The 20 Minute Worship Challenge
By Becky Harling
“Becky, before you even open your Bible for morning devotions, will you offer God 20 minutes of worship?” That simple challenge, given to me by my mentor, Linda, changed my life.
When Linda challenged me to spend the first 20 minutes of every day in worship, winds of chaos were ripping through my life with hurricane force. I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer, and I faced a double, complete mastectomy.
At the same time, other serious trials were testing the strength of my spiritual levees. It hardly felt like a time to praise God; it seemed more appropriate to fast and plead with the Holy One for healing. But what did I have to lose? Though skeptical, I decided to try morning worship for a month.
The first morning, I put on some worship music, got down on my knees, and allowed the songs to prompt thoughts of praise to the Lord. To my surprise the 20 minutes flew by, and I found myself excited to worship again the next morning. The second morning, I praised my way through the alphabet, worshiping God for His attributes that correlated with each letter. I continued to vary my approach. Sometimes I praised Jesus by praying scriptures back to Him.
Other mornings I took a walk and let the beauty of God’s creation prompt my praise. At times I praised God for each of His names and what they revealed about Him. I asked the Holy Spirit to be my teacher, begging Him to unite my heart with His so that together we might resonate with praise to Jesus.
As I intentionally incorporated praise into each day, I began to change. I grew more hopeful and less fearful. I experienced a deeper sense of God’s love and goodness. Worry was replaced with calm, and anxiety with faith.
Changed by praise
Taking “The 20-Minute Worship Challenge” helped me discover the power of praise in several specific ways. Praise awakened my soul to God’s presence. We cannot manipulate God into showing up. How much of Himself He reveals is entirely up to Him. However, Scripture tells us that the Holy One inhabits our praises (Ps. 22:3, KJV). As I adored Him and admired His glorious character, God began to manifest more of His presence to me, and the Holy Spirit awakened my sluggish soul to experience it.
Praise enabled me to experience God’s love. Though I had served God faithfully for years and taught His love to others, I personally could not feel His love. But as I praised Him for it as an act of faith, a strange thing happened: Worship became for me a love exchange. As I communicated my love to God, He communicated His love to me.
Praise released me from bondage. When Paul and Silas were in jail bound by chains, they began to sing praises, exalting the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. As they worshiped, their chains fell off (Acts 16:25-26). Worship did the same for me. As I praised Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit revealed areas of bondage in my life. Old habits of control were uprooted as I learned to surrender. To His control, and old thought patterns of fear were replaced with new patterns of courage.
Praise strengthened my faith. Worshiping God took my eyes off my worries and lifted them to His glorious character. As I focused on His majesty, my faith was bolstered and my concerns shrank in significance. This was particularly true in the area of parenting. Anxiety over childraising had become a pattern. But as I praised God for His character and found rest in the shadow of the Almighty (Ps. 91:1), it became easier to trust God, even with the lives of my children.
Praise enlarged my heart for God’s purposes. We become like the one we worship (Ps. 115:2-8). As the Holy Spirit took me deeper into adoration of God, I found myself embracing concerns that weigh heavily on His heart Many times while I was praising Jesus, the Holy Spirit led me to pray for specific people groups and nations that had never crossed my mind before. Through worship, God was giving me His heart for the world.
Praise increased my ability to hear the Holy Spirit. I have always felt confused about whether I am hearing from the Holy Spirit or just imagining it. Praising God for His attributes has brought more clarity. When I am fully engaged in worship, it is easier to discern the Holy Spirit’s voice. The same thing happened in the early church. As the believers were worshiping, the Holy Spirit instructed them to set apart Paul and Barnabas for the work of ministry (Acts 13:2).
The changes I experienced when I began to praise are not coincidental. They are universal for all who become people of praise. So I challenge you to become more intentional about praise. Take the 20-minute worship challenge for a month, and see if it doesn’t change your life as it did mine. I promise you it will bring you into deeper intimacy with God.
Beck Harling is a writer and frequent speaker at women’s conferences. She is author of Finding Calm in Life’s Chaos (NavPress). Someday she would like to travel to Belize. In the meantime, she enjoys going to Starbucks, shopping with friends, and hiking and playing games with her husband and kids.