Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney
Worship is focusing on and responding to God.
All worship of God — public, family, and private worship — should be based upon and include much of the Bible.
All the elements of worship prescribed in Scripture help us to focus on God.
Bible reading and preaching are central in public worship because they are the clearest, most direct, most extensive presentations of God in the gathering. For the same reasons, Bible intake and meditation are the heart of private worship. In worship we should also sing biblically saturated songs as both a musical declaration of God’s truth and a biblical response (praise and thanksgiving) to the revelation of God. Prayer expresses in a biblical way our worshipful devotion to and dependence on God as He is revealed in Scripture; so does giving.
You may be listening to a biblically sound sermon, but if you aren’t mindful of what it says about God or from God to you, you aren’t worshiping. You may be singing “Holy, holy, holy,” but if you aren’t thinking about God while singing it, you are not worshiping.
In one sense we can say that all things done in obedience to the Lord, even everyday things at work and at home, are acts of worship. But these do not substitute for the directly focused, exclusive-of-any-other-activity, biblically based worship of God.
No matter how spiritual the song you are singing, no matter how poetic the prayer you are praying, if it isn’t sincere then it isn’t worship; it’s hypocrisy.
Worship Is Done in Spirit and in Truth
The balance to worshiping in spirit is to worship in truth.
Worship according to the truth of Scripture means to worship God in the ways to which He has given His approval in Scripture. In other words, we should do in the worship of God what God says in the Bible we should do in worship.
So we must worship in both spirit and truth, with both heart and head, with both emotion and thought.
Every believer must cross a few spiritual deserts in his or her pilgrimage to the Celestial City. Some arid places may be traversed in an hour or a few days. Occasionally, however, you may be required to travel for weeks with an almost withered soul. Press on in worship.
Worship Is Expected Both Publicly & Privately
The blessing of a consistent, high-quality, personal devotional life doesn’t exempt you from worshiping with other believers.
How can we worship God publicly once each week when we do not care to worship Him privately throughout the week? Can we expect the flames of our worship of God to burn brightly in public on the Lord’s Day when they barely flicker for Him in secret on other days?
Worship Is a Discipline to be Cultivated
Worship can’t be calculated or produced. Instead it is evoked; it’s the response of a heart evoked by the beauty, glory, and allure of the object of your mental focus — holy God. And yet, we also consider worship a Discipline, a Discipline that must be cultivated, just as all relationships must be in order for them to remain healthy and grow.
Worship is a Spiritual Discipline insofar as it is both an end and a means. The worship of God is an end in itself because to worship, as we’ve defined it, is to focus on and respond to God. But worship is also a means in the sense that it is a means to godliness.
Godliness requires disciplined worship.
The rigid rehearsal of a routine is not the same as rightly practicing a Spiritual Discipline. Reading the Bible every day doesn’t automatically make me godly any more than reading The Wall Street Journal every day makes me a businessman.
Describing contemporary man, someone has said, “He worships his work, works at his play, and plays at his worship.” In defiance of this, will you cultivate the Discipline of worship?
The act of worship without actual worship is a miserable, hypocritical experience.
Since the object of our worship is the glorious and majestic God of heaven, when worship becomes empty, the problem lies somewhere with the subject (us), not the object (God).