The Heart of Worship

The apostle Paul wrote the following about worship in his letter to the Romans: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (12:1 ESV).

Contrary to some beliefs, the essence of worship is not the outward singing, praying, giving of offerings or lifting of hands that is done on Sundays in church. Jesus warned his disciples in The Sermon on the Mount against the dangers of acting holy, praying, fasting and giving only so that it may be seen or heard by others (Matthew 6:1-18).

I want you to think about this: now that church has gone digital, do you still lift up your hands when worshipping? Do you give as much to the church now as you would have when seen by others? I am not trying to make you feel guilty. I want you to think about the motivation behind your actions. Only when our hearts are sincere and in a right relationship with God, may these acts be an out-pouring of a life that is already devoted to God.

Rather, as the apostle Paul puts it, spiritual worship is when we present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God – this is acceptable to God. He could simply have said we should present our lives as a sacrifice to God, but he uses the word bodies. What does this mean? Our bodies are things that are personal to us and that we carry with us everywhere we go – obvious right? – whether we are surrounded by people or whether we are alone.

What we do when we think no-one can see us, will reveal our hearts and the objects of our worship. If we don’t think about worship in this way, we might not recognize the idols that we have secretly been worshipping instead of God. What do we spend most of our time on? What thoughts occupy our minds? What comes out of our mouths when we speak to a spouse or child? What or who would we sacrifice anything for? “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)” God knows all of this about you. Is that comforting to you or does it scare you?

If you have been guilty of “fake worship” or secretly worshipping idols and would like to present your body as a living sacrifice to God, pray this together with me in your heart:

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight… Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.” (Psalm 51:1-4,6)

Help me to fully present my body as a living sacrifice, that will be holy and acceptable to You. Strip me from everything that distracts me from worshipping You alone. Keep my heart devoted to You, whether I am together with others or by myself. In Jesus’ Name and for His glory – Amen.”

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