Prerequisites to Worship

Worship is not some difficult, complex, sophisticated religious activity which is limited to a few elite saints. It is to be the portion of all believers. Worship is simply bowing before the Lord and expressing His worthiness to be worshiped. (Rev.5:8) Now worship goes beyond the wonderful fact that Jesus died for us. While we should never forget this amazing fact, and the wonderful love of Christ, there is much more for which He can be worshipped.

Rather than being solely occupied with our blessings, we can think upon His beauties as seen through the eyes of Father, to Whom He always brought delight. As the hymn writer has so nicely put it, “Loved with love which knows no measure, Save the Father’s love to Thee. All His joy, His rest, His pleasure—All His deep delight in Thee—Lord, Thy heart alone can measure what Thy Father found in Thee.” If we would see some of what the Father saw in Him, we will find ourselves at His feet, and we will be worshippers!

Worship has been called the Christian’s “highest occupation.” If this is true, and it is, then the Church is sadly failing to fulfill its highest calling. Much of what is called worship is not really worship at all. Listening to sermons and choirs falls far short of Biblical worship. Saints in many circles rarely, if ever, come together to simply be occupied with Christ and to exalt Him together.

Others come together specifically for this purpose, but often there is little worship. Many have given little thought to Christ during the week and the best they can muster is singing someone else’s thoughts penned in a hymn—this is not to say that singing hymns that honor and exalt the Lord are not worship, but they can become a substitute for real worship.

In the Bible there were two things that characterized those who were worshippers. It seems to be true of them, regardless of what dispensation they lived in. Perhaps we could view them as prerequisites to worship, and test our hearts accordingly as we come together to worship the Lord Jesus Christ.

The first thing that characterizes those saints in Scripture that worshipped was that they had a right view of the Lord. They understood to some degree, and were often overcome by, the majesty of His person, the greatness of His power, and the glory that is His. They never came into His presence in some casual way, but with great reverence—a reverence that is often missing in our casual day!

We see this in David’s prayer regarding the materials for the temple and the offering of the people. “Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.” (1 Chron. 29:10–11)

Isaiah records, “… I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. … And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isa. 6:1–3)

Thomas uttered that short, but wonderful expression when he realized he was in the presence of the risen Christ, “My Lord, and my God.” (John 20:28) Scripture records many expressions which indicate that the worshippers had a right view of the Lord.

The second thing that characterized those who worshipped was that they had a right view of themselves. After expressing his worship David asked, “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort?” (1 Chron. 29:14) Isaiah cries out, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isa. 6:5) Seeing the Lord, John writes, “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.” (Rev. 1:17)

Those who found themselves in the presence of the Lord were fully aware of the vast difference between the One they worshipped and the one worshipping. They were humbled to think that such creatures could be so privileged as to be in the presence of the Lord Himself. Are we aware of this great difference and the grace that has brought us to this place of acceptance and privilege? Do we with little thought of such things gather together to worship? If so, is it any wonder that we worship so little?

As accepted in Christ we may come boldly into His presence (Eph. 1:6; Heb. 10:19), but this does not negate the need for a right view of the Lord, and a right view of ourselves as we come into His presence to worship.