by Scotty Smith
“A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24
Dear heavenly Father, I am busted and convicted. Like many of your children, I’ve been guilty of taking a score card into public worship—assuming the right to be a jury and judge about the quality of worship created by those assembled in the chancel area, stage or platform (whatever the architecture of the church). If my liturgical agenda and theological credenda are satisfied, and if my musical palate and aesthetic sensibilities are honored, I give high marks. If not, I grumble to other grumblers, rather than engaging with those entrusted with the stewardship of your worship.
Forgive me, Father, humble me and keep me childlike before you. Exercising discernment and care in our most glorious, privileged and eternal calling is one thing. But entering a service of worship chiefly as a self-centered consumer is quite an ugly thing. How dare any of us assume the right to tell you what “great worship” is? What an arrogant and self-serving notion. Nowhere in your Word are you described as seeking “great worship.” But as Jesus clearly taught us, you are seeking true worshipers—those who worship you in Spirit and in truth.
You are seeking a doxological people—a people smitten with your glory, not a singular form or style—agospelized people, who love, worship, and glorify you with everything we have and are. May we be found to be just such a people—whether we assemble in a majestic cathedral, a high school auditorium, a high-tech worship center, a thatched roof hut, a neighbor’s great room, or an open air sanctuary.
Show us how to worship you in Spirit, Father—by your Holy Spirit and in the inner chambers of our spirit. We know lip-worship (mere form) and will-worship (mere duty) are not enough, for you are not honored when our hearts are far from you. By your Spirit, enthrall our hearts again with your holiness and your grace. Restore to us the joy of your sovereign salvation for us in Jesus. Bring us back to the love we had at first—love for you and for others.
Show us how to worship you in truth, Father—in keeping with the revelation of your Word. The truth about who you are and who we are; the truth about our desperate need for redemption and the perfect salvation you’ve given us in Jesus; the truth about how we can best love and serve you, and the tragic truth about how we often prefer our idols to you. Continue to free us from every wrong notion we’re ever had about you. Show us the difference between the traditions of men and the counsel of your Word.
We praise you for robing us in the perfect righteousness of Jesus—the only basis upon which we can worship you today, and we long for the Day when we will only give you perfect worship—the worship you deserve and in which you delight. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ holy and loving name.