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What is More Spiritual: Praying or Sleeping?


What is more spiritual: praying or sleeping?  Another question logically follows and it is this: which activity can be defined as worship: praying or sleeping?  This is indeed a trick question, for if you say that sleeping is not worship then why are we made to sleep?  Why did God design our bodies to rest for an extended period of time in order for physical ‘recharge’ to take place?

The question of what is and what is not worship is akin to trying to define spiritual activity.  Often, our definitions of spirituality come from assumptions or appearances.  Therefore we say that worship consists of prayer, Bible reading, hymn singing, etc. and these are all forms of worship that an individual can express with their being before God as their hearts are right before him. Yet to only judge worship or spirituality on appearances is wrong.  To the believer, all activity is worship.  All activity is intensely spiritual; it is also evidently physical.

When we try to relegate worship to categories, we regulate what spirituality is and is not. Professional worshippers and others who are spiritual use the appearances of spirituality (through spiritual looking activity) to manipulate and control people by affirming or denying people’s worship. The result is a complex system of dualism that creates a wall of separation between everyday life and ‘spiritual acts’ or worship. This results in compartmentalization and perpetuates the myth that some things are more spiritual than others, hence, some people are more spiritual that others because they do said activities without fail or more often than another.

Let me give you an example.  I spoke with someone once who went to a different church’s conference one time. The church that this person comes from invites and encourages participants in their musical worship response to be expressive and uniquely celebratory (dancing, jumping, shouting, clapping, spinning, lifting hands). When the friend went to the conference of the church down the road he saw none of the activities that he was familiar with in musical worship.  Therefore, he made this statement to me, ‘none of them were worshipping.’

Before we consider the logic of that statement, we must look at the dualism and false understanding of worship present in the remark my friend quipped. First, he was saying that he knew the hearts of everyone in the room and that from the inside of their hearts, they were not worshipping God. Next, he was saying that worship is when someone shows a physical demonstrative expression (the kind that he is used to seeing and accepts) to church music.  Finally, he was exalting the greater spirituality of his way of worship over their way of worship by not affirming their worship as true.

So what is more spiritual: prayer or sleep?  The answer is that they are both spiritual. Neither is more or less spiritual than the other. When we dictate to people what is or is not spiritual we have enslaved them to a dualistic mindset.  We have also made an idol of spiritual activity.  Consequently, the ultimate judge of worship is the Lord.  Yet, another visible indicator of our worship is our actions. Our heart of worship is visible by our actions.  My prayer is that we would make worship visible again not through singing or attending church events, but by giving ourselves to those around us who need gospel of Christ whom we serve.

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