Talking to Yourself When You Worship

By Mark D. Roberts

April 6, 2018

Praise the LORD, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Psalms 103:1


When we worship, we communicate with God. We thank God. We praise God. We express our love for God. God is the true receiver of our worship.

But there are times when we might talk to ourselves when we worship. At least that’s what we see modeled in Psalm 103.

A teenager looking at his reflection on a shimmering wall.This glorious psalm begins with what we might call “self-talk.” The psalm writer, identified here as David, speaks to himself: “Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name” (103:1). The Hebrew word translated here as “soul” does not mean “some small part of our inner being.” Rather, the soul is that which binds together all that we are. When the psalm writer says, “Praise the LORD, my soul,” he is not saying, “Let something inside of me bless the Lord.” Rather, he is saying, “Let all that I am bless the Lord”—a point that is made clear in the following phrase, “all my inmost being, praise his holy name.” The psalmist is inviting and urging himself to praise God with all that he is, using every part of himself.

Wouldn’t you like to praise God this way? I would! All too often, when I’m worshiping the Lord, whether in church or in my private devotions, I find that part of me is focused on God and part of me is focused elsewhere. “Glory be to the Father.” That man in front of me is pretty tall. “And to the Son.” I wonder where we should eat after church. “And to the Holy Ghost.” Maybe one of my children is texting me, but I silenced my phone. Rats. “As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.” I can’t wait to get home and take a nap. “World without end. Amen. Amen.” Oh, oh. It’s almost time to pass the peace. I don’t know that man sitting next to me. I wish I weren’t so much of an introvert.

I know that God is worthy of my wholehearted worship. And I also know that my soul—my whole inner being—needs to praise the Lord for its own sake as well as God’s glory. So, as I begin to worship, whether with my community or by myself, I am encouraged to talk to myself by echoing Psalm 103: “Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name!”

Something to Think About:

Do you find it difficult to worship God with all that you are? Why?

What helps you devote your full self to praising God?

What makes it difficult for you to offer all that you are to God?

Something to Do:

The next time you gather with your church for worship, repeat Psalm 103:1. Coach yourself with some self-talk. And then, ask the Lord to help you offer all that you are in worship.


Gracious God, my heart longs to praise you with all that I am. You deserve my full attention, my all-inclusive worship. And I need the peace that comes when I focus fully on you.

Forgive me, dear Lord, when I am divided in my worship, when part of me looks in your direction and part of me looks elsewhere. Help me, I pray, to give you all that I am, to love you with heart, soul, mind, and strength. May all that is within me, every part, bless your holy name. Amen.


Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
The Lord Remembers We Are Only Dust

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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