How To Worship In The Spirit – Part 3
We have seen through the second section of this book that a worshipper must be passionate about God. We have learnt that the tongue of a worshipper moves mountains. We have seen that a true worshipper will rise above the lethargic influences of the flesh, to worship by the leading and in-filling of the Spirit of God. All of these are thoroughly scriptural and may result in great power in and through our worship. Yet were we to end this section entitled “A Blueprint for Worshippers” now, I feel we would still miss the very essence of worship.
What I have outlined so far could be considered as the scriptural scaffolding to a worship life. But there is a heartbeat that must be found. A core commitment of intimacy with God. A sense of deep and holy surrender to the Father. Without such all else could be just “a clanging gong” in the ears of God, and perhaps those around us. We have all met those “worshippers” whose fervent dances are performed more for our eyes than God’s. Those babblers in tongues who would much rather “pray” than obey. The cowardly “worshippers” who seek permanent languid refuge from the real world and its needs, by endless so-called worship. To engage in the form, while never finding the essence, is just empty religion.
Spiritual Worship and Spiritual Warfare
Also, most of the points made so far in this section of the book, about the blueprint of a worshipper, are to do with the worshipper and how he or she can impact the heavens and the spiritual environment around about in worship. It is about worship that seems to pray, intercede, and infect the atmosphere with God’s presence, bringing about events like those seen in biblical times. Some would call it spiritual warfare.
You see, to me, worship is often prayer, and prayer is often worship. To praise, using words of life and passion that expand the Kingdom, is an act of war on the dark forces of the enemy.
But now I want to speak not of the loud cries and passion that sparkle like electricity through the skies as we worship, “binding” the enemy as Psalm 149 shows us; rather I want of speak of the heart of worship. The intimacy of our union with God. The throne room of God, where worship is more about relationship, and less about warfare:
In opening this section of the book I spoke of two prisoners who both held a deep devotion to God and his purposes, so much so that they were found worshipping in the direst of human circumstances. Their cry of worship rose above cruelty and pain, loneliness and death itself. I also spoke of my friend Rita, who brought God’s glory into the African bush in the face of violence and aggression. These acts of worship come from a heart based not on formula or noise, but on devotion to an intimate knowledge of God. These are men and women who have “travelled” in worship to the feet of God. People who have been held in God’s arms, have sought his face and heard him whisper in their ears. These are men and women who have been to the throne of God in the spiritual realm and can never be the same again.
The Throne of God
In the book of Revelation we find a third and final application for the scripture we are studying which states we should “worship in spirit”:
“I was in the Spirit and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it” Revelation 4:2
Just like John in Revelation, I believe when we worship in Spirit we come before the very throne of God in heaven.Much scripture backs up this mind-blowing concept:
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence” Hebrews 4:16
“Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place… let us draw near to God” Hebrews 10:19
Do you realise what the Most Holy Place is? It is the very throne room of God. Jesus once entered God’s throne room in order to make a way for New Covenant believers like you and me (Hebrews 9:24). When he died, the veil guarding his throne room was torn in two (Matthew 27:51) and Jesus made the way open for us to commune with God in all his holiness and utter intensity. Heaven was open. The throne room was accessible.
When Isaiah saw the Lord in all his glory in the sixth chapter of his book, the Seraphs cried to one another “Holy, holy ,holy”. The word “holy” here means “Unapproachable!”. The Seraphs were warning Isaiah “Don’t come near! Stay away! God is too pure and awesome for you.”
But Isaiah lived under the Old Covenant, where only the high priest could approach God’s throne. Today, with the sacrifice of Jesus that took the punishment for our sins, the writer to the Hebrews boldly declares, “Enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened… through the curtain!” Hebrews 10:19-21
In effect, God now cries out from heaven “Approachable, approachable! Come near – as near as you can”. He wants you to run into the intensity of his presence, knowing the wonder of his shed blood that has assured you a seat in the Court Room of the Universe, the True Tabernacle of Heaven, the Throne Room of God.
Rather like the prophet, who prayed for his servant’s spiritual eyes to be opened so he could see into the spiritual realm, my prayer is that you would see this reality: As you worship in church gatherings, know that though your physical eyes may see seats, books, people and musical instruments, in spirit and reality you actually stand before the throne of God. As you worship in your car, at home, at work or in school, you are welcome in the arms of the Father, at the mercy seat where his glory dwells. His presence is no more present anywhere else in the world, or indeed the universe, than with you as you worship. Approach him then, with confidence, and discover the true essence of all worship.
Quieten your Soul
I have spoken much in previous chapters of noise, dancing, sacrifice and fervour, as I believe these are often missing ingredients in western worship. But it must also be said that true worship must involve much reflection, wonder and quietness of soul in order to find the wells of worship bubble up from deep within.
I have spoken of rivers of worship, but before any river can burst from our bellies, there is always the quietness of drinking from God’s Holy Spirit. This is something quite different to the exuberance of spiritual warfare and praise: and if we are to be balanced and mature, we must understand that our worship will have both noise, and quietness.
Some noisy worshippers (me included) love to quote the Jericho story when supporting their thesis for shouting – and I’m all for that. But we mustn’t forget that six days of complete silence preceded the single shout. Quietness and contemplation in obedience to God are vital to prepare our souls for the battlefield of prayer and praise.
So come boldly to the throne. Kneel quietly, perhaps with no more than a groan or whisper of awe. Spend 70% of your worship time listening to God’s voice and waiting for the rivers of praise to bubble up from within you. Make sure that what flows from within you is a genuine stream of adoration, and not just the empty banging of words, that come from no deeper than your voice box, and rise no higher than the ceiling.
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