“But an hour is coming, and NOW IS, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship IN SPIRIT and TRUTH. John 4:23-24 NAU
In the Old and New Testaments, worship was either an act of bowing down in reverence to a greater one, or an act of service to God. In the book of Revelation, worship reaches a high level of praise and adoration, as Christ is revealed in His glory. If you want to experience worship, it is in the Book of Revelation that the highest forms of worship may be not just learned, BUT experienced.
The major moves of the Spirit in the 20th Century birthed within the Body of Christ the desire to enter into praise and worship, possibly more than at any time since the early days of the church. This has resulted in many well meaning, “This is how to do it, books, and teaching seminars, etc.” The sad fact is, that as the degree of anointing from the beginning of a particular move of the Spirit has ebbed, the Praise and Worship has tended to become void of life. It often becomes a professional performance, some thing “We do.” We DON’T “Do praise and Worship!” Either it flows from our innermost being, or it is as “a noisy gong or clanging symbol.”
All too often as soon as a bit of worship begins, it ceases because some want to rush into prophecy or other spiritual gifts. Prophecy and prophetic song can be held until the right time. 1 Corinthians 14:29-32 tells us that the operation of the gifts are not uncontrollable outbursts of the Holy Spirit, but rather the gifted one flowing decently and in order” that is, the order of the Spirit.
There are times when I have had the anointing to prophesy, and have held the prophecy for thirty to sixty minutes until it was time for it. True worship takes time! How dare we give a curtsy, a few words of praise, and rush off to do our own thing in the Presence of the King? After over sixty-five years of observation and experience, and of having seen the glory of the Lord manifested when His people flowed in the anointing, my heart is saddened with the lack of true spiritual worship.
In 1961 I traveled from Phoenix Arizona to Vancouver Canada, on my way to Kitchener Ontario Canada, in order to visit a church that had a reputation of wonderful praise and worship, as an outflowing of the Latter Rain revival. I attended the Sunday morning, evening pre-prayer, and evening services. There was much activity with all the right sounds, and actions, Yet, something was lacking, something bothered me. When the evening service ended, I remained for awhile as many had gone to the front to pray. Then I began to laugh as the Holy Spirit said to me, "What was once life, they are doing out of habit." They knew well what should be done, but were doing it in the flesh. In the 1980's I re-visited the same church and sensed a freshness of the moving of the Spirit. A young Assistant Pastor stood up and told the people that what they experienced from the revival of 1948 was not good enough for today. They needed a fresh move of the Spirit. We also do!
Many have learned the ways to perform church worship, or how to "sing in the spirit/Spirit,” but worship is more than the methods we have learned. No matter how diverse the various parts of the Body of Christ, or even the new or old songs we sing, it is our heart attitude that matters. Remember - true worship is more an attitude than an action! What is our motivation? Are we seeking blessing, “We will praise You Lord so that we can get something,”or is it a sense of the anointing we desire? God is not entertained by us doing our best. Someone has said the Bible tells us to make a joyful noise - not necessarily melodious. However, the Breath of the Spirit will bring it as a sweet smelling sacrifice to His heart.
Psalm 95:6,7 says, “Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.” It doesn't matter how excellent your performance, as long as it is God-ward and your heart is bowing down in adoration!
We all desire a sense of the revealed presence of God, for when He is revealed, He will speak or sing to His Church/Congregation. It is then that the anointing for the gifts of the Spirit becomes clearly evident, yet only to be exercised under His guidance. Many times have I been in services that began with a prophesy and then worship. Our Father longs for sons who will worship Him in spirit and truth, as it brings joy to His Father heart.
At 13 years of age, I woke up with a sense of the Lord's presence from what seemed to be a dream. In it I had been at one of the Pentecostal rallies we had in those days. The people were praising the Lord with great fervor, for this would bring the "glory" down and everyone would ”feel good.” Then, I saw Jesus coming down from a balcony at the front of the hall. Then He stood at the front just below the platform of preachers. Not one person saw Him! Eventually I walked toward Him and asked why no one was seeing Him. He replied, “They are too busy praising Me to see Me.” In time He sadly turned and walked away. This I have never forgotten. The center of praise and worship must be Christ, NOT feelings and effort!
There is a lack of real praise and worship today! Sadly, many have forgotten that worship is a Spirit induced expression of the heart/spirit of man flowing in adoration to our Father God for who He is, and not only for what great things He has done. True worship is based upon revelation, yet, in so many places today, a “round of applause”is given not only to some special singer - just like the world does - but is considered good enough for The Almighty Himself. Even when a prophetic word has been given, it is given a round of applause. Was what the Spirit said even heard? Was any of Christ imparted to them?
Psalm 47:1 is one of the few verses telling men to clap. “Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!” Then it continues with the forgotten, “Shout unto God with the voice of triumph!” Clapping as such, is neither right or wrong, but it has been substituted for worship. There are times when the Spirit may lead a congregation in spontaneous clapping, and there is an anointing in it. The concern is that most, if not all, clapping/applause is but an imitation of the world's way of doing things. Anyone can do it and feel right at home, regardless of their spiritual condition.
In 1996 I told my wife Dale, that I had reached the conclusion that I could no longer teach Old Testament patterns of praise and worship, because they were under the Old Covenant, and NOT of the Spirit. Certainly there are excellent lessons, and words studies, on praise in the Old Testament., and I am not suggesting these may not be taught. However, only taught as one would teach other Old Covenant principles like the Tabernacle of Moses to shed light on the Higher truths of New Testament order.
We must learn to interpret the O.T. in light of the NT, as George B. Fletcher wrote, "It is sound exegesis [explanation] to harmonize the Old Testament with the higher light of the New Testament, and not vice versa. Whatever Christ taught by His Holy Spirit through the Apostles is final, authoritative, and infallible. Therefore, we cannot go first hand to the prophecies in order to examine the New Testament by them. We must enter, rather, the prophecies with the New Testament key, by which they are opened to us, or by doctrine.” Amen! To that! This approach also applies to praise and worship, and to many other things. We would have less doctrinal problems if this principle was followed.
What I am saying is that the O.T. lessons on Praise and Worship must not be our pattern. Worship is now of a higher order - SPIRIT and TRUTH - not by imitating the patterns of the old. It is true that there were times when O.T. worship moved into a spiritual realm, as in 2 Chronicles 29:27, where the Song of the Lord began. However, the veil is now torn asunder and we no longer need to start in the Old Order for it is abolished in Christ.
The teaching about The Restoration of the Tabernacle of David, or what is called “Davidic worship,” with its' emphasis on objects and physical manifestations of praise has caused many to emphasize physical means as the way to activate the Spirit. God's order is, spirit, soul and lastly, body. See: 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and Luke 1:46,47. Note, Mary’s soul magnified because her spirit has - past tense. We must understand that the Tabernacle of David is not a system of Praise and Worship, it is the restored House of David. House meaning, family or dynasty. (See: Amos 9:11,12; Acts 15:13-17 and 2:25-36) The present reign of King Jesus is the restored Tabernacle of David, and we are partakers of it. Ours hearts, therefore, should flow in adoration to the One who is the Almighty King of David's House.
While much good may be found in the Psalms as examples of praise, it is in the Book of Revelation that we find a higher order as the vision of the ONE worshiped/praised is clearer. In Revelation, worship is always directed to our, and not just about Him. Worship is in the NT pattern of Corporate Worship. It is WE and US, not I and me/my. The EGO has been dealt with and the believer is now a part of the many membered Body of Christ. We see Christ, not as He was, but as He now is. We truly need a fresh revelation of Christ and His glory.
In 1984 I wrote, "When we have a revelation of the One we are called to worship, then like the Prophet Isaiah (Chapter Six), our eyes are opened, our heart is melted, we see ourselves as we in our flesh are. And most of all we see HIM for who HE IS. Worship denotes that the rebellion has ended in me. That the self-seeking, self-promoting is ended. Worship is understood as we enter into a revelation of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We see Him for more than what He has and can do, we see Him as He is!”
Worship is Christ glorifying and not for self attainment. In the early 1960's some of us sang a chorus that went like this: (Composer unknown)
True worshipers of the King, His worthy praises we now sing, In earthen vessels, here to dwell, And we ask NOTHING for ourselves.
Just what is, “worshiping in spirit and truth?” To worship "in Spirit" means that the worship flows from the regenerated human spirit, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit; not from the body or soul which may become involved in due course. "In truth" means that the "reality" of what is said or sung, is the truth as revealed by the Lord. The truth, or words sung, are birthed by the Spirit of God, and based upon the Word of God.
This teacher/writer believes that we will yet see a great move of the Spirit where there will be a rebirth of music. Tears will flow as hearts melt before our Lord, as HIS people sing songs and hymns of worship given by the revelation of the Spirit, with music of the Heavenly realm. Musical performances and the blasting of noise will end when broken hearts weep as the glory of the risen ascended Christ is revealed. May our prayer be, "Lord, cause our hearts to be prepared!" "Lord, hasten the day!"
Remember: Worship is more an attitude than an action. True worship is based upon revelation.