People have basic needs which can be met in worship. Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O God, and our souls are restless until they find their rest in thee.” In the depths of our nature, we have certain conscious needs which must be met. There are hungers of the human heart to be satisfied. These psychological necessities have been approached in various ways, including …
- The Sense of Mystery Seeks Understanding. People stand in need of knowledge. We approach God as the source of all knowledge. This act of communion may be spoken of as worshipful problem solving. Paul exclaimed, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Rom. 11:33). Again, he prayed that his fellow Christians might “have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:18–19).
- The Sense of Insecurity Seeks Refuge. In an age of uprootedness, people realize their need for refuge and stability. With the psalmist, we find ourselves saying, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (46:1).
- The Sense of Loneliness Seeks Companionship with God. In their estrangement and lostness, people feel the need to be loved. Worship is the search for this love that alone can satisfy our loneliness. Job cried, “If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling!” (Job 23:3). In genuine worship, a person comes ultimately to experience personal companionship with God. “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you” (42:5).
- The Sense of Human Belongingness Seeks Mutual Fellowship with Other Worshipers. The children of Israel sang a song of ascent going up to the temple, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD” (Ps. 122:1). In worship the early church felt itself to be one body in Christ. Joined and knit together in Christ, each believer worked to contribute his or her part in building up the body in the love of Christ (Eph. 4:1, 4–6, 16). It is by the grace of God that a congregation is permitted to gather visibly for fellowship in worship.
- A Sense of Grief Seeks Comfort. A person’s innumerable losses leave him or her with feelings of emptiness. Human beings grieve over their losses. “‘Comfort my people,’ says your God” (Isa. 40:1). In the worship of the living Lord who overcame all grief and loss, the Christian hears the words, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me … Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:1, 27).
Another has summarized human needs in religious experience as follows: the need to find fulfillment, to make life useful, to find great moments of inspiration, to have a real encounter with another person, to know one’s own identity, and to find superlative significance in a person, Jesus Christ, the ultimate meaning of life. These feelings of need are evidence of the presence of God and sure signs of his love for us.