Praise and Worship
Praise and Worship can be practiced in many different ways and in many different places. It can make you feel a wide range of emotions from rejuvenation and joy, to deep sorrow. In India I have had the opportunity to experience many types of praise and worship. Most services I have attended in churches involve around 30 minutes of prayer and song. One person is on the microphone praying to God and giving thanks while a keyboardist, or sometimes a full band, provide musical support while others sing in the background. Usually during this portion of the service people are standing, deep in prayer with hands lifted to the sky praying to and thanking the Lord.
Being in the presence of so many people sending their personal prayers and thanks to God is a beautiful experience. There is no worry of who is looking or what a person nearby might hear or say while prayers are either quietly and solemnly or enthusiastically and loudly sent to God. The focus is unity in prayer, knowing the Lord is with the congregation and listening to every prayer is the uplifting and sacred to everyone. All present during this type of worship feel relieved when they are able to release their concerns in prayer as a group.
On the other hand there are very quiet and intimate worship services being held in small structures and homes. These can be anything from prayer meetings where one person or subject is prayed for or the prayers of everyone are lifted to God by the group. A small gathering can also be a full worship service held in a home with 4 or 5 people in attendance where the Bible is read, a message is given, and bread is broken; it has the same meaning for those who attend and is simply a matter of preference and availability when it comes to group worship. With both type of worship, there is usually time for testimonials and personal prayer from of the pastor. Rarely is there a rush, the average service will last a minimum of 2 hours.
A Christian Hospital campus is a great example of how there is always time for praise if you make a way. For example, every morning (other than Sunday) chapel service is held at Christian Hospital Mungeli. All of the nursing students and most of the staff join together for prayer, song, responsive reading, and meditation. This starts the day off on a positive note by celebrating and thanking the Lord. During birthday celebrations there is also prayer for the upcoming year and thanks for the years past, when a new car is purchased there is prayer for it and the safe journeys it will provide, no matter what the instance, it is always a great time to thank the Lord for the past and pray for the future.
What I have had confirmation in during my time with the Church of North India, is that every decision requires prayer, all new things in life deserve prayer, and that any time is a good time to worship and thank the Lord. There is no mandatory structure, no exclusions due to differences in beliefs, and no right or wrong way to praise and thank God. As long as you live with the light of the Lord as your compass and have faith, the love of the Lord will shine upon you and all those around you.