Repetition & Waiting – The Forgotten Truth
“It is easier to repeat something over and over when you know it to be true… but it seems pointless when you know it’s a lie.” That is what a close friend told me, when expressing his confusion over repeating lyrics over and over in worship…
The song said “His praise will ever be on my lips!” We sang the chorus while attending a Sunday morning church service. The phrase was repeated over and over – maybe 20 or 30 times – and while some were lost in worship, others were just that: lost.
After the service, it just happened to come up in conversation about how the repeated lyrics didn’t “do anything” for him. He was introspective enough to realize and articulate that repeating lyrics was fine if it was a declaration of who God is – like “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty!” – but when it comes to declaring something he knew he fell short of/in, it seemed pointless.
So – when is repetition pointless? What if you are saying something you don’t really believe to be true… or, in fact, is not true?
Here is some encouragement for you, if you feel like your requests are constantly falling on deaf ears. Or, if you feel like there is no point in repeating something you know is not true. For example, maybe ‘His praises’ are NEVER on your lips. Maybe your hands aren’t ‘clean’ (as the song says, “We lift clean hands to you in worship….”). What do you do?
First, shift your perspective.
So often, whether or not we engage in worship is dependent on how worthy we feel to come before the throne of Grace. The good news is that we can never become worthy apart from His grace! It is by His stripes we are healed… it was when we were sinners that Christ died for us… it was by grace we were saved, not by works of righteousness… when we were dead in sin, Christ died for us! Brothers and sisters, it is not your lack of sin that allows you to approach the King of Kings in worship, but rather His fullness of grace and outpouring of mercy!
The only way we can respond rightly to the scripture that implores “men everywhere to lift up holy hands (1 Tim 2:8)” is by His finished work on the cross.
Second, the Bible promises that those who keep seeking, keep knocking, and keep asking will be rewarded.
Contrary to our must-have-now American poison, the writer of Luke 11 and Matthew 7 actually wrote (in the original tense and correctly translated english) “Keep seeking, and you will find. Keep knocking and the door will be opened. Keep asking and it will be given to you. For to those who keep asking…” It is so easy to pray a few times and then quit. To sing a few choruses and grow weary. To do a few pushups and stop.
However, the Bible is full of promises to those who persevere! Consider Samuel’s mother constantly coming to the place of worship in earnest prayer. Consider the 5th, 6th and 7th walk around Jericho. Consider the 4th, 5th and 6th dip of Naaman in the Jordan. Consider the disciples waiting and praying constantly in the upper room. Don’t give up as you ask for freedom, hunger, revelation, breakthrough, and His fullness in your life. “Everything you paid for and nothing less, Jesus!”
The persistence with which we ask reveals the hunger for that which we are petitioning for!
Do not grow weary or underestimate the power of the repetition of your petition.
Third, death and life are in the power of the tongue.
Yes, I believe that you can declare life over your dry bones, streams in the desert places of your soul, and similarly speak death to your flesh. All with the power of your tongue. Even though you may not ‘feel’ the words of your praise, your prayers, or the Bible verses you have memorized, on the authority of God’s Word I can tell you that there is POWER in the confession of your faith!
I am not saying ‘fake it till you make it’, but I am saying that you should not underestimate the power of your own tongue in speaking light and life. Consider the way you would respond if someone told your son or daughter that they were ‘no good, a loser, stupid and ugly’ every day for a week… a month…a year. You (and I) would probably – umm – not let that continue to happen. Why? A lot of reasons. One of them being that we believe that when something is said loud enough and long enough, people actually begin to believe it regardless of what the truth may actually be!
So, use the power of your own tongue to literally speak life to the things that honor the Lord, and death to those that do not.
Lastly, don’t feel the need to follow the leader.
You can sing different lyrics than the worship leader. It’s not a crime. Still don’t feel right singing “His praise will ever be on my lips…” when you know it’s not true for you? Then sing “May His praise ever be on my lips…” and make it a prayer. Not sure how you feel about repeating “I give you all the honor and praise that’s due your name…”? Then sing “Help me give you all the honor…”. God is not impressed with how well we follow the worship leader or the pastor. He is impressed with our obedience, pleased by our hunger for more, and desirous of our broken spirit and contrite heart. These things He will not despise or turn away from!
Brothers and sisters, I challenge you to discover the joy in the ‘foolishness of God, which is wiser than man’s wisdom.’ Pray, sing, seek, knock…wait…repeat.
Ask, and keep asking… Seek, and keep seeking… Knock, and keep knocking. Then trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
I promise you this, on the authority of God’s Word, that it is God’s will that you flee sexual immorality (1 Thess 4:3). So if you find yourself still in the struggle to walk in your identity, decision, and destination as a free man or woman of God, then know that it is His promise to set you free (Gal 5:1)!