Prayer and Worship
Two important items for new believers to learn about in becoming disciples are proper worship and intimacy in relationship with God. Prayer and worship, at times, can be one in the same. I cannot think of a time when they are separate. If we consider prayer to be communication with God, then certainly it is most often a form of worship. And to worship God for who He is would certainly be a form of prayer.
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
- a (1) : an address (such as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought
// said a prayer for the success of the voyage
(2) : a set order of words used in praying
b : an earnest request or wish
- : the act or practice of praying to God or a god
// kneeling in prayer
- : to honor or show reverence for as a divine being or supernatural power
- : to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion
- : reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power
also : an act of expressing such reverence
- : to express a favorable judgment of : COMMEND
- : to glorify (a god or saint) especially by the attribution of perfections
- a : an expression of approval : COMMENDATION
b : WORSHIP
I’ve heard it said that we worship God for who He is, and we praise Him for what He has done. That seems to me to be a good guideline.
It is through prayer and worship that we truly develop an intimate relationship with God. Time spent reading and studying Scripture is indeed good and necessary to gain knowledge of God, and who He is, to form a firm foundation on which we build our faith. Meditation on that knowledge can further deepen it in our spirit as it becomes more than mere head knowledge.
Time spent in prayer with God can acknowledge the facts, and ask questions of what we have yet to understand. This prayer, or conversation, is the establishment of a relationship between two parties, us, and God. There are many types and styles of prayer just as there are many types and styles of conversation or communication between two people. Each serves a purpose and contributes to the development of the relationship.
Time spent in worship takes that relationship to a new level of intimacy. The general knowledge is made more personal as we dwell on who God is and acknowledge Him through “respect, honor, or devotion.” To be intimate is to be of a very personal nature marked by closeness and familiarity with one another.
We know through previous studies, such as episode 16, “Who God Says I Am”, that God has a very intimate knowledge of us. Through prayer, worship, and knowledge of Scripture, we gain more intimate knowledge of God. Only through the prayer and worship aspects can this truly become a vibrant, intimate relationship.
Isaiah, a prophet of God, told the people how God would see His temple where the people gathered.
These I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a
house of prayer for all peoples.
Isaiah 56:7 ESV
Twice he mentions “house of prayer” in reference to this temple. While Isaiah was speaking primarily of the temple in which the people worshipped, I don’t think we would be in error to consider this as also being prophetic concerning the New Covenant believers. As we discussed in the series, “Building the Wall”, episodes three through eight, we are the living stones, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Are we not to be houses of prayer?
Jesus references this passage of Isaiah, and it is recorded in three of the gospels (Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46). He was decrying what the temple had become.
And He was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”
Mark 11:17 ESV
Jesus was also speaking of the physical temple, but the Holy Spirit had not yet been made available to all men as when poured out at Pentecost. Now we are the temple of Holy Spirit.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV
Prayer is so essential that we are instructed to pray always and continuously. This is not to say that we ought to be on our knees reciting prayers 24/7. We should, however, be in constant awareness of the presence of God as He is dwelling within us and always present with us. We need to learn to practice the presence of God which will benefit us in many respects. Paul affirms this passage in the letter to the believers at Corinth, in his letter to the believers at Rome.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Romans 12:1 ESV
I find it interesting that Paul says this is a form of worship, that is to show reverence to God, great respect, as “an act of expressing such reverence”. Some translations use rational service, or reasonable service, in place of the word worship in this verse. The act is the important thing here, which is a form of worship. This is one of many forms of worship.
The apostle Peter also affirms this as we discovered in the study “Building the Wall”, when he wrote of believers being living stones.
As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood,
to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:4-5 ESV
We are those spiritual sacrifices through Jesus Christ, our example, who gave Himself as the perfect sacrifice for us. Our worship is a spiritual sacrifice offered to God. We are to offer ourselves completely to God, which is our reasonable service as He is the One who redeemed us and forgave our sins, and has now offered us eternal life in fellowship with Him. We have good reason to worship God.
While speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus said to her:
“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those
who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
John 4:23-24 ESV
Often in our prayer times we ask God what His will is for our lives. Here is the starting point, worship. Worship in spirit and truth sets the standard by which we ought to live and the direction we are to follow. Our spirit longs for intimacy with the Father. Unfortunately, we give far too much attention to the soul and body. The soul being our mind, will, and emotion. The body being flesh and blood. The truth is that the soul and body ought to be subjected to the spirit, and our spirit subject to the leading of Holy Spirit, then we can worship in spirit and truth.
Other than the direction in general to worship God, I see nowhere that the spirit is commanded to worship God. I believe it has an innate desire and understanding to do so, as it is God who breathed into man the spirit of life. However, there are times when King David, in the Psalms, tells his soul to rejoice. We see keys of how we ought to worship throughout Scripture.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name; worship the LORD in splendor of holiness.
Psalms 29:2 ESV
Almighty God, being our Creator, is worthy of our worship and praise, for He is holy, and He calls us to holiness.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
Psalms 95:6 ESV
Here we see that we are called to a position of humility, both in physical positioning and in spiritual attitude.
“Let us go to His dwelling place; let us worship at His footstool!”
Psalms 132:7 ESV
We are to humbly approach God with our worship. We go to Him, and He ought not need to come find us.
And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and Him
only shall you serve.’”
Matthew 4:9-10 ESV
Jesus gave us the example of resisting the devil and of not worshiping the things of this world. As He says, it is written that we are to worship God only and not the idols of this world.
And He said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as
doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
Mark 7:6-8 ESV
Here we see a warning to sincerely worship God from our heart, our innermost being, our spirit. Worship that is mechanical, religious, or merely a tradition, is offered in vain. We are to worship in spirit and truth.
The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where He comes from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of
God and does His will, God listens to him.”
John 9 30-31 ESV
God hears the worship and receives the prayer of those who are members of the family of God. Following Christ gives us access to God through Him.
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
Hebrews 12:28-29 ESV
We are to offer worship with a heart of thanksgiving and an attitude of reverence and awe toward God.
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who is seated
on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for
You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created.”
Revelation 4:9-11 ESV
We are to give glory, honor, and thanks to God who is seated on the throne. God is on the throne and lives forever and He will receive glory and honor and power for all was created by Him and for Him.
And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen!
Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Revelation 7:11-12 ESV
All who are in the presence of the throne of God humble themselves. This is an example for us when we approach God with worship. They ascribe to God blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might.
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign
forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, “We give thanks to You, Lord god Almighty, who is and who
was, for You have taken Your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets
and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”
Revelation 11:15-18 ESV
All that lives, and all things, were created by Almighty God and will revert to Him at the end of days. The kingdoms of this world have nothing to offer because it is all His, not theirs, as He created all. We again see that all who are around the throne humble themselves and worship God. He takes back all creation and reigns for all eternity. Like those around the throne, we ought to have a healthy fear of the Lord as we enter into worship, and prayer.