Sunday, June 04, 2006

How Worship Impacts Praying






Measure Those Who Worship

Francis Frangipane

"Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, 'Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations . . . '" (Revelation 11:1-2).

At the end of the age there will be two types of Christians: those who worship in the inner court and those outside the place of intimacy who are, to some degree, subject to the influence of "the nations." For whatever this verse ultimately means, it tells us now that the Spirit of God is measuring worshipers - those individuals whose treasure is in heaven, who abide in the inner court of God's temple. Beloved, those who worship God dwell in a measured and protected place.

Consider: In our world of terrors, pressures and trauma, our only place of safety exists in the living presence of God. We must not accept a religion about God instead of the presence of God. If we would truly dwell in the divine Presence, one thing perhaps above all others will take us there: we must become true worshipers of God.

True Worship
Jesus taught that "true worshipers" are those who worship "the Father in spirit and truth" (John 4:23). In other words, their worship of God flows from their heart unhindered by difficult outward conditions. "Spirit and truth" worship is genuine worship. Indeed, right now on planet earth, the Father is seeking such people "to be His worshipers" (John 4:23-24).

Consider well the priority of God. He isn't seeking for us to be miracle workers or great apostles and prophets. He desires more from us than the cultivation of good leadership skills or administrative strengths. What does He seek? He desires that, in spirit and truth, we become His worshipers.

Genuine worship causes us to become genuine Christians.

If we focus on making our worship true, our Bible study, prayer and extended service to God, whatever that may be, will also be true. Indeed, a worshiping heart floods all other spiritual disciplines with legitimacy and substance. If we bow in worship before studying God's word, His word will plunge deep into our soul; our fruit will be sweeter and more enduring. If, before we open our mouths in prayer, we honor God in worship, our intercession will ascend toward heaven on wings of unfeigned trust and expectant faith.

Worship rescues our spiritual efforts from routine, religiosity, pride and guilt; it takes our minds completely off ourselves and burrows us into the overwhelming life of God.

We have all heard teaching that God desires to have a relationship with us, and it is true. Yet, the implication is that His relationship with us is perfectly accommodating, nearly casual in its nature, and mostly defined by our terms. Yes, God desire that our union with Him be full and wonderful. Yet, His descent into our lives, His commitment to redeem and restore us has one ultimate purpose: that we can ascend into a relationship defined by His terms.

The consequence of possessing such a relationship with God is that the reality of His presence transforms us into worshipers. Indeed, worship is the evidence of a transformed life. Worship may be expressed with tears of joy or in silent awe; it may create an abiding gratitude toward God or inspire songs in the night. However the expression, the worship the Father seeks is absolutely meaningful. It turns our complete being toward God in love.

If, however, the idea of "worship" seems to be a strange thing; if it's feels mechanical or the words expressed seem hollow (and not hallowed), it is because the soul of the individual has not first been transformed. The closer we draw to God, the more we are transformed; the greater our transformation, the more completely we respond in worship. You see, true worship deepens and matures as we walk on with God and His glory unfolds before us.

Recall the aged apostle John's testimony. He was in his nineties when he wrote: "We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us" (1 John 4:16). Listen to that first phrase: we have come to know. When we first come to God, by necessity, we must come as we are with sin and shame. Yes, we seek to repent of our obvious sins, but the work of God is destined to go much deeper. As young Christians, we still carry attitudes of pride, ambition and fear, as well as many other sins, that cause us to misrepresent the actual nature of God to others. Though we are sinful, God does not abandon us. Instead His work continues. His illuminating fire enters the darkened caverns of our hearts. Here, in this furnace of divine refinement, stripped of our pretenses and pride, spiritually naked without a rag of self-righteousness in which to clothe ourselves - in this stark reality we come to know God's unconditional love and acceptance.

If you have true worship for God it is because you have, indeed, been loved by Him. "We love, because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). What once sounded like an impossible command - "YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND - is transformed from a Law into a promise full of hope, an anticipation that He will transform all that we are and, in the process, create the praise of our lips. It is as though He says, You shall love Me with all your heart for that is exactly how I love you, with all My heart.

Our worship is the result of His drawing near to us; it is the effect He has upon the redeemed. Yet, it is also a choice we make. I choose worship as a way to demonstrate my trust in God when my circumstances appear hostile; I choose worship as my means of burrowing into the heart of God when all around me is in turmoil. And as I'm lifted into His presence, I am also aware that the character of my life is being measured, and it's being measured by my worship at His altar.


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