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Prayer. Worship

"The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth: for such doth the Father seek to be His worshippers" (John 4.28). It is evident from the Lord's own words that God desires worship. The old English word is "worthship," and that helps us to understand what the Lord had in mind.

The expression is frequently used in a very loose and unscriptural way, such as, public worship, a place of worship. These and similar expressions are very misleading as well as being unscriptural. Indeed we can go further and say that the meditative reading of the Bible is not in itself worship. Praying in its narrower form is not worship. The singing of hymns is not worship. All such exercises have their place in the life of a believer. Indeed they are, not only proper but are essential to one's spiritual development, but to call such exercise worship is to lose sight of what worship is, thereby robbing our own souls and at the same time robbing God.

What then is worship? Surely it is acknowledging the worth of God Almighty, the soul bowing before Him in adoring contemplation. It is a helpful study to go through the Bible noting the usage of the word. Moses, we are told, "Bowed his head toward the earth and worshipped " (Exodus 34.8). "Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship" (Joshua 6.14). The first reference in the New Testament is where the wise men "came to worship Him," the Child Jesus. Over and over again we read, "they bowed their heads and worshipped," or "they fell down and worshipped."

Someone has said that "In prayer we are occupied with our needs, in thanksgiving we are occupied with our blessings, in worship we are occupied with the Lord Himself." It is not that we should be less occupied with our needs, neither is it that we should be less occupied with our blessings, but that we should be more occupied in adoring contemplation of that One before whom those celestial beings did homage, crying,-" Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts" {Isaiah 6.8). We must not think of worship as merely a matter of words. Is it not rather seen in that utter prostration and absolute devotion of oneself to the Lord? The Psalmist experienced something of this when he sang-" In Thy presence is fulness of joy" (Psalm 16.11).

Worship then is not only a duty but is a blessed experience, a privilege full of blessing. There is nothing so uplifting to the soul, no deeper joy than that which springs from the adoring contemplation of an all-loving God. "One thing," said David, "... that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the House of the LORD ... ,to behold the beauty of the LORD" (Psalm 27.4).

When the Lord says that we are to "worship in spirit," we judge that to be the "Holy Spirit." Philippians 3.8 bears this out,-"We are the circumcision who worship by the Spirit of God." The only worship acceptable to God is the worship initiated and inspired by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Even with a child of God the flesh penetrates into the most sacred sphere of our lives. It is so easy whilst we are seeking to please God, at the same time we can be seeking to win credit to ourselves. We may be very earnest in our worship, very sincere and orthodox and yet not be acceptable to God. The Father seeketh worshippers, who worship in spirit and have "no confidence in the flesh." So that to worship aright we must realize the dangers of the flesh and our utter dependence on the Holy Spirit of God. Just as the only walk that is pleasing to God is the "walking in the Spirit," so the only worship acceptable to God is the worshipping in spirit, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We must also worship "in truth." There is so much that is mere form and no reality in it. The head may bow, but the spirit does not bow in true adoration before God. It is as the Holy Spirit brings to our remembrance the glories and excellences of the Lord Jesus and our hearts are moved, then it is that we worship. To those who have acknowledged the Lord in the waters of baptism and have been added to a Church of God, such have the privilege of remembering the Lord in the breaking of bread (1 Corinthians Ii. 23-26). As we "do this " surely our hearts are moved at the grace of the Lord Jesus, stooping as He did "from Godhead's fullest glory, down to Calvary's depth of woe," to that cruel death of the cross. And God the Almighty, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, looked down from high heaven, yet restraining Himself saw and heard all-the arrest, the mock trial, the buffeting, the spitting, the jesting, the scourging, the crown of thorns, the reed, the purple robe and then the crucifixion. And why? The marvellous thing was that not only was God silent, but it was He who ordained it all; and moreover the Lord Jesus endured it, in order to take away sin, yours and mine. He "bare our sins in His body upon the tree" (1 Peter 2.24). We might well cry with the prophet, "0 that mine head were waters and mine eyes a. fountain of tears!" Utterly confounded at the love of God and the grace of the Lord Jesus, our hearts overflow in adoring worship.

Knowing then that God is seeking worshippers, realizing the blessedness and preciousness of worship, having seen that God must be worshipped in spirit and truth may the gracious Holy Spirit stir our hearts that God shall receive the worship for which He waits. The question was asked in a past day-" Will a man rob God?" Alas, it is often so.