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The shame of Lutheran worship

For the most part, I find Lutheran prayers to be lukewarm at best. I include many of my own in this category. For the most part, our prayers lack fervor and intensity. The truth be told, most of our prayers are too polite and entirely lacking in passion.

This is why I love the Psalms. This is why I need the Psalms. The prayers of David, Moses, and Asaph were truly heartfelt. They are filled with anguish, complaint, joy, and wonder.

In my opinion, the problem with Lutheran prayers carries over into our worship. It seems to me that there is very little anguish, complaint, joy, and amazement in our worship. I suspect that this is true in the vast majority of LCMS congregations. I must confess that I’m envious of more demonstrative churches, particularly black and Pentecostal congregations. They pour out their hearts to the Lord. I wish that we could do the same. It makes me stop and think:

When we come to worship, do we respond in holy fear as did Noah?

Do we realize that we’re approaching the same Unquenchable Fire who spoke to Moses?

When we come to worship, do we hear the thunder of God's voice, the same voice that shook Job to the core of his being?

Do we cry out, “Woe is me,” as did Isaiah when he found himself in the presence of the Holy One?

Can we honestly put ourselves in David’s company: “O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your power and glory. Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You”?

When we come to worship, are we ever filled with wonder like the shepherds at the manger? Do we cry out like the centurion at the foot of the cross? Have we ever been overwhelmed with fear and joy as were the women at His tomb?

When we come to church, do we recall what happened to Ananias and Sapphira?

Has Jesus ever had to knock us on our ass like He did to Saul?

If Paul and Silas could praise the Lord after being beaten, shackled, and imprisoned, what is holding us back from doing the same?

Do we really understand and appreciate what is going on in worship? It seems to me that we do not. At least, not yet. This is a true shame.

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