Humble, honest, and with a pure heart is how we ought to pray and worship. 

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Idolatry & Pride


Proverbs 15:29 The Lord is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous.

Proverbs 28:9 One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination.

Something happens with prayer... when it is done sincerely, honestly, and humbly in service to God.

Prayer experience

It was prayer time at a high school youth retreat and students were sent by groups into different rooms. There was a soft strum of an acoustic guitar and a gentle quiet song in the background lead by the youth pastor. The lights were dimmed. The students had just received a sermon emphasizing submission to God. There was this universal submissive attitude with respect, intimacy, and sincerity. Students were sharing personal information making humble requests to God. It was cathartic. Others while hearing students share their humble and sincere plea would speak supportive and compassionate words "yes Jesus" or "yes God." Some students shed tears while expressing their pain and sharing grief. There was confession, mercy, and forgiveness in the air. There were a couple of students who were not ready to give themselves into the experience observing it away from the groups. And even the silent observers were humbled and affected.

At the very least this experience had the appearance of being very therapeutic, bonding, sincere, compassionate and honest. Students were vulnerable and intimate with each other. The characteristics used to describe this scene are the same characteristics the bible uses to describe God. If God is love, truth, just, sincere, compassionate, and forgiving, then perhaps in an atmosphere sincerely emulating these characteristics God may be present.

Prayer ought to be facilitated with sincerity, genuineness, truth, humility, and with requests for alignment into God's will. The primary concern in the many of the scripture verses regarding prayer in the bible is focused on spiritual support and building God's kingdom. When reading stories in the bible about prayer it may be helpful to examine the heart and attitude of the person praying. We can also learn from the words they use and what requests they make. Who in the bible prays for more gold, passing a test, a job, or a better camel?

When we pray for spiritual assistance we are using our minds and hearts while often times bowing our heads in a humble and submissive posture. The scene speaks clearly as an example of worship. We make ourselves less and God more. We bow down to God.

When we pray we ought to think about God, who God is, and ask for guidance to build God's character. This sets our minds on doing righteous activity and God's goodness to build God's kingdom. Our thoughts can turn in a repentance-like fashion toward seeking God's goodness and righteousness. As our minds become redirected toward God our feelings and attitude often follows. When we humble ourselves and seek first the kingdom of God we often times will sense a new power leading us. We can feel a sense of relief and peace.

Read scripture on prayer and try to get a sense for how requests to God are made - 'attitude' and what kinds of requests are made - 'how to focus our prayers.'

Job 16:17 Although no violence is in my hands, And my prayer is pure.

Job 32:21 Let me not, I pray, show partiality to anyone; Nor let me flatter any man.

Job 33:26 He shall pray to God, and He will delight in him, He shall see His face with joy, For He restores to man His righteousness.

Job 42:10 And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Psalm 4:1 Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.

Psalm 35:13
But as for me, when they were sick, My clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; And my prayer would return to my own heart.

Psalm 42:8 The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me— A prayer to the God of my life.

Psalm 102:17 He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, And shall not despise their prayer.

Psalm 119:76 Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort, According to Your word to Your servant.

Psalm 122:6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.

Psalm 141:2 Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.

Proverbs 15:29 The Lord is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous.

Proverbs 28:9 One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination.

Isaiah 1:15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.

Isaiah 38:5 “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years.

Jeremiah 7:16 “Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you.

Jeremiah 42:4 Then Jeremiah the prophet said to them, “I have heard. Indeed, I will pray to the Lord your God according to your words, and it shall be, that whatever the Lord answers you, I will declare it to you. I will keep nothing back from you.”

Lamentations 3:44 You have covered Yourself with a cloud, That prayer should not pass through.

Daniel 9:3 Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.

Daniel 9:13 “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth.

Jonah 2:7 “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple.

Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,

John 9:31
Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.

Hebrew Definition
to prostrate oneself (in worship)
NASB Translation
bow down (1), fall down (1), falls down (2).

Greek Definition: I go down on my knees to, do obeisance to, worship.

Worship could be the most controversial issue around beliefs in church. In one church there is no music, in another only an organ, while still in others every musical instrument possible. Singing is quite common even in churches without music. There are still other extreme differences with dance, swinging flags or ribbons, chorus groups, smoke, candles, healings, and others seemingly experiencing spasms of some sort. 

Something to consider when people gather to hear a band which they believe is amazing, is that they may be coming to hear the band instead of there to worship God. Also, if people are coming together to hear the words of a man because they enjoy his voice and his energy, again they are coming for reasons other then worshiping God. The bible is clear and firm that we are to set all our mind, heart, strength, and soul toward God for our salvation & healing. If we seek out anything else to make us "feel good" then we engage in what the bible calls idolatry which is sin.

Song conflict: There are times when a new song is introduced to the congregation or a new person does not know the song being performed. The person or people may become so focused upon learning the song they get distracted from the real purpose... worshiping God. 

What about the words of the song? There ought to be instruction on what the lyrics or words mean and how they relate to God. For someone who does not understand, this might be like speaking in tongues without interpretation. 
1 Corinthians 14:5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.

How can the church be edified if people do not explain clearly the meaning of what they do, why they do it, and how it aligns with God? Understanding the purpose behind everything is extremely important to both God and the listener. This only adds to the worship experience, to have full confidence and understanding.

Who decides the music or style of performance for worship? One controversy that occurs lies in personal preference. Services are even separated because of the music. There is the traditional service and then the contemporary. Doesn't this create division? Worship in this sense might have the appearance of serving people instead of God. Wouldn't God rather there be no music if it would create such division? God desires spiritual unity with God's commands and God's commands create the music God desires. When we are able to submit our desires and expectations to God, then God can fill our hearts and spirit to sing. This has so much to do with our spiritual voice and little to do with our actual vocal cords. When we are with the spirit of God our hearts overflow with God's love and grace. Then we can sing the way God intends for us to sing with love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, generosity, truth, justice, and humility.

What does the bible say about worship?

First of all, let us all agree we are to worship God;  "love, compassion, spirit, truth, faith, mercy, gracious, peace, just, righteous, goodness, and strength."

We are to submit our minds and hearts toward these characteristics as an act of worship. Since worship is defined as kneeling with faces to the ground it might be important to understand the difficulty of singing and playing instruments from such a position. It could mean that we are to do so from our heart, soul, and mind. After all, it is the greatest commandment to love God from our heart, soul, and mind with all our strength.

Isaiah 29:13 The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.

John 4:23 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.

John 4:24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Romans 1:25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Colossians 2:23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Hebrews 914 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Hebrews 12:28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,

​From Genesis to Revelation people worshiped God from a humble servitude position bowed down

Genesis 24:26 Then the man bowed down and worshiped the Lord,

​Revelation 11:16 And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God,

Some cultures are proud people who would not be comfortable worshiping God or anyone else in this manner. This would be culture shock breaking long standing traditions. Yet if we are to believe and follow the God of the bible we will give into the truth and follow the examples illustrated. The most important is to be right with God in our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Our attitude ought to be focused upon God. We are not to worship statues or idols. The cross can be seen by some as idolatry, since we are not to worship images, so we must be careful with how that is presented.

Revelation 9:20 The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk.

Exodus 23:24 Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces.