So how do you get started? First, you must repent. The failure to worship God in spirit and in truth is not just an unfortunate lapse in spiritual enthusiasm, it is a sin. To love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind is not the greatest suggestion in the Law, it is the greatest commandment (Matt. 22:36-40). Confess your sin, clear your conscience, and get ready for step two––prepare to worship God.
Acceptable worship doesn't happen spontaneously–– you must prepare yourself. Let's look at Hebrews 10:22. "Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." That verse begins with the phrase "let us draw near"––it is our call to worship. What follows are four checkpoints to help you prepare for worship.
The Checkpoint of Sincerity –– We are to draw near "with a sincere heart." That speaks of a genuine heart, devoted to pursuing God. It is hypocritical to be worshiping God when you are really apathetic or preoccupied with self. Draw near to God with your whole heart.
The Checkpoint of Fidelity –– We are to draw near "in full assurance of faith." The Hebrews were clinging to Old Covenant forms of worship to find acceptance before God; but the coming of Christ put an end to ceremony and sacrifice. Each person had to be willing to say, "I'm coming to God in full confidence that I am not saved by a system of ritual. I come fully by faith in Jesus Christ." You too are to be fully assured that God accepts your worship, not because of what you do, but because of what Jesus did in providing atonement for you.
The Checkpoint of Humility –– We are to draw near to God "having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience." That is, you come to God with the knowledge that you are unworthy to be in His presence. The only reason anyone can come to Him is the blood of Christ, which was shed on the cross as a cleansing for sin.
The Checkpoint of Purity –– We are to draw near having "our bodies washed with pure water." That refers to the daily cleansing by the Word of God. The process of sanctification ferrets out sinful thoughts and exposes sinful behavior. Before you worship, confess the sins that God uncovered through His Word so you can draw near in purity.
Every time you worship, whether corporately or privately, try preparing yourself by asking these questions:
- Am I seeing God anew in the Word through discovery and meditation so I am compelled to draw near to Him?
- Am I being sincere? Is my heart fixed on Him and undivided?
- Am I fully assured that only faith in Christ can bring me to God's throne?
- Am I coming humbly, realizing I can draw near only because of what Christ has done for me?
- Is there any sin in my life I haven't dealt with?
Perhaps you've been attending church for years, but you've never really drawn near to God, nor have you sensed His nearness––even in your own private devotions and prayers. Now you know, or perhaps have been reminded: God has redeemed you so you can worship Him. It is the purpose for which you were created. Continue living in the light of the wonders you iscover about God in His Word, and ask Him to teach you more and more by experience what it is to worship Him in spirit and in truth. That is a prayer our great God will delight in answering.
What is worship? Let me give you a definition: Worship is "honor paid to a superior being." It means "to give homage, honor, reverence, respect, adoration, praise, or glory to a superior being." In Scripture, the word is used indiscriminately to refer to the homage given to idols, material things, or to the true God. So the word in itself is not a holy word, it only describes honor given to a superior being.
The common New Testament word for worship is proskuneo, which means "to kiss toward, to kiss the hand, to bow down, to prostrate oneself." The idea of worship is that one prostrates himself before a superior being with a sense of respect, awe, reverence, honor, and homage. In a Christian context, we simply apply this to God and prostrate ourselves before Him in respect and honor, paying Him the glory due His superior character.
Essentially, then, worship is giving - giving honor and respect to God. That is why we, as Christians, gather together on Sunday. We don’t gather to give respect to the preacher or those in the choir, we gather to give honor to God. The sermon and the music are just to be the stimuli that create the desire in our hearts to honor Him.
So, if you attend church for what you can get, (i.e., to "get a blessing"), you’ve missed it! When we gather together to worship the Lord, our focus is to be on giving to Him, not getting from Him. Worship is a consuming desire to give to God, and it involves the giving of ourselves, our heart attitudes, and our possessions.
Drafted by Charles E. Whisnant 01 08 07