In J MacArthur’s book “Worship – the ultimate priority”, he wrote that to worship in the spirit, there should be an overwhelming sense of the nearness of God. “Come near to God and He will come near to you,” says James 4.8. But how do we do this? We all face varying degrees of difficulty in experiencing this.
There are several ways in which we can worship in the spirit with overflowing hearts. First, we must be yielded to the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor 2.11 reminds us that if our hearts do not have the prompting of the Spirit of God, we cannot worship God! This is simply because this lack of prompting means we do not know Him, and thus cannot truly affirm the lordship of Christ. This also shows us that the foundation of true worship is salvation. If we get bored in church or if we don’t mind missing church altogether, it may be because the Holy Spirit is not prompting us. Let us examine ourselves on the basis of our worship.
Second, our thoughts must be centred on God. Worship is the overflowing of a mind renewed by God’s truth, a process called meditation. It requires us to focus our whole mind on one subject, concentrating reason, imagination, and emotion on one reality – the holiness of God. This, perhaps, is more challenging than most tasks, for in this age of exposure to mass media, the TV, radio, the Internet, WhatsApp, among others jostle for our attention, and we struggle to focus long on one subject.
Meditation is discovery – the insights from God’s truth, which results from time spent with God in prayer and reading His word. And meditation needs some hard practice.
To worship in spirit, we must have an undivided heart. Even king David, wielding the responsibilities of a ruler, sought to worship God with a steadfast heart. (Ps 57.7) Worship comes from a heart that is unwavering, resolute, determined and focused solely on God.
And finally, we must be repentant. No one can enter into communion with the awesome and holy God without cleansing and repenting. Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart. (Ps 24.3,4) Often, we may know of sin in our lives that needs to be confessed. Other times we may think we are all right in God’s sight but are not. David admitted in Ps 139.23.24 that he could not fully understand his own heart. Let us ask Him to cleanse out every corner of our lives and then the flow of worship can take place.
Ultimately, the main hindrance to us worshipping in spirit is when we set our needs, advantages and blessings above God. We must set self aside; in a spiritual sense, we must die to self and be lost in worshipping God. Then we will know what it is to worship in spirit.
Deacon Henry Leong