There’s worship and there is worship. Have you experienced the difference? It’s easy to think of worship as a time that we sing a hymn or a chorus in a religious meeting. That doesn’t necessarily mean that worship has taken place. The Israelites ended up focusing on the offering they brought rather than the God who loved them. This is not worship according to God.
Psalm 51: 17 says, “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” David knew the pathway to true worship. For real worship to take place a heart must be contrite and a spirit broken. When was the last time you felt contrite and broken before God? That was the last time you worshiped.
When Jesus was talking to the Samaritan woman at the well, she brought up the subject of worship. She thought Jesus was a Prophet, so she felt he could settle the religious feud that had been going on for centuries between Samaritans and Jews. The Jews did not agree with the Samaritan’s watered down religion that did not include coming to the Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus answered her in John 4:21-24:
“Woman, Jesus replied, believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
Jesus was telling her that what her religion, or what the Jewish religion thought of as worship, is not the kind of worship the Father is seeking. He is seeking those who worship from the spirit—a broken spirit and contrite heart at that.
The heart of true worship is the intimate connection between your heart and God’s heart. When you see the heart of God for you, there’s no other response than feelings of contriteness. If you do not feel contrite or broken and depend on your own goodness to come before a Holy, loving and merciful God, then you are not experiencing true worship.
I love this description of worship.
“God is truly worshiped when someone actually gives full attention to God with feelings of awe, love, devotion, respect, and wonder. Such a moment is genuine worship. It is idolatrous to think and feel this way about anything other than God. This is why the apostle Paul says that ‘their god is their stomach and such people are not serving our Lord Jesus, but their own appetites.’” Guigo I: Meditations
May you discover how a broken spirit and contrite heart leads to true worship.