“But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship Him that way.” –John 4:23
As believers, we’re called to worship God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23). But you may wonder, “How can I worship God daily? How can I worship God at home? How can I worship God wherever I am?” The good news is, you can—and worship is a powerful spiritual exercise in any believer’s life. It played a vital role in the Israelites’ winning their first battle after entering the Promise Land (Joshua 6). It was instrumental in Paul and Silas’ release from prison (Acts 16:24-26). It reflected the thanksgiving and heartfelt praise of God’s people throughout all 150 psalms, repeatedly allowing them to express their nagging fears, their miraculous feats and their enduring faith in the Him. These examples and more show just what can happen when God’s people worship Him “in spirit and in truth.”
What Does Worshiping ‘in Truth’ Mean?
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8, NKJV).
The first step in understanding how to worship is recognizing whom to worship. We worship the Father in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). When we worship in truth, we don’t worship empty philosophies that come from the world’s way of thinking (Colossians 2:8). Instead, we focus on the message and the truth of Jesus Christ. “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts” (Colossians 3:16).
Man’s way of thinking is not God’s way of thinking (Isaiah 55:8). In order to worship in truth, we must know the truth, which is found in the Bible. We must continually renew our minds to the Word of God by spending time studying every day (Romans 12:2). When our minds are renewed to what He says is truth (and not the world), we will be able to come to Him and worship Him in spirit and in truth.
Why Preparing for Worship Is Important
“Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize. When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you” (1 Corinthians 14:26).
The beauty of worship occurs in community with other like-minded believers. There is a depth and strength that comes when believers join together in worship, much like the Israelites did around Jericho and like Paul and Silas did in prison. In 1 Corinthians 14:26, Paul explains aspects of orderly worship. While orderly worship is not the immediate topic here, this scripture shows the importance of preparing for worship. The one singing needs to select the song, practice and prepare his or her heart before the service begins. Likewise, the one teaching needs to prepare to receive and deliver the message before the service.
The responsibility to prepare for worship doesn’t just fall to the worship team and the pastor. We should all come to the house of worship prepared—whether you are singing, teaching, preaching, speaking, prophesying, serving or receiving. Sunday worship is not a time to be entertained and expecting to be served, but it’s a time when God’s children gather to give Him honor and praise and to be strengthened.
So, how do you prepare for worship on Sunday? You prepare by getting your heart ready. Use the night before or early morning before the service to seek the Lord by practicing private worship, reading the Bible and praying. Fix your thoughts on the truth of Jesus and all He has done for you. Pray for the service and ask the Lord to help you receive from Him. You may even want to set aside a special time in your schedule to prepare for weekly worship.
7 Ways to Express Worship
For some, expressing themselves in worship can be uncomfortable, especially if they are new Christians. You go to some churches, and the congregation never stands up. They don’t sing, but they just sit and listen to the worship music. Others may sing but they don’t play instruments. Still others will be waving their hands, shouting and running around as the band plays every kind of instrument. Which way to worship is correct?
Well, the Bible outlines seven different types of worship, and they are all appropriate, with each having its place. Let’s examine them:
Barak–To kneel, to bless God, to bow down
“He will rescue the poor when they cry to him; he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them…. Long live the king! May the gold of Sheba be given to him, may the people always pray for him and bless him all day long.” –Psalm 72:12-15
Barak means to bow down to, or kneel before, the Lord. It communicates that the Lord holds a place of importance and helps us remember just how great He is. Barak is not done out of a begging attitude but rather an expectant attitude, because the Lord is more than willing and able to move on our behalf.
Halal–To be clear, to shine, to boast, to show, to rave, to celebrate, to be clamorously foolish
“David appointed the following Levites to lead the people in worship before the Ark of the Lord—to invoke his blessings, to give thanks, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel.” –1 Chronicles 16:4
Halal appears more than 110 times in the Old Testament. It translates as to shine, boast, rave about, celebrate or even to be clamorously foolish. Can you imagine a more wondrous noise raving about about all the Lord is and all He has done?
Shabach–To shout loudly, to command
“Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise!” –Psalm 47:1
Shabach means to shout loudly or command. Of course, it isn’t simply about being loud. Its focus is to worship the Lord with one’s whole being.
Tehillah–To sing praises, singing out of the spirit spontaneously
“But you are holy, O You Who dwell in [the holy place where] the praises of Israel [are offered].” –Psalm 22:3, AMPC
Tehillah means to sing unrehearsed, unplanned praises to the Lord. It can include adding words to an existing song or even singing in the spirit to the Lord.
Towdah–Extending hands, acting out of thanksgiving for what has or will be done
“But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” –Psalm 50:23
Towdah is a type of worship that includes extending your hands or raising them in thanksgiving for something that has been done or will be done.
Yadah– Extending the hands vigourously
“After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang: ‘Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever!’”
–2 Chronicles 20:21
Yadah means to extend your hands vigorously as in complete surrender.
Zamar – To touch the strings, to make music with instruments, mostly rejoicing
“Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp! Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes! Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals. Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord!” –Psalm 150:3-6
Zamar means to touch the strings. It involves rejoicing and making music to the Lord.
Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you about the seven ways to worship in spirit and in truth. How can you incorporate them into your personal and corporate worship? Remember, praising God is to be on our lips, or spoken (Isaiah 57:19), and we are to do it continually as a sacrifice (Hebrews 13:15). God promises that when we praise and worship Him, He inhabits those praises (Psalm 22:3), and it gives us strength to defeat our enemy (Psalm 8:2).
For an even deeper study into how you can worship God in spirit and in truth, check out the 7 Types of Worship Bible Study. Enjoy a deeper experience as you discover how to worship God daily, at home and everywhere you go, in spirit and in truth!
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