How does God want to be worshipped?

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How does God want to be worshipped?

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“The biggest challenge will be for priests, who must learn intricate new speaking parts — often late in their years of service to the church. Many clergy are upset by the new language, calling it awkward and hard to understand” (Associated Press, November 5, 2011).

Priests and parishioners alike have concerns and are hesitant to change the Catholic Liturgy, which is simply defined as a standardized order of events observed during a religious service. "We're tinkering with a very intimate and personal moment," said the Rev. Richard Hilgartner, executive director of the worship office for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "It's public worship, it's the church's official public prayer, but for the individual faithful, it's one of the primary means of their encounter with the Lord."

Regardless of your religious affiliation, it is important to ask how our Heavenly Father expects to be worshipped. Does God want to be worshipped through traditions of memorized words, phrases and statements? Does God want to be worshipped through rituals created by men? Does God want to be worshipped through a language which is not understood by the individual worshipper?

God makes a blunt statement through the prophet Amos when He states, “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments” (Amos 5:21-23, NKJV). The nation of Israel at the time had meandered away from God’s way of life and had set up for themselves their own idols and self-gratifying religious ceremonies. God was angry with them for promoting traditions of men over His formula for a successful way of life. They in turn were sent into captivity (verse 27) for not worshipping and honoring God like He wanted to be worshipped and honored.

True worship of God involves nothing short of the inward transformation of the human heart by faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice and having Christ live in us through the Holy Spirit to help us obey. External worship practices alone are inadequate. God is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit, from a converted and transformed heart. True worship, then, is much more than praise of God in a public worship service. This broader meaning is indicated by the fact that five Greek verbs are translated "worship" in the New Testament. "The worship of God is nowhere defined in Scripture . . . It is not confined to praise; broadly it may be regarded as the direct acknowledgement to God, of His nature, attributes, ways and claims, whether by the outgoing of the heart in praise and thanksgiving or by deed done in such acknowledgement" (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, "Worship, Worshipping," p. 686). For more information on what God Himself declares to be valid worship, be sure to read our free Bible Study aid booklet, Sunset to Sunset: God’s Sabbath Rest.

Prior to what is commonly referred to as the Lord’s Prayer, Christ stated in His own words what His perspective is on memorized  prayers, sayings and chants. “When you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:7 NKJV). The phrase “do not use vain repetitions” is a Greek phrase that is “supposed to be derived from the name of a Greek poet, who made long and weary verses, declaring by many forms and endless repetitions the same sentiment. Hence, it means to repeat a thing often; to say the same thing in different words, or to repeat the same words, as though God did not hear at first” (Barnes Commentary, Matthew 6:7). God does not want to be worshipped with empty and memorized words, which are said without a mental internalization of what those words mean.

Jesus Christ Himself sharply rebuked the religious leaders of His day because they replaced God’s commands with their own humanly devised forms of worship. Christ in His own words told them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men— the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do. All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition” (Mark 7:6-8 NKJV). Christ reserved the harshest words of warning for those who would profess to worship God, but refuse to do God's will or obey His laws (Matthew 7:21-23). Such worship is empty and without merit, unacceptable to God and Jesus Christ.

Paul continued the warnings of following man’s traditions when he told the church at Colosse, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8 NKJV). All of our actions, whether in how and when we worship all the way to what forms the habits of our daily lives, should point to the Biblical instruction that God has inspired for our learning.

Beware of man’s traditions. Beware of differences between what the Bible says and what your priest, rabbi, elder or any other religious leader encourages you to do. Don’t be blind when it comes to your spirituality. Rather read your Bible, and see what God Himself has to say!


  • dust_i_am

    I was reminded through the booklet "Is God a Trinity?" of Numbers 6:22-27, which ties in with this topic.

    God seems to give specific words at that point for ministers to say, in a blessing to the Israelites. Are not these words for ministers to say today, in blessing congregations or children - perhaps as benedictions at the end of a service?

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