Since last summer, we have been exploring the subject of worship and have found it to be one of the most important things a Christian can learn to do. A.W. Tozer said of worship, “Worship is important because it’s the reason Christ came; the reason He was crucified; and, the reason He rose again.” Worship is the means by which we are changed into Christ’s image. In my own life, daily worship has become a priority because it’s my link to intimacy with the Father and the union of our spirits.
The key to worship, however, is that it must be done “in the spirit” and not “in the flesh.” John 4:24 tells us that “God is a spirit; and those that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.” In other words, worship is contingent upon cleansing - the putting off of self and the putting on of Christ. Flesh cannot enter God’s presence. (If you haven’t had a chance to read our previous articles on the heart-cleansing process, be sure to see our little book, The Key, which explores these steps in detail.)
Once we have put off our sin and self, however, then we can proceed to the Holy Place where we can meet with the Lord. I’m reminded of the ritual that the priests of Solomon’s Temple went through (twice a day) in order to enter God’s presence in the Holy Place. If you recall from our past newsletter articles, after the priests washed their hands and feet at the Lavers, sacrificed at the Brazen Altar and immersed themselves in the Molten Sea, they went back into the Holy Place where they put off their old, soiled garments and put on their brand-new white ones. This, to me, is symbolic of what happens to us when we put off the old and put on the new - we simply are exchanging lives with Christ. We give Him ours; He, then, gives us the beauty of His holiness. It’s at this point that we receive the boldness to then enter His presence.
Hebrews 10:19 and 22 confirm this, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus...Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”
This is the time that the priests in Solomon’s Temple sprinkled incense over the hot coals of the Incense Altar in the Holy Place, fell on their faces and worshiped the Lord. In Revelation 4:8 and 11, the saints and the elders do the same. “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was and is and is to come...Thou art worthy, O Lord to receive glory and honour and power; for Thou has created all things and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” And it’s the same with us. Psalm 95:6-7 encourages us to, “worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand...”
The Holy Place of our Heart
Once we find ourselves in the Holy Place, then we must do whatever the Lord leads. Men have told me that at this moment, they often are so overwhelmed that they just stand in awe, whispering Christ’s Name over and over again. Others have said they sing. Even though, in the natural, they have no singing voice, before the Lord, they can’t help themselves.
As for me, after I’m cleansed, I then sprinkle incense over a candle and prostrate myself on the floor before the Lord. Now, there’s nothing special about lighting a candle, sprinkling incense or lying on the floor, except that to me it represents my love, my adoration and my “being one” with my Lord.
I put ear phones on and play my favorite worship music. Even though, I too, cannot hold a tune naturally, there just seems to be an intrinsic bond between music and worship. Music is the doorway to our hearts. (Ephesians 5:19) Psalm 100:2 even tells us, “[we are to] come before His presence with singing.” Music and worship just go together. I either sing along with the music, pray in the Spirit or just lie before Him in silent adoration. I’m not asking Him for anything nor seeking to hear Him; I’m just there to adore, revere and worship Him.
Being in His presence often reduces me to tears, not that I’m sad, but simply because I’m overwhelmed with joy - the joy of being in His presence. The Creator of the universe is before me and He cares about me. It’s staggering when you really think about it! As Psalm 16:11 tells us, “...only in His presence is fullness of joy.” I feel surrounded by the thought of heaven and the Lord sitting before me. Worship is like the bridge between this world and the next. When we worship, we can almost touch His unseen kingdom.
For those few moments in His presence nothing else matters. I am lost in the joy of His majesty. My spirit is raised to heights that it has never before known. Just as the incense and the cloud of Divine Glory were intermingled above the Golden Altar in Solomon’s Temple, for those few moments I, too, am intertwined with my Lord in the Spirit. I can now understand one of the definitions of “worship” a little more clearly: “being on fire and completely consumed in His Love.”
I am reminded of 2 Chronicles 5:13-14 which says, “It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music and praised the Lord, saying, For He is good; for His mercy endureth forever, that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord. So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God.”
In a small way I feel exactly as those priests did.
Now, not all my encounters with the Lord are as dramatic. Sometimes, when I worship Him, I don’t feel a thing, but, by faith, I still know He is there, that He hears my praises and that He is pleased. Other times, my meetings with Him are electric!
Using Scriptures in Worship
Often I will repeat 1 Chronicles 29:10-13 over and over again:
“Blessed be Thou, Lord God of Israel, our father, forever and ever. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine. Thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come of Thee, and Thou reignest over all, and in thine hand is power and might; and in Thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now, therefore, our God, we thank Thee and praise Thy glorious Name.”
Or, I will repeat certain phrases from Revelation:
“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” (Revelation 4:8b)
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing....Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” (Revelation 5:12-13)
“The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever...We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because Thou hast taken to Thee Thy great power, and hast reigned.” (Revelation 11:15 and 17)
“Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. ...For Thou only art holy...” (Revelation 15:3-4).
“Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be...” (Revelation 16:5)
I let the Spirit lead me and do whatever He tells me. Sometimes I raise my hands, sometimes I’m on my knees, and, sometimes, I’m flat on my face, silently holding the Lord in the Spirit.
One of the things we discovered about worship is that it releases blessings in two directions. Not only are we loving God, but at the same time, He is extending His Love back towards us. In other words, it’s a two-way communication. We humble ourselves and acknowledge that He is everything to us; He, then, makes Himself known by revelation, insight and love. Thus, part of the joy of worship is the divine revelation that often results. In one of Dave Hunt’s newsletter, he comments: “Appreciation begets worship, and the Lord responds by revealing Himself in ever greater measure in a fellowship of love that overflows in fruitful witnessing.” 1
The bottom line is that intimacy must precede insight.
God gave us worship so that we might become partakers of His highest purposes. Yes, Christ, Himself, is the major focus of our worship, but as we worship Him, He often reveals His plans and His purposes for our lives to an even greater degree.
In worship, the Lord desires to:
- make His presence known,
- reveal His person to us,
- reveal His power to us,
- reveal His eternal purposes to us,
- reveal His personal plans for our lives.
When I am worshiping, I find it very necessary to have my Bible and my journal close at hand. Again, God works differently in each of our lives. But, for me, He seems to make His presence known through His Word. Thus, if I don’t have my Bible handy to look up what He has just told me or my journal ready to write down what I’ve heard, by the time I’m through worshiping, I will have forgotten everything.
Bob Sorge, in his book Secrets of the Secret Place, confirms the same thing: “I am personally convinced that I cannot hold onto what God gives me apart from writing it down...Those who retain what God gives them will be given more.”
Our Response to His Love
God’s desired response for us (when we are in His presence) is that we:
- Have an open and contrite heart so that we might see ourselves as we truly are, and experience contrition, brokenness, sorrow, shame, grief, repentance and honesty.
- Submit and dedicate ourselves to Him to an even greater degree - yielding, surrendering and sacrificing ourselves to His will, His Word and His authority. (Isaiah 6:8; James 1:21-25)
- Have an urgency to lay our burdens, requests and intercessory prayers at His feet and be propelled to pray even more for the lost, the divisions, the injustices, the diseased, the pain and the difficulties others are experiencing. (Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Timothy 2: 1-3; Mark 14, Matthew 26, Luke 22, John 13 and 1 Corinthians 11)
- To love, adore, enjoy, honor, exalt, magnify and praise Christ even more than we are doing now.
- And, finally, that we might go forth and glorify and reflect Him in all that we think, say and do.
Overcome by “the Joy of our Salvation”
The bottom line is that experiencing the manifestation of His presence - through His Word, through His Spirit and through just knowing He is present - fills us with indescribable joy, no matter what circumstances surround us!
This kind of encounter is what restores the joy of our salvation. Experiencing His presence, regardless of our situation, is what “brightens us up,” gives us hope and allows us to go on. Nehemiah 8:10 confirms that this rejoicing and this joy are what give us the strength to carry on in the midst of trying times.
Why is worship important? God tells us it’s important because we become like what we worship. In other words, we reflect what we worship. Thus, if we truly want to become more Christ-like, we need to learn to worship Him more. The Lord is our example and we are told to “emulate Him.” Jesus worshiped the Father continually! So, that’s our goal. That’s our purpose. And, that’s our reason for living.
Now, here’s the big question: If worship is the most important thing a Christian can learn to do; if it’s the door to intimacy and the key to our joy and strength, then why do most of us worship the Lord only on Sundays? What about the other six days of the week? What happens to our intimacy, joy and strength then?
“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek Thee: my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see Thy power and Thy glory, so I have seen Thee in the sanctuary. Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee. Thus will I bless Thee while I live: I will lift up my hands unto Thy Name.” (Psalm 63:1-4)