. One way is through practicing the presence of God in our daily tasks. This is a mindset (which comes from Brother Lawrence, a monk who lived 500 years ago) where we look at everything we do to the glory of God – whether that be filing paper work, attending school, driving our cars (ouch!), buying groceries, supervising people, or watching our kids play soccer. Every act is an act of worship. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

A second way of entering into this movement is making proactive connections with God throughout the day. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing.” While this is a daunting expectation, it serves as a vision statement for how we can connect with God. We can connect with God more frequently – especially if we plan on it. One method I’ve used is to set my watch on “chime” mode. Every hour, my watch would beep, reminding me to make a conscious connection with God – even if it was just a one sentence breath prayer like “Thank you, Lord, for being with me now.” A new way I proactively connect with God is praying the daily office at various times of the day. Or you can put a penny in your shoe and every time you feel it, lift up a prayer to God.

Finally, a third pathway is to invite God into an everyday ordinary moment and watch Him transform it into a holy moment. This is called the Sacrament of the present moment (from Jean-Pierre DeCassaude). This is particularly effective when you face a trial or obstacle in your daily life. When I’ve faced unpleasant tasks that are hard, I’ve found that when I invite the Lord into those moments that the task becomes easier and actually fun. He does make our yoke easy and our burden light – if we let him. Sometimes a really bad scenario becomes redemptive and amazing because we invite Jesus into it. We see the power of God in our circumstances because we are giving Him the space and the opportunity to do it. But more importantly, worship in the everyday ordinary transforms me. Those one second moments to pause in prayer and surrender often make the difference on whether I am following Christ or the world’s mold.

While it is possible to experience transformation in corporate worship and in personal worship, many of our significant transformational moments can only happen in the crucible of our everyday, ordinary lives. It is within the context of home, work, school, relationships, marketplace, leisure, and transit that we find the raw material for becoming Christ-like. Sometimes God miraculously works quickly; at other times, more slowly. The common denominator is a will wholly submitted to God. The attitude of Whole Life Worship (offering our lives to God as living sacrifices) within the events of the everyday ordinary, invites the presence of God to transform powerfully, both ourselves and our situations. This leads to more authentic worship of God, for we celebrate and praise God when we experience the Divine at work in and through our everyday lives. Worship in the everyday ordinary simply makes these transforming moments more available and possible.

Father, may everything we do begin with your inspiration and continue with your saving help. Let our work always find its origin in you and through you reach completion. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (taken from the “Divine Office – Morning Prayer for Feb 11, 2013”)

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