It’s not uncommon for there to be grumbling about a lengthy worship service. It’s usually blamed on a long sermon. Maybe the scriptures or prayers were too lengthy.
Now consider Nehemiah 8. The Israelites were assembled after their long exile. Ezra brought out the Book of the Law of Moses and stood on a high platform. When he opened the book, all the people stood up. While they were standing, Ezra read from daybreak until noon. “Ezra praised the Lord…and all the people lifted their hands and responded, ‘Amen! Amen!’ Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord…” (Nehemiah 8:6, NIV)
Ezra, Nehemiah, and the Levites expounded the word. When the people understood the Law, they were moved and began weeping. But their teachers said: “‘This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’…Then all the people went away to…celebrate with great joy…” because they understood the words and did what the words told them. (Nehemiah 8:10-12)
This lasted for seven days. Even the week-long revivals some of us experienced were nothing compared to the period of worship in Nehemiah.
It’s unlikely we would ever read, listen, and worship as long as the Israelites did in Nehemiah 8. We haven’t been in exile or suffered terrible hardship. But some of our brothers and sisters in war-torn countries around the world have experienced that kind of suffering. Maybe they would welcome the opportunity to engage in the kind of worship described in Nehemiah.
But is that what it takes? Exile? Unspeakable suffering? Let’s conduct a worship service exactly like that in Nehemiah 8 — and see what happens.
I don’t know if Nehemiah 8 contains the longest worship service, but if we could experience the joy the Israelites did each time we worship, I don’t think we’d grumble.