Over the last several months we have been exploring the subject of worship, its meaning, its application and its implementation in our lives.
We said that worship is the doorway to intimacy with the Father. It's a union of our two spirits - a bowing down of our selves and the receiving of His Life. In other words, worship is a two-way communication: we come into the Lord's presence by exalting, loving and adoring Him; He, then, makes Himself known by communicating His Love back to us through revelation, insight, joy and peace.
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 in truth."
Let's put all of this into practical application.
As we go, be sure to keep in mind the order of service of the priests of Solomon's Temple (that we studied) because it is our model here:
As you recall, after the Levites opened the Outer Court gate for the people to come in and worship, they immediately began to sing and praise the Lord. Then, the priests entered the Inner Court and first went to the Lavers of Bronze, where they washed their hands and feet.
After that they approached the Brazen Altar (or Holocaust Altar), where they sacrificed their animals in order to purge the sins of the people. Next, they immersed themselves bodily in the Molten Sea.
And, finally, they took a censer full of hot coals from the Brazen Altar, went back into the Holy Place where they changed their clothes, took some incense and sprinkled it over the coals at the Golden Incense Altar where God promised to "meet with them." (Exodus 25:22) Approaching the Golden Altar of Incense, they took off their shoes, prostrated themselves and worshiped the Lord in the "beauty of holiness." The priests did this twice a day.
Bear in mind, we as New Testament believers are not under the Law nor the Old Covenant, but under grace and the Law of the Spirit. So, I don't mean to imply that there's some sort of ritual or ceremony that we are required to do. There is not! However, I do believe that God has given us a "set of guidelines" and that by following these suggestions, in whatever way helps us achieve intimacy, we will not only make our devotional times more acceptable to Him, but also they will become an incredible blessing to us.
The most important thing we, as New Testament believers, can do is allow the Holy Spirit the freedom to direct us. Only He knows the "perfect way." Now, you have the same "Instruction Manual" as I do, so be sure to check out everything I share here. If it bears witness to you, then praise God. If it doesn't, then take what you will from these suggestions and formulate your own special time with Him. The most important thing is to not let another day go by without beginning to truly worship the Lord in spirit and truth.
My Private Worship Times
Now, let me share with you some of the specific things the Lord has led me to do in my own times of worshiping Him. Twice a day, usually before 7 a.m. in the morning and after 10 p.m. in the evening (after the phone has stopped ringing and after everyone is in bed), I set aside some special time to worship the Lord. This time has now become the most precious part of my entire day. The insights, the revelation, the joy and the Love that is received at these times gives my life fulfillment, meaning and purpose. It allows me to know that God cares where I am, He cares what's happening in my life and He cares about the outcome.
Knowing He loves me and that He wants to be involved in my life gives me the strength to carry on, no matter what difficulties I face. Just like Nehemiah says, "the joy of the Lord is my strength." I get so excited, I find that I can hardly wait for my next encounter with the King. Psalm 73:25 says it perfectly: "There is none upon the earth that I desire beside Thee."
The goal, of course, is to worship the Lord all day long - having our spirits in union consistently - but I know in my own life with all the hustle and bustle of my busy schedule and the onslaught of the world around me, the worship time that I set aside to be totally alone with Him in the morning and the evening is the most blessed of all.
Because I'm quiet and I'm listening, He has my full attention. Thus, when He speaks, I'm ready to hear. At the beginning of this special time, I pray and ask the Lord not to allow any thoughts to come into my mind that "are not of Him."
Entering His Courts with Praise
The first place I begin is with praise and thanksgiving, just like the priests in the Outer Court. I was excited to read that David Wilkerson, one of my all-time favorite pastors, also begins his times with the Lord by entering, as he puts it, "God's courts with praise and thanksgiving."1
Psalm 100:4 validates this: "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His Name."
And, Psalm 95:1-2, "O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms." See also Psalm 118:19 and Isaiah 26:2.
Some other wonderful Psalms for praising God are: Psalms 8, 9, 19, 32, 33, 34, 47, 48, 66, 89, 93, 96, 98, 100, 101, 104, 105, 111, 112, 113, 115, 118, 134, 135, 136, 138, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150.
The praise Psalms that the priests of Solomon's Temple actually prayed (as they entered the Court) were:2 on Sunday, Psalm 24; on Monday, Psalm 24; on Monday, Psalm 48; on Tuesday, Psalm 82; on Wednesday, Psalm 94; on Thursday, Psalm 81; on Friday, Psalm 93; and, on Saturday, Psalm 92. Look these up. They're great!
Praising God for Who He Is
It's helpful to know some of the specific names and characteristics of Jesus, so you can praise Him for who He is and for what He has done in your life. Meditate upon each of these names as you pray them. Again, always let the Holy Spirit guide you:
Alpha and Omega
Anchor of My Soul
Avenger of Blood
All and In All
Author and Finisher of My Faith
Bread of Life
Blessed Above All
Bright and Morning Star
Bishop of My Soul
Cornerstone of My Faith
Emmanuel (God with us)
Fountain of Life
Horn of My Salvation
Image of God
Lamb of God
Lord of Lords
Name Above All Names
Prince of Peace
Root of David
River of Life
Son of David
Son of God
Son of Man
Shepherd of My Soul
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Things To Be Thankful for
After I have praised Him, I begin to thank Him for all the things I can think of that He has done for me. The following are a few suggestions. Again, let the Holy Spirit add to your list:
Jesus, I am thankful:
For Your soon coming - my hope
For my salvation - for Your Life in me
For being Your beloved (whether I feel like it or not)
For my relationship with You - the freedom You have given me
For Your Strength, Your Love, Your Wisdom, Your Power
For Your presence - our intimacy, fellowship and communion
For Your discernment and guidance
For Your rest, Your joy and Your peace
For continually cleansing me by Your blood - Your restoration
For Your protection
For my spouse
For my children
For my family
For my friends
For my health
For my home
For my situation - no matter what difficulties I face
For what You are doing through me
For the people I work with
For my job
Remember that after the priests finished praising and thanking God, they entered the Inner Court and went through the ritual of cleansing. In like manner, before I can enter the Holy Place, I, too, must recognize my sin and self; confess and repent of it (and also choose to forgive anyone who has wronged me); surrender the things the Lord has shown me; and then replace them with His Word. (See Private Worship: The Key to Joy for the full explanation of the cleansing process.)
Personal Worship in The Holy Place
Once I have put off my sin and self, then I can proceed into the Holy Place where I can "change my clothes," just like the priests did. This is where I put on Christ - exchange lives with Him - and where I put on the beauty of His holiness. Our spirits have finally become united - I have put on His nature - and so I can now have the boldness to enter His presence in the Holy Place.
Hebrews 10:19 and 22 tell us, "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."
At this point, I picture myself carrying those hot coals (symbolizing my surrendered life) from the Brazen Altar right into the Holy Place and the Incense Altar where God has promised to "meet with me." (Exodus 25:22) Because I now have "clean hands (a pure heart)," I can worship Him not only in "the beauty of holiness," but also in spirit and truth.
"The hour is coming and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth." (John 4:23-24)
It was at this point that the priests sprinkled incense over the hot coals, fell on their faces and worshiped the Lord. In Revelation 4:8 and 11, they 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. This is the time we bow down, offering our love, adoration and a life fully surrendered. Again, Psalm 95:6-7, "Oh, come, let us 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..."
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To be continued next month: "Divine Revelation." This article has been excerpted, in part, from Nan's book Private Worship: The Key to Joy. See here for details and other products from The King's High Way.