Worship and Healing
. . . train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. [1 Timothy 4:7-9 (NIV)].
Faith establishes the conceptual idea of spiritual healing, scriptures provide the blueprints, and worship, our devotional acts, supply the bricks and mortar. Acts of worship are reverential feelings expressed in devotional action.
Praying, charity, fasting and performing pious exercises harmonize our mental state within a Divine Reality and promote the spiritual healing process. We are hardwired to worship.
Our body, mind and spirit are in harmony only when expressing Divine praise. Our inner feelings are in accord with our actions only when we render such reverence and adoration.
The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. [Psalm 27:4-6].
Worship in Small Dosage
Some saintly sages, monks and nuns adopt a life of solitude, labor, poverty, fasting, charity and prayer. Their ascetic practices often provide high standards for the lay adherents who follow less demanding religious practices.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will, all I have and possess; you have given me, I now give it back to you, O Lord; all is yours, dispose of it according to your will; give me only your love and your grace; that is enough for me … [Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, #234]
However, Divine worship and service encompass a broad range of activities and practices and do not require extreme measures. We are not asked us to afflict, mutilate or torment ourselves. All that we need to do offer our best effort with sincere devotion.
Do your duty to the best of your ability, O Arjuna, with your mind attached to the Lord, abandoning worry and selfish attachment to the results, and remaining calm in both success and failure. Selfless service is a yogic practice that brings peace and equanimity of mind. [Bhagavad Gita 2:48]
For some individuals, piety and righteous conduct may pose immense challenges, requiring considerable discipline and willpower. This is not because God has placed great burdens on some of us. It is because we have fallen so far from a healthy spiritual state that even small acts of kindness are alien to us.
Both Scripture and experience teach that it is we, not God, who determine the degree of intimacy with Him that we enjoy. We are at this moment as close to God as we really choose to be. [J. Oswald Sanders].
Spiritual mutation occurs when our moral and spiritual affirmations drastically change. Our essential character is then transformed into one no longer in intimate relation with its Creator, no longer willing to worship.
But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. [John 4:23].
Covenant for Healing
Our worship does not benefit God but it does change us. Worship establishes a Divine relationship that quenches our thirst for His presence.
Praising God, giving thanks and obeying Him are all aspects of worship that heal us. Our bowing and prostration show our humility and submission. Such sincere adoration produces a dynamic response deep within our heart that strengthens us.
Our affirmation of faith is a continuing vow to obey, worship and trust God, in exchange for security, for an anxiety-free life and, ultimately, for salvation.
The word “covenant” is related to “promise” and “payment,” and also to “coming together mentally.” Spiritual healing offers a meeting of the mind by which we personally agree to engage in prescribed sacred practices. When we worship, alone or in congregation, we are fulfilling our part of the bargain.
I will come into thy house with burnt-offerings; I will pay thee my vows, Which my lips uttered, And my mouth spake, when I was in distress. [Psalm 66:13-14 (ASV)].
By formal rituals and devotional worship, we transfer the Divine into our material existence, and gain access into a Divine Reality in which spiritual healing is natural.
Recite what is sent of the Book by inspiration to thee and establish Regular Prayer: for Prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds; and remembrance of Allah is the greatest (thing in life) without doubt. And Allah knows the (deeds) that ye do. [Quran 29:45].
Worship as Therapy
Spiritual healing starts by correcting a temporary mental disorder, but continues into treating a human condition we all suffer. The spiritual foundation upon which we lean provides constant therapy that sustains and maintains us.
It is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men. [C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, p. 93].
Our dedicated worship serves to exercise our spiritual muscles while fortifying our psychological fragility. These exercises shape the pattern of our devotional life and provide a psychological structure for our relationship with the Divine.
It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. [Deuteronomy 13:4].
The error-ridden mind cannot return to childish innocence. It can, however, regain its confidence and direction through the spiritual healing offered by God’s mercy. By connecting to the Divine Reality through sincere worship, we restore contact with God, and we resume the sacred relationship that we, ourselves, severed.
Verily, man is bound to lose himself unless he be of those who attain to faith, and do good works, and enjoin upon one another the keeping to truth, and enjoin upon one another patience in adversity. [Quran 103:2-3].
- Alexis D. Abernethy, Worship That Changes Lives: Multidisciplinary and Congregational
- Richards, P. Scott, “Spiritually Oriented Psychotherapy”
- Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health. “Spirituality and Mental Health: Current Research and Future Directions“
- Counseling Muslims : handbook of mental health issues and interventions, edited by Sameera Ahmed, Mona M. Amer. 1st ed.