Notes on Prayer~ Worship~ Service

John 4:24 says, "God is Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in Truth."

2 Corinthians 5:6 says to be present in the body is to be absent form the Lord. Therefore, in order to go to God who is Spirit, we must meet with Him in spirit, that is, in prayer. (Romans 8:26,27 shows how the Spirit intercedes for us in prayer even when we don't know what to say.) I don't think that worship is limited to prayer only though -- but every act that we do must be bathed in prayer if it is to be truly a good work. Just as we are instructed in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to "pray without ceasing". Therefore prayer is not only that time when we resort to our closet and get on our knees (Matthew 6:6), but also throughout the day as we walk and talk with our Father in the secret place of the heart, seeking Him and communicating with Him without ceasing. To me, this is one of the most wonderful gifts of our salvation, -- that I can stay connected to the Lord constantly. The Lord has shown me that this is most definitely His will for us too. I have the greatest peace when every thought, every concern and stress, every trouble and every joy is brought before Him (Psalm 16:8). Just as Isaiah 26:3 says, "Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in thee." When I am in my right mind and not neglecting the Lord (to my own hurt and His grief) I am speaking with Him constantly. Much of the time my thoughts toward Him are: 'help me Lord'-- 'help me do a good job today'--'help me to be kind' -- 'work in me to bear the fruits of Christ's righteousness, for your glory -- reveal yourself in me'-- 'show others how wonderful you are as you shine forth in me' etc. 'work love in me' -- 'cause me to be lowly minded as Christ was on earth' etc.etc. Other times my thoughts to Him are: 'deliver me from this vain thinking' 'deliver me, deliver me' These prayers are sometimes filled with intense desperation as I beg the Lord for His mercy to forgive and deliver. Sometimes my prayers to Him are: 'forgive me for not speaking to you for the last four hours' --'for not depending on you, for not acknowledging you in all my ways'.

Worship perhaps, in it's most basic meaning, means to give your attention to something or someone. I think that is why we are instructed to have our minds stayed on Him (Isaiah 26:3) and also Proverbs 3:5,6 which calls us to acknowledge Him in all our ways. In 1 Peter 2:5 it says we are made priests so that we may offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Among offering God our attention, there are other offerings that we are to give Him. Hebrews 13:15,16 speaks of praise, doing good, and communicating with others all in the sense of offering sacrifice unto God. Another verse that refers to communicating to others in terms of offering sacrifice is Hosea 14:2. In fact, I have found that the Lord often uses this idea of communicating to others, right along with praising Him, and offering thanksgiving or vows to God. All in the sense of offering sacrifice to Him (see verses below). Of course He only accepts our sacrifices because of the One Great Sacrifice that the Lord Jesus made in our behalf to give us access unto the Father (see Ecclesiastes 9:7, Romans 5:2). Nevertheless, the Lord calls us to worship Him daily offering up "spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:6). Romans 12:1 in the light of Mark 8:34,35 speaks of sacrificing to Him as we deny this body and use it for God's service and not for sin. Romans 12:2 reminds us how this can be achieved. Romans 1:9 says, "For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;" All these acts of worship are the result of constant prayer with God. Just as Philippians 4:6 says " everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God".

Now this calling we have of offering to God is what I believe most true believers in our day are straying away from. When the Lord saves us, the product of this is that we pledge to maintain a clear conscience before Him, being instructed by Him that Jesus' atoning work can accomplish this for us (1 Peter 3:21, Hebrews 9:14) and as often as we stray we can return to the Lord for forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). Jesus said in John 13:10once a person has been washed (or saved) then he needs only to wash his feet. Now feet are sometimes a reference to the display of the Gospel, remember Isaiah 52:7 "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings" (note that "good tidings" or "good news" is what the word "Gospel" means). I think the Lord uses this picture because messengers were often runners, traveling by foot (unsure, but for whatever reason, God uses it) In John 13:10 Jesus was saying once we are saved we need to only have our feet washed -- that is, our ability to communicate the Gospel needs to be washed. And we are to wash one another's feet so that we help each other to be effective witnesses.

Now remember that I said that communicating to others, praising God, offering thanksgiving, and paying vows are often all used in the same sense? Communicating the Gospel is a means of praising God: because God's righteousness is revealed in it (Romans1:17). Psalm 51:12-15 shows how declaring the Gospel and seeking the salvation of others is an expression of thanksgiving (and praise). See here how it is all in the context of offering sacrifice unto God too (Psalm 51:16,17) which involves a broken and contrite spirit. Psalm 69:29-32 is another example of this means of offering sacrifice. Notice how verse 32 says "the humble shall see..." Psalm 116:14 says "I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all His people." What vows? The vows that we made when He saved us, that we would be diligent to seek a clear conscience before Him through His grace. This involves serving Him. Serving Him results in the salvation of others. Remember Jonah? What did Jonah say when he came to his senses (the hard way) and surrendered to do God's will? Jonah 2:9 "But I will sacrifice unto You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed." Then Jonah went to Nineveh to declared God's word to them and to fulfill his vow. Notice this theme also in Jonah 1:16 as the men in the ship are shown as an example of someone becoming saved (here Jonah is a type of Christ as they obey God and allowed Him to perish for their salvation). Another way to look at how the saved person vows unto the Lord is to think of the institution of marriage. In a marriage there are "marital vows". When we become saved we are married to Christ and we vow unto Him as He has vowed (Psalm 56:12,13) to complete our salvation. Even though the work is His, the evidence of that work is a willing heart within us to do His will, and to seek His grace to perform His will. This is our vow. And this is a means of worship, to continually perform this vow and offer unto the Lord continually spiritual sacrifices of praise, thanksgiving (1 Thessalonians 5:18), and doing good. These are all inter-related. And remember that all these are summed up in that one work of seeking to communicate the Gospel to others. This, more specifically, is our vow.

We can never repay God for the salvation He has given us, but what we can do is thank Him, and praise Him by seeking to be His instrument in the salvation of others -- by seeking to communicate to others the reality that Jesus exists, that He is love and that in Him is life -- in all that we do -- that others might know Him and be saved from the consequences of their sins (see John 17:3) This is God's will for us, and the calling that He has given us in this world. This is our opportunity of service (Matthew 25:40). And seeking to fulfill this is the performance of our vow, and is abiding in His love (see John 15:12,13).

Here is a good example of the vow we make when the Lord saves us:

Gen 28:20,21 "And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:" [he says, "then shall the Lord be my God" meaning He will be mine (my God) and I will be His --he will be God of my life and my life will be in service to Him -- not unlike a marital vow]

 Here are some more verses on vows:

Psalm 65:1 "Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed."

Psalm 61:5 "For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name."

Psalm 61:8 "So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows." (remember that singing praise is often a synonym for communicating the Gospel)

Psalm 50:14 "Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:"

Ecclesiastes 5:4,5 "When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay."

Isaiah 19:19-21 "In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD. And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the LORD because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them. And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the LORD, and perform it." (this is an interesting passage set in an end-times context, though some of it has been true all through the New Testament. Egypt represents the world here, which believers are a part of)

Nahum 1:15"Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off." (see here again how the idea of performing thy vows is related to him that brings good tidings --the one who declares the Gospel.)

One more verse:

As we worship the Lord by offering up to Him our attention (in prayer) and offering up to Him good works (namely communicating the Gospel -- bathed in prayer) wonderfully we are also offering up something else. As Isaiah 66:19,20 says:

"And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles. And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD."

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