Try to remember one or two of the most meaningful worship times you have ever experienced. As I look back over my almost 54 years of attending church, revival meetings, retreats, and the like, two things stand out (aside from the moment I surrendered my life to Jesus).

The first found me sitting in a seminary classroom (of all places). My Old Testament (and later Hebrew) professor, David Garland, was in the habit of starting each class session with prayer. Unlike other instructors who might call on a student to lead us in prayer, Dr. Garland always voiced the prayer himself. Each day of class we would settle into our seats, and he would call us to prayer. Most of his prayers were fairly generic, but in their generalities the words spoken would, more often than not, address the specific high and low points of every student in class. In a one-minute public prayer, Dr. Garland could lift you to the throne of God and deposit you at the feet of the Master to revel in worship even as you got down to the business of dissecting the Scripture for academic purposes.

In a totally different setting, I found myself worshiping with about 800 teenagers at youth camp one year. The music was inspiring and uplifting at the first worship time on Monday of the week of camp. Following the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the camp preacher stood up, and instead of preaching a magnificent, relevant sermon from one of Jesus’s parables, he had us sing one more song and go to the cabins. The atmosphere of worship prevailed throughout the week, and by the time he offered an opportunity for response on Wednesday evening, scores of teens and volunteer sponsors were committing and re-committing their hearts and lives to Jesus.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. —James 4:10