The apostle Paul warned that we must be aware of the enemy's devices (see 2 Cor. 2:11). This is important when it comes to praise and worship. What are the traps the enemy sets to hinder our worship, ground our praise and distract us from loving God completely and passionately? Let's take a closer look.
1. Pride. Pride will stop true praise and worship. It is by far our greatest stumbling block to worship. If you are not careful, you can even become proud of your humility. Being proud of our gifts will lead to a showy display in order to impress others and reveals a secret craving for applause.
2. Self-will. The ugly twin of pride is self-will. One of the saddest stories in the Bible that deals with self-will is the story of Aaron's two sons, Nadab and Abihu (see Lev. 7-10). Nadab and Abihu knew the commandments of God regarding proper worship. Yet they willingly disobeyed. As a result, they paid a very heavy price--death.
Worship must have its foundation in the Word of God. Self-will is not going to go unpunished in the presence of God. We must realize that no person can worship God as he pleases. We have to come to God on His terms, not ours.
3. Tradition. Traditions prompt us to expect things that are irrelevant to God's kingdom. Human tradition expects people to dress and act a certain way at church. But true worship isn't prescribed by tradition--it springs from the heart and is led by the Spirit.
4. Judgment. Tradition brings along his friend judgment. Those adhering to one tradition quickly judge and condemn those of another tradition. Even great worshiping churches fall into the traps of tradition and judgment. They start out worshiping from the heart, but after awhile they end up worshiping their own worship--and not worshiping God.
5. A critical spirit. The enemy loves it when people are critical because the trap of a critical spirit will keep a person from becoming a true worshiper. When we judge, condemn and criticize others, we build a wall that separates us from the presence of God. As long as we are pointing out the weaknesses of others, we don't have time to allow God to cleanse us from our own.
6. Ignorance. There is a correct and an incorrect way to worship God. When we have heard the truth, there is really no excuse for our ignorance. Lacking the spiritual knowledge to "worship in truth" not only keeps us from true worship, but it can also lead us into incorrect worship that has harmful side effects. But through knowledge of the living God, we can worship Him and receive rain from heaven to water us, sustain us and make us fruitful.
7. A religious spirit. A person with a religious spirit is one who refuses to have the fullness of God in his or her life. A religious person wants to control God instead of surrendering all control to God. True worshipers seek a relationship with God--not a religious system that claims to know about Him.
8. Unforgiveness. Forgiveness is not optional for the true worshiper. It is a requirement. God won't forgive us if we refuse to forgive others.
9. Complaining. Complaining provokes God's wrath. It constructs a wall of doubt and mistrust between us and the presence of God. Complaining focuses on a problem or a person instead of on Jesus.
10. Gossip. Not only does gossip hurt others, but it also distracts one's heart from true worship. In the midst of what should be worship to God, the entrapped gossiper is thinking about what he or she has just heard about another person instead of thinking about what God has just said.
These are but a few of the things that will interrupt the flow of the Holy Spirit. But it doesn't have to be that way. We have the power to break away from anything that would hinder true worship.
Sam Hinn is pastor of The Gathering Place Worship Center in Lake Mary, Florida, and author of Kissing the Face of God (www.charismahouse.com), from which this column is adapted.