What are Your Primary Worship Languages?
In his book Sacred Pathways, Gary Thomas describes nine ways that people typically worship and experience God. Just like we tend to love others in certain ways (see The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman), Thomas suggests that we tend to approach God in certain ways.
Identifying our primary worship languages helps us to engage in practices and find spaces that foster intimacy with God.
How do you prefer to worship God? (If you're not sure, here's a link to a free online assessment.)
Naturalists experience God in a special way when immersed in God’s creation. Going for a walk in a forest or sitting beside a creek helps them sense God’s presence.
Sensates love God with their senses. As a family, we have celebrated a Christian version of the Passover feast in preparation for Easter. The food and drink tell a powerful story of God’s deliverance. Sensates love this kind of worshipful experience that engages their senses.
Traditionalists approach God via the well-worn paths of tradition and ritual. For them, ancient Christian practices have deep meaning. For some, liturgy provides a framework in which they can worship God in a deep way.
Ascetics find that solitude and simplicity help them draw near to God. Going on prolonged prayer retreats and engaging in other solo worship activities help them connect with God.
Activists love to advocate for a worthy cause. They worship God as they seek to address social concerns like poverty, racism, and human trafficking.
Caregivers love to serve others. For them, being able to come alongside people is a worshipful experience.
Enthusiasts love God with mystery and celebration. They often prefer expressive forms of corporate worship like raising their hands. As God moves in their hearts and as they experience His power, they draw close to Him.
Contemplatives long to simply be in God’s presence. God is their best friend and they love to adore Him.
Intellectuals approach God with their minds. They love to go deep in their understanding of God and His desires for them.
My primary worship languages are Naturalist, Ascetic, Caregiver, and Intellectual. I love to go for walks or jogs in God’s creation (often by myself, which is the Ascetic coming through). I also experience intimacy with God when I care for others. As an Intellectual worshiper, I find that some of my richest times with God are when I go deeper in my understanding of God through His Word.
Knowing my primary worship languages has helped me to engage in practices that draw me into God’s presence. Experimenting with some of the other worship languages has helped me to experience God in different ways (and to relate to those who prefer to worship God in those ways).
I would love to hear your thoughts about your primary worship languages (feel free to leave a comment below).