Vertical Habits: Worship and Our Faith Vocabulary Showcase

Vertical Habits is a name given to the process of connecting words used in our relationship with people with words used to express these emotions to God. The biblical Psalms are the foundational mentor and guide in this vocabulary and grammar for worship.

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Faithful speech is central to the Christian life. God is not just interested in having us contemplate him or appease him. God is interested in the dynamics of life together, shaped by good communication. Just as words form our habits in relationships with other people, the words of worship can form the habits of our relationship with God and the way we live out our faith.  Vertical Habits is a name given to the process of connecting words used in our relationship with people with words used to express these emotions to God. The biblical Psalms are the foundational mentor and guide in this vocabulary and grammar for worship.

Key Insights

  • Wise is the congregation who seeks to more deeply understand worship and give voice to the multitude of emotions we express in worship
  • Wise is the congregation who studies, prays and sings the Psalms to give voice to all the emotions we express to God.
  • Happy is the congregation that carries the spiritual vitality and rugged beauty of the psalms from corporate worship into weekday living

Consider these eight parallels:    

 

Relational Words

Model Psalm

Worship Words

1

Love You.

Psalm 95

Praise

2

Sorry.

Psalm 51

Confession

3

Why?

Psalm 13

Lament

4

I'm Listening.

Psalm 119

Illumination

5

Help.

Psalm 86

Petition

6

Thank You.

Psalm 136

Thanksgiving

7

What Can I Do?

Psalm 116

Service

8

Bless You.

Psalm 103

Blessing

Web Resources

From our website

  • Words to Grow Into - by John D. Witvliet
    One of the ways we learn good communication habits with God is by participating in public worship.
  • Symposium 2012 - Shaped by the Psalms
    The Psalms offer us language to express gratitude, lament, confession, and praise in worship. Worship Renewal Grant recipients will describe how they studied and prayed the Psalms to help children and adults understand how the psalms help shape the ways we speak to God and to one another through words, music and the arts.

  • Vertical Habits: Relational Words that expand worship language
    Churches and schools that use vertical habits say it helps their communities develop worship habits that deepen their relationship with God and affect every part of their lives. See how their experiences can help enrich worship at your church or school.

  • Bob and Laura Keeley on Lament Psalms and Children
    After finishing an intergenerational grant project that focused on the Psalms, vertical habits and visual arts, Bob and Laura noticed that most kids know Psalm 23, and maybe one or two happy psalms. They describe the importance of giving kids a more fully orbed picture of life with God, so they can know psalms and know how to use them

  • Bringing Our Pain to God: Michael Card and Calvin Seerveld on Biblical Lament in Worship
    On any given Sunday, you may come to church glad, mad or sad.  You’re likely worshiping with people struggling to count their blessings. Meanwhile, it’s certain that somewhere in the world, God’s children are going hungry, falling ill, being persecuted, or denouncing each other from pulpits.  It takes courage and faith to move from conceptual agreement that lament belongs in worship to actually groaning with fellow believers. 

  • Practical Resources to help you teach the Vertical Habits
    Practical resources created by congregations and schools to help you teach the Vertical Habits in your congregation. Permission is granted to use these without any cost. We hope you will send us any resources you create for Vertical Habits.

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From other websites 

Vertical Habits and Psalms for All Seasons

The companion website to the publication Psalms for All Seasons includes resources to connect Vertical Habits and the Psalms.

A Journey Through the Emotions Psalm 139

New City Kids Church, a 2010 Worship Renewal Grant Recipient spent a year in the Psalms and Vertical Habits.  This inspiring video was created as a response to their learning to describe the spiritual transformation of teenagers through the lens of Psalm 139.

Granite Springs Church and Psalm 103

Granite Springs Church in California had a grant in 2008 to "... immerse the congregation in the Psalms through regular reading and memorization of the Psalms, a retreat, preaching, and pastoral care education that will teach people to pray all the emotions expressed in the Psalms."

Vertical Habits music, icons, and paintings:

Churches and schools that use vertical habits say it helps their communities develop worship habits that deepen their relationship with God and affect every part of their lives. See how their experiences can help enrich worship at your church or school.

Learn More

Additional Interviews

Worship Renewal Grant Recipients

Learn how our Worship Renewal Grant recipients have used the Vertical Habits in their congregations and organizations.

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