Willing Worship or “Will-Worship”?

The worship gatherings in our congregation are simple and straight-forward, by design. We come to do nothing other than read, sing, pray, and preach God’s Word, along with showing it in the ordinances of the Lord’s Supper and baptism.

It is necessary to “regulate” worship by these elements, so that it is the willing offer of praise to God and not the prostrate reverence of our own wills.

Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646):

I say that all things in God’s worship must have a warrant out of God’s Word. It must be commanded; it’s not enough that it is not forbidden. I beseech you to observe it. It is not enough that a thing is not forbidden, and you cannot see what harm there is in it. But it must be commanded.

…if I do not have Scripture to warrant me, I am therein superstitious.

… Now when man shall put a religious respect upon a thing by virtue of his own institution, when he does not have a warrant from God, that is superstition! We must all be willing worshippers, but not will-worshippers. We must come freely to worship God, but we must not worship God according to our own wills (Gospel Worship, pp. 10-11).

It does not matter if we see “no big deal” in adding to (or subtracting from) the elements of worship that God has laid in His Word. To ask ourselves “What’s the harm in ____________ (dancing, drama, images, etc., etc.)?” is quite superstitious. And, even worse, it turns our ostensible worship of God into the worship of our own wills.

To come to God willingly, is to come before God in submission to His glory and authority in worship. He’s not looking for creativity, but circumspect hearts and submissive minds to the revelation of Himself in the Scripture. When we gather with such affections and submission, our worship will reach the throne of heaven and edify one another.