Updated: Nov 6, 2021
How Do We Worship?
According to John 4:24, “God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” We cannot simply approach worship on our own terms. Both individual and corporate worship must be biblical and should conform to the will of God rather than to the whims of fallen humanity. Scripture makes evident that acceptable worship means approaching God on His terms and in the manner that He makes possible. “Even if every aspect of our worship is as close to the biblical ideal as humanly possible, we will fall short of true worship if our hearts are cold, or worse, unregenerate.”
Consequently, many believers worship in a way that may seem technically correct and yet is in vain, as it is not pleasing to God. The foundational biblical truth is that Christians must worship from a heart of faith and a heart engaged. Also made evident throughout Scripture, God condemns simply going through the motions in worship. Even the Old Testament prophets consistently criticized external religion devoid of devotion.  True worship must be a vertical experience, a human response to the divine Creator. Thus, the fundamental goal of worship is to be the glory of God rather than the pleasure of man.
Additionally, Christian worship is to be Spirit-filled. We must open our hearts to be “inspired by the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit, directed by the Spirit, purified by the Spirit, so to bear the fruit of the Spirit. Christian worship is Spirit-filled.” True Christian worship is also transformative and can radically change every aspect of human life. Michael Walters explains that it begins with the redemption and restoration of a human being to fellowship with God. Salvation, then, offers a transforming worship relationship with the Creator. As we make a choice to humbly submit to Him, learn His ways, and obediently serve Him, our lives are transformed. Worship stands at the center of a lifelong transformation process.
Paul writes in Romans 12 that in response to worship, we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. Here, he had in mind our entire lives. He also admonishes us, “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17 RSV). Worship, then, means adhering to the Gospel and responding with one’s whole life to Christ Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says this regarding worship and obedient living: “These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Mark 7:6; Isa. 29:13). True worship is faith in action, expressed in obedience and adoration in all of life.
There are four necessary components for proper worship. The first is confidence. Many Christians struggle to worship God properly because they do not have a high enough opinion of Him. In today’s culture, God has been reduced and changed until He no longer resembles the God of the Bible. Thus, Christians lack confidence in His character, resulting in a lack of respect. If we cannot respect Him, it becomes impossible to worship Him. The second component of worship is admiration. We can love God because we are grateful to Him and not admire Him for Who He is. We must remember that God is excellent beyond all else. Our love for Him must surpass the love of gratitude. We must admire His excellence.
The third necessary component of worship is fascination. Through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, there is a fascination and high moral excitement to know and worship God. Tozer describes fascination as being “struck with astonished wonder at the inconceivable elevation and magnitude and splendor of God.” The final component of worship is adoration. To adore is to love with all the powers bestowed on us. It is to feel, to love, to fear, to wonder, and to yearn. Although we should not follow emotion and feelings, in the absence of either in our heart, we are dead. True and Spirit-filled worship is to feel in the heart and express with humbling and admiring awe. True worship requires a humble heart.
I will close with one of my favorite quotes by A. W. Tozer. “When the Holy Spirit comes and opens heaven until people stand astonished at what they see, and in astonished wonderment, confess His uncreated loveliness in the presence of that most ancient mystery, then you have worship. If it is not mysterious, there can be no worship; if I can understand God, then I cannot worship God. I will never get on my knees and say, “Holy, holy, holy” to that which I can figure out. That which I can explain will never overawe me, never fill me with astonishment, wonder, or admiration.”
Footnotes:  Peterson, Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship, 283.  Michael Griggs, Worship According to the Word: An Introduction of the Regulative Principle of Worship (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2019), 8.  Ernest Reisinger and D. Matthew Allen, Worship: The Regulative Principle and the Biblical Practice of Accommodation (Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2001), 18-19, Logos Edition.  Ibid.  Block, For the Glory of God, Ch. 2.  Old, Worship: Reformed According to Scripture, 5.  Walters, Can't Wait for Sunday: Leading Your Congregation in Authentic Worship, Ch. 13.  Ibid.  Peterson, Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship 283.  Walters, Can't Wait for Sunday: Leading Your Congregation in Authentic Worship, Ch. 13.  Tozer, The Purpose of Man, 108.  Ibid., 114.  Ibid.  Ibid., 112.