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Whitney urges students to have private worship
November 10, 2003
By David Roach
Private worship is an essential part of a healthy relationship with God, said prominent Christian author Donald Whitney.
Whitney, who spoke as part of the Institute for Christian Worship’s lecture series Oct. 14-15 at Southern Seminary, is associate professor of spiritual formation at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.
“How can once-a-week worship satisfy the heart of those who know and long after God?” Whitney asked. “How in the world can anyone walk out of a worship service where God has been exalted and they claim they have met with God and say, ‘Well, I don’t need anymore of that for a week?’
“How can you meet with God and not be compelled to want to meet with Him more often than just what is convenient once-a-week?”
Ministers are especially prone to ignore personal worship as they settle into the daily routine of ministry, he said.
Ignoring personal worship, however, will transform a minister into “the politicking and the ladder-climbing and the name-dropping and the prideful string-pulling sort of person that seems to take more delight in politics than preaching sermons or preparing for ministry,” Whitney said.
Statistically, only one of every 20 seminary graduates will remain in ministry through age 65, he said, and the attrition rate is due largely to a neglect of private worship.
Without private worship, ministers “will burn out because there’s no drinking from the wells of living water,” Whitney said.
“In private worship God reveals Himself through His Word, shining divine light upon the divine book so that we might find our minds instructed by God, our hearts encouraged by God, our hopes refreshed by God and our spiritual hungers satisfied by God,” he said.
“Here we can delight in God, sing to God, weep to God, pour our thoughts to God, confess our sins to God and feel the worth of God. When with God alone, we can rejoice in His forgiveness, revel in His goodness, thank Him for His blessings and bask in His love.”
In particular, private worship includes three essential elements, Whitney said.
First, private worship includes the intake of God’s Word. Reading, studying and memorizing the Bible are all vital parts of taking in God’s Word, he said, but meditation on the Scriptures is perhaps the most important activity of private worship.
Second, private worship includes prayer. Despite an active public ministry, Jesus took significant blocks of time to pray by Himself, Whitney said. As followers of Jesus, we must do the same.
Third, private worship includes worshipful song.
Whitney warned students, “The risks of rushing through life without resting beside the quite waters of daily worship, virtually unmindful of God, are many and great. But so are the benefits and blessings [of private worship].”