Getting ourselves immersed in worship is important. For worship brings down God’s presence and paves the way for effective service.
We need to sit at Jesus’ feet, enthralled by His presence and not asking for anything. His presence, in itself, is the reward. And, out of this intimate relationship with God, good works will spring forth. We need to be like Mary first; and then, spontaneously, we will be able to serve like Martha (Luke 10:38-42).
Jesus told the Samaritan woman he met at the well that they who worship God must worship inspirit and truth (John 4:23). He stressed that the place of worship is not so critical as compared to worshipping God correctly (John 4: 21).
What then is true worship?
Worship is a reflection of man’s attitude of humility and submission. Man responds to God’s majesty, love and mercy with reverence and adoration.
The New Testament Greek word most often translated to “worship” is proskuneo which means “bow down before” or “fall down before”.
Though posture can assist us in worship, we can worship God whether we are sitting, standing, supine or prostrate. Of course, when we bow down or fall down prostrate, we better reflect submission and dependency; adoration and reverence for God become more spontaneous.
Whilst a congregational setting facilitates worship, every believer must, first of all, see himself or herself as an individual coming before God in worship. An ability to sing, play a musical instrument or compose music may help us to personalise worship. The accompaniment of recorded or live music may lift worship to another level.
However, we need to recognise the fact that true worship is possible even when all these “frills” are absent. Even if we are tone deaf or are stricken with hoarseness due to a throat infection, we can still worship God. It is not about the music, ambience or our voice but our heart’s attitude.
A majestic sunset etched against the horizon or a gigantic waterfall like the Iguazu Falls can leave us in awestruck wonder. Such fascinating sights in nature prompt us to spontaneously worship God the Creator.
However, to worship the personal God, we have to believe Christ died for our sins and choose to obey Him. When that happens we are “born again” and receive the Spirit of Christ into our lives. Our ‘spirit man’ become sensitive to God. We are able to call Him, “Abba Father.”
If there is unconfessed sin in our lives, we need to repent first. Sin breaks our fellowship with God, rendering our worship to mere words and songs without any substance.
If we have not sorted out our priorities in life, having one foot in the world and the other in God’s kingdom, then our worship becomes shallow. Our mind needs to be renewed (Romans 12:1-2) before we can worship God with an undivided heart. A carnal man who wants to have the best of both worlds will not be able to experience true worship.
The image of God that we hold in our mind must also be correct: God is loving and merciful as well as holy and just. Though He is quick to forgive our sins, He will hold us accountable if we take abuse His grace and continue to live in sin. If we only entertain half-truths about God—that He is always gracious and loving, no matter how we live our lives—then we are worshipping a “God” we have created ourselves, not the true God. Worshipping a ‘God with man-made attributes’ is tantamount to idolatry.
Derek Prince, the famed Bible teacher, taught that, out of the six wings of the seraphim (a type of angelic being), only two were used to fly. The rest of the wings merely rested—two covered the face and two covered the feet (Isaiah 6:2). That is why, he stressed, we should emphasise worship much more than service.
Sometimes believers have misplaced priorities. We get restless, wanting to flap our wings. We want to serve Him with little or no worship in our lives.
“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” — WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM. To glorify God through service, man has to first enjoy God’s presence in worship.
Worship must precede service. To serve before worshipping God is like putting the cart before the horse.
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