Have we gotten worship backwards?
Our church closed out a sermon series in Romans 8 with an extended time of worship after the sermon. We've become accustomed to having our 'time of worship' happen before the sermon most of the time in our worship services. Singing before you hear the sermon can be a great way to prepare your heart to hear from God - I'm not in any way arguing against that. At the same time, hearing the Word of God can stir true worship in you that makes you want to sing in response to what you have heard. It was a great change of pace.
How I said it during my sermon was: "Proper theology will lead to proper worship." Too often, we use worship as an avenue to prepare our hearts to hear from God (which by the way, is worship) instead of simply giving praise to God for who He is no matter what our hearts are feeling at the time. It is knowledge of God that should drive worship; knowing more about Him leads you into deeper worship.
When did worship become a means to an end rather than an end in and of itself? When did worship become a tool for us to accomplish something else? If you read through many current worship songs today, many of them focus on what we are doing in our worship. For example, we sing a lot of lyrics that go something like: Lord, I give you my heart, or I surrender to you, or I'm crying out, or I fix my eyes on you. Of course, all of those are great things to declare and I'm not in any way suggesting we stop saying those things. I just think we need a whole lot more of songs that declare truth about who God is.
After all, worship is supposed to be about exalting the One you are worshiping. Let's start singing truth about this God Who deserves all our praise, and I believe our hearts and emotions will follow. If you're singing about Jesus and His attributes, you won't have to say "I give you all I am" because it will become your natural response to the truth you are declaring. Truth will inform your heart and emotions rather than having it the other way around. After all, you can't truly sing "Lord, you're beautiful" if you haven't seen His beauty or know why He is beautiful.
By using worship as a means to an end, we often find ourselves with shallow worship. Worship must be an end in and of itself because it is in that moment that we are doing what we have been created to do: worshipping our Creator. But you can't truly worship if you don't know Who you are worshipping. So dive into His Word where He has revealed Himself and allow the Spirit of God to take the Word of God and drive you into genuine worship.