Clap and Shout!

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise!

Psalm 47:1

In the past three decades, Christians throughout the world have learned to worship more expressively. Even in formerly staid mainline churches, you can find loud singing and even, heaven forbid, clapping!

Part of me rejoices over our newfound exuberance in worship. Yet, to be honest, part of me recoils. My ancestors came from northern Europe, where people associate reverence with reservation. Something in my genes prefers to worship God quietly and carefully. Thus it’s no surprise that I found a home within the Presbyterian church. We’re happy to have our choirs singing joyously about clapping and shouting. We’ll even use these words in a hymn or song. But we certainly don’t want to do it ourselves! That feels almost indecent and disorderly.

There is surely a time to worship God in quiet and stillness. Psalm 46:10 suggests this. Habakkuk explicitly calls for silence in response to God’s holy presence (2:20). Yet Scripture repeatedly calls us to worship the Lord with vigorous physical expression. Psalm 47:1 joins a chorus of passages that call us to use our bodies in worship by clapping, shouting, standing, singing, lifting our hands, and so on.

Why is this important? Psalm 47 explains that physically expressive worship is a fitting response to God’s awesomeness and power. Even as a crowd would cheer for a king, so we ought to honor the King of kings. Moreover, when we invest our body in active worship, we often find that our hearts are stirred with love for God. Plus, we get to practice loving God with all of our strength, so that we might live fully for him each day.

Some Christians need to learn how to worship with greater zest, yes, even with more volume. Other Christians need to learn how to be quiet in God’s presence, so they might hear the still, small voice of his Spirit. Frankly, I need both.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you find it easier to be quiet before God or to clap and shout? Why? What helps you to be freer in offering yourself in worship to God?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, you know I don’t find it natural to clap for you or shout my praise to you. I know that you receive my worship with gladness, even when it’s quiet. But I also know that I need to discover the freedom of greater expression in worship. Help me, Lord, to offer you more of myself, more of my body, more of my voice, more of my whole self.

Even as I need to grow in being still before you, I also need to become more expressive of my love for you. By your Spirit, I ask for new freedom and joy in worship. May I hold nothing back as I love you with all of my heart, all of my soul, all of my mind, and all of my strength. Amen.