Why Our Worship Service Songs Can’t Cause Worship


Cause and Effect is a relationship in which a person, action or thing makes another thing, action or event occur. A cause must always precede an effect in order for that effect to occur. So the effect is then a consequence of the cause.

God’s revelation (cause) is when He offers us a glimpse of His activity, His will, His attributes, His judgment, His discipline, His comfort, His hope and His promises. Our response (effect) is the sometimes spontaneous and sometimes premeditated reply to that revelation…worship.

A model for this cause and effect worship understanding is found in Isaiah 6:1-8. The holiness of God is revealed (cause) to the prophet Isaiah and his natural worship response is contrition (effect), “Woe is me, for I am ruined” (Isaiah 6:5). God revealed his mercy (cause) and Isaiah’s worship response is service (effect), “Here am I. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

If our worship responses are the effect, then it is not possible for those worship actions to also be the cause. What we sing or how we sing it can’t cause a response because it is the response. The cause…God’s revelation can’t be generated by the effect since the effect is a response to the cause. So as good as our various worship actions are, they still can’t cause worship to occur because those worship actions are the effect.

Our worship actions may prompt, remind, exhort, prod or encourage more effect but they can’t cause cause. We can acknowledge the cause but we can’t generate it. We can respond to the cause but we can’t initiate it. We can celebrate the cause but we can’t create it.

He has called us (cause) out of darkness into His marvelous light that we may declare (effect) His praises (1 Peter 2:9). The Father is seeking (cause) the kind of worshipers who worship (effect) in spirit and truth (John 4:23). God Causes…We Effect.

Worship is our response to the overtures of love from the heart of the Father. It is kindled within us only when the Spirit of God touches our human spirit. Forms and rituals do not produce (cause) worship, nor does the disuse of forms and rituals. We can use all the right methods (effect), we can have the best possible liturgy (effect), but we have not worshiped the Lord until His Spirit (cause) touches our spirit.[1]


[1] Adapted from Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1978).


One Response to “Why Our Worship Service Songs Can’t Cause Worship”

  • Olumide Agboghoroma Says:

    We might get ensnared in the ‘chick-and-egg’ dilemma if we overemphasize the cause and the effect dimensions of worship. Rather than thinking in a linear way about the cause (revelation) and effect (response) of worship, I consider worship as a complex and cyclic process. It is driven by the Holy Spirit such that cause may lead to effect; effect may triggers more effect; and effect may be a precursor to another cause to worship.
    Beyond the logic of worship, useful as it is, let us simply enjoy it and celebrate the triune whose person, worth, ways and works are unsearchable/unfathomable – as Eliphaz (one of the poor counselors of Job), the sweet Psalmist (David) and Apostle Paul, among others, tell us (Job 5:9; Psalm 145:3; Romans 11:33). Just worship the One true God that is worthy of eternal adoration, praise and thanksgiving. Shalom!!!

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