Distractions during worship? No problem.

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One of the beautiful things about the breaking of bread service is that there are periods of  silent worship between singing songs.

The periods of silence, helps me focus my thoughts on the Lord, and to bring my heart and mind and soul to worship Him.

However, its also during those silent periods that even the smallest of noises can become real distractions. For instance, in a quiet hall, its surprising how load the sounds below can sound…

  • clickety clacking high heel shoes
  • chairs shuffling
  • stuff dropping onto the floor
  • noisy air conditioning unit
  • the complaining child
  • toys
  • busy color pencils on paper
  • people whispering
  • plastic wrappers
  • etc.

Unfortunately, I have seen on many occasions, individuals who get quite upset by these sounds, and would turn around and glare angrily at the people (or the parents of the children) who are causing such sounds.

But does it have to be that way? Are our minds really that weak, that we cannot rise above the distractions and keep our minds focused on the Lord?

I think we need to become more resilient worshippers.

We must learn to be understanding.

Some parents have children who are unable to sit still during a meeting, either due to illness, impairment or simply its their nature. They are our family members too, and we must show compassion and help them. I’ve seen some parents struggle to keep their kids under control, and when people turn around and glare, it does not help the parents, but make them feel worse.

I’ve know of parents who left to other congregations because they felt the church was not ‘child friendly’. Its very sad when this happens.

Rise above the distraction

Its easier to blame others for being distracted, but actually in most cases, the fault is ours.
The sudden sound of something falling to the ground may divert our thoughts for a moment, but the sound only becomes a distraction when we let our minds linger on the “who and what caused the sound?”.

Don’t let your thoughts linger a moment longer on it, because its those lingering thoughts that ultimately distract us – we start wondering “why did it drop?”, “why do those parents allow their kids to play with such toys”, “don’t they know how to respect the meeting”, etc. Once we’ve strayed down that path, we have actually distracted ourselves more than the actual sound itself.

What if its an emergency?
Most sounds in church are easily recognizable and we can immediately know if it’s a sound that indicates an emergency or not. If its not an emergency, just ignore it and get back to the main order of business – remembering and worshipping the Lord.

The more you focus, the harder it is to get distracted.
I find that my mind is more easily distracted when its not filled with thoughts of the Lord Jesus during those silent periods. Little sounds, kids wanting your attention, easily gets the mind’s attention.
However, when my mind is fixed on the Lord, noises (even from my own children) can come into my ears and get dismissed as ‘unimportant’ or ‘later’ very quickly and does not grab my attention easily.
So keep reminding yourself on your role at the meeting – to render praise and worship to God in rememberance of His Son.

You *can* multitask
I consider it a great priviledge and responsibility as a man to be able to led by the Spirit to stand up and speak to God representatively for the congregation, or to share to the congregation something about the Lord Jesus.

I also have 2 children who find it hard to sit still during 2 hour meetings – they frequently want to get your attention – one minute they want water to drink, the next, they want to draw, then they want to color, after that they want to rest on your legs, later, they want to eat…

Its quite a challenge to keep your mind focused on the Lord and at the same time take care of the kids and keep them occupied so that they don’t distract others. But praise be to God, He helps me to keep focus on what is being shared while and to still be able to contribute something to the meeting every now and then.

So do ask God to help you to meet your children’s needs (where reasonable), as well as concentrate on direction the Holy Spirit is leading the meeting. God will help, but we also must take the effort to focus our thoughts.

At the same time, a lot of home training and reminders to the children before the meeting help the children to realise that they can help others to worship by being quiet and minding their own business.

Remember why you are there
In the Old Testament, the priests who serve in the Holy Place(not Holy of Holies) Temple would not stop their service to go out and investigate every noise or shout that they heard from outside the temple. They stayed focused on finishing their duties in the temple before going about other business. Its not that they were unaware of what was happening, but they realized that those things should not distract them from their duties.

When we as believers gather in God’s presence, we should be so overwhelmed by the fact the we are in the presence of the True and Living God, and that we are there as part of the priesthood fulfilling our duty to offer the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. With such a realization, little distractions should just fade into unimportance and out of our mind.

May your worship life take on a better meaning and value to the Lord.

Do you have any tips that can help us deal with less then perfect conditions for worship? Share them here.

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