The first and most well-known question of The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks the question this way: “What is the chief end of man?”
The answer: The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
What about spreading the gospel? Raising godly children? Caring for those in need?
Yep. But it would serve us well in all of our doing-ness to remember that the reason we were created is to bring glory to God. Yeah, yeah. We know that. Right?
Yes, we know that. In our heads. But somehow “bringing glory to God” often gets translated to what we do for Him. It’s easier to rely on our works bringing Him glory and honor, than to take the time to glorify Him with our attention and our worship on a daily basis.
It’s easier to rely on our works bringing Him glory and honor, than to take the time to glorify Him with our attention and our worship on a daily basis.
If my spouse were to run himself ragged doing things to please me, I might be thrilled with that at first. But if he continued to only “do the things,” and rarely paid attention to me or spoke to me, I wouldn’t be quite so happy. I would rather him do fewer things and devote more time to be with me. I would miss his attention.
Writer Evelyn Underhill puts it this way: “It is only through adoration and attention that we make our personal discoveries about Him…I think that if you have only as little as half an hour to give each morning to your private prayer, it is not too much to make up your mind to spend half that time in such adoration. For it is the central service asked by God of human souls; and its neglect is responsible for much lack of spiritual depth and power.”¹
Adoration and attention. God yearns for us to learn how to just quietly “be” with Him…how to know Him…how to enjoy Him. He doesn’t want desire or need what we do as much as He longs for a personal relationship with us.
How do we adore Him? We spend time quietly sitting in His presence. Not asking for anything. Just being with Him. We praise Him for Who He is, not what He has done. A great way to do this is to use a list of His attributes, and pray through them one at a time, thanking Him for who He is.
“For in [adoration] our soul recaptures, if only for a moment, the fundamental relation of the tiny created spirit with its Eternal Source; and the time is well spent which is spent in getting this relation and keeping it right. In it we breathe deeply the atmosphere of Eternity…we realize, and re-realize, our tininess, our nothingness, and the greatness and steadfastness of God.” ²
¹Evelyn Underhill, Concerning the Inner Life and the House of the Soul