Call To Worship
By Dave Butts
it interesting what Christians choose to fight about? We fuss and argue with
each other over church structure, the role of women, the Holy Spirit, the Second
Coming, etc. I guess it should surprise no one that Christians today are also
fighting over worship. Hymns, choruses, praise songs, guitars, drums, raised
hands, dancing…all have become the new battlefield for many a congregation.
I have a confession regarding my stance in this battle. I love worshiping
the Lord! I love hymns and choruses…fast and slow…loud and soft. I’m as
comfortable in an acapella service as in one with a band leading. I’ve even
been known to slip into a time of real intimacy with the Lord with Gregorian
Chant going on in the background.
It’s time we moved beyond personal preference and doctrinal
watch-dogging and begin to find out what God expects of us in worship. The only
place to go is God’s Word. As we study together, we will first determine what
worship is. Next, we will examine the Lord’s perfect plan for worship.
What Is Worship?
For those desiring to obey and please God, worship is perhaps first of
all a command. God says that we are to worship Him. Psalm 96:9 is one of
hundreds of verses that give the command to worship: “Worship the Lord in the
splendor of His Holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth.”
Over and over the command is given to worship God. These commands are not
put forth because God is having a problem with keeping His ego in check. Far
from it! It is the common sense command of the Creator to His creation, helping
us to understand our place in His plan. Worship helps us to acknowledge God’s
rule in our life and puts us in our proper place before our Creator. “Come,
let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker” (Ps.
Worship is ultimately then, more than a command…it is our response to a holy God. It is young Isaiah seeing God revealed in the Temple and experiencing awe in His presence. It is Israel seeing God destroy the armies of Pharaoh in the Red Sea and worshiping him in song and dance. It is the Apostle John seeing Jesus on Patmos and falling at His feet as though dead.
When we come into God’s presence in worship, there should be a response
to Him, or else we are merely going through the motions of worship. The
particular response is often dependent upon the personality of the worshiper.
Some will cry and others will laugh; some will kneel, while others will stand;
some will sing loudly and others will whisper their songs of praise. However,
there is ALWAYS a response to the perceived presence of God.
It is important for us to understand at this point, that worship is also
a lifestyle. It is not simply a matter of going to a worship service, although
that is important. Paul points this out to us in Romans 12:1 when he says that
we are to “offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to
God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”
Worship is not just what happens when the church meets together. It is
what happens each day as we offer ourselves to the Lord.
The most powerful worship occurs when a congregation of believers who
have been worshiping the Lord individually all week long come together.
How to Worship
The clearest biblical teaching on how to worship comes directly from the
mouth of our Lord as He discusses proper worship with the Samaritan woman at
Jacob’s well. In response to her questions about the proper place of worship,
Jesus tells her that it is not a matter of place, but rather a matter of the
heart. He says in John 4:24, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship
in spirit and in truth.”
The first heaven-ordained characteristic of worship is that it must be
done in spirit. It is in the realm of the spirit that we worship. Never a matter
simply of the emotions, or even of the will, worship goes deeper to touch us at
the level of the spirit. This means that worship must move beyond the surface
things that we do. Acts of worship become a connection between the Spirit of God
and our own spirit. This sort of connection is spoken of in Romans 8:16: “The
Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
In worship, we must allow God’s Spirit to touch our spirit. For God is
spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth. Acts of
worship such as singing, praise, prayer, etc. need to be seen as ways to bring
us into His presence to allow Him to have His way with us. Here are some
The music that we use in worship should bring us into His presence. Note
that I didn’t select a particular style of music….but simply music that
draws our spirits to a place of worship. The prayers offered in worship are
prayers that reach His throne…prayers that are filled with awareness of the
presence and majesty of God. In worship there will be times of meditation for
the purpose of seeking the face of God…times
of quietly waiting before Him.
Whether we are speaking of the aforementioned acts of worship such as
singing, praying, meditation, or of worship that involves giving, service or
sacrifice, the focus should not be on what we receive out of it. It is not a
matter of how we enjoy it. Worship in spirit should not be self-seeking.
Instead, it should be a glorious act of self-abandonment that focuses on
God and delights in who He is.
Jesus also told us that true worship must be in truth. The object of our
worship must be true. There is a lot of worship that goes on in the world today.
From religions such as Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, to pseudo-Christian cults
like Mormonism or Jehovah’s Witnesses, worship is pervasive. The great lie
today is that there are many ways to God and the only thing that matters is
one’s sincerity in one’s act of worship. Jesus presents a stark contrast to
that prevalent view. He says, “I am the way.” He states with authority,
“No one can come to the Father but by me.” Worship, to be true worship, must
have as its object the One true God…Father, Son, and Spirit.
It is in the area of worship in truth that the Word of God takes
precedence. It is in the pages of God’s Word that we see God’s
self-revelation. To come to know God in truth we must become a people of the
Book. I love to see the Bible as a meeting place with God. It is vital to
worship that we come to the Bible, praying as we read, “Lord, teach me today
more about You. Show me today more of Your love, power, grace and majesty.”
If you would like to read more articles by Dave Butts, please visit www.harvestprayer.com.