prostrateWhen we think of the word worship in connection with our relationship with our Lord and Savior, what do we think of? What does this mean? How do we worship the Lord? Let us turn our minds to this thought.

What does it really take to worship? Is it by doing something outwardly, by performing some ritual or maintaining some right? Is it by an uplift of emotions, a soaring of the soul, when we can truly say we have worshiped? How is it that we must truly worship God today? What does He want us to do?

In the Old Testament, we know that men at first worshiped God from afar. In Exodus 24:1, when the Lord had descended on the mountain in great glory, He told Moses,

“Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar.”

They had no direct access to the Lord. They worshiped Him rather at a distance. Later in the history of Israel, they created first a tabernacle and then a temple that they could go to in order to worship God. David says in Psalm 5:7,

“But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple.”

But how is it that men today are to worship God? He does not descend in power on mountaintops, nor does He dwell in tabernacles or temples. Where do we worship Him now? And how do we do so? I believe we can find a hint in John 4, where the Samaritan woman at the well asked the Lord a question she had about worship. She said,

“Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” (John 4:19b-20)

So she had this question. Where was the proper place to worship God? Ever since the Assyrian captivity when those Israelites who dwelt in Samaria had intermarried with the foreigners that the Assyrians had brought into the land, the Samaritans had worshiped the Lord on a mountain rather than at the temple. Now she simply wanted to know who was right? Let us look at how the Lord answered.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.”
John 4:21

This must have been a stunning statement to her, that soon the time would come when worship of the Father would be carried out in neither place!

“You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.”
John 4:22

And at that time we realize that salvation was indeed of the Jews. Salvation was given only to Israel, and it was not available to the Gentiles. How thankful we can be, in the words of the apostle Paul in Acts 28:28, that today, “the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!”

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The Lord reveals to her that, once worship will not need to take place in either location, that true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. What does it mean to worship “in spirit?” Some think that something spiritual is invisible, but that does not help us, for how can we worship in invisible? Others say we have a spirit, but this does not help us much either, for how do we worship in it? The fact is that when the word “spirit” is used in contrast with soul and body, it means what you think in your head. It has to do with your intellect and what you know of God. Your soul, on the other hand, has to do with your emotions and desires, whereas your body, of course, is your physical form. Thus the Lord was revealing to this woman that the time was coming (and now is even in our day!) when the true worshipers would worship Him, not outwardly with their bodies, such as in rituals and ordinances, and not soulishly in their emotions or feelings. Rather, they would worship Him in knowledge, in what they know and believe concerning Him!

Paul speaks of this same kind of worship, worship in spirit. He says in Philippians 3:3,

“For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”

Those who please God today are those who worship in the spirit! This is worship in what you think about God. What place do you give Him in your thoughts? What opinion do you have of Him? How special and wonderful and holy do you view Him when you think of Him? What do you believe about Him, and what amount of respect and love and awe do you hold Him in? The fact is that this is worshiping in the spirit, and this is our true worship of the Father today.

So as we gather here this morning, let us all strive to worship God this way. For though our worship may spill over into our souls, uplifting our emotions, and though it may spill over into our bodies, as we do things such as sing and praise His name, the real worship He is looking for is in our minds and how we praise and honor Him by the thoughts we have of Him. Let us all uplift the Lord as we think on His wonderful greatness together!