Spiritual Worship-Part Two

Man with hands folded on a Bible

          The first act of worship that we will examine is prayer to the Father.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared to whom prayer should be addressed.  He said, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matt. 6:6).  Continuing, Jesus stated, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do:  for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.  Be not ye therefore like unto them:  for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.  After this manner therefore pray ye:  Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name” (Matt. 6:7-9).  To further illustrate, let us notice one of Jesus’ own prayers.  “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee” (John 17:1).  There is no doubt as to what Jesus taught and practiced concerning prayer.  A diligent Bible student will find that there are no verses of Scriptures which authorize prayer to any other than the Father.  That means that any prayers addressed to Mary, Jesus, The Holy Spirit, any so called “saints”, or any other than the Father are not accepted, nor answered.  Someone might attempt to claim that it is acceptable to pray to Jesus because of what Stephen did, recorded in Acts chapter seven.  Stephen was able to see the Lord standing.  Stephen was not praying to Christ.  If I literally saw Jesus, then I could speak directly to Him.  That in no way means that prayer is to be addressed to Him.

            The Bible is also clear on who should lead public prayers in worship.  While it has become common place amongst some congregations for women to lead in prayer when men are present, that is a direct violation of Scripture, and therefore sin (1 John 3:4).  Paul plainly taught, “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Tim. 2:8).  The word “men” in that verse is not referring to the totality of mankind, but rather specifically to those of the male gender.  To understand this, all one has to do is keep reading in First Timothy chapter two.  The verses following verse eight shift from instruction to males to instruction to females.  It is clear as to how God feels toward such matters.  Paul continued, “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (1 Tim. 2:12).  For those who might claim that Paul was just giving his personal opinion on the matter, it is good to remember that Paul wrote, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37).  When Paul wrote by inspiration, it was just as if Jesus were giving the command.

            In closing this discussion on prayer to the Father in worship, let me add some final notes.  It is good for the one leading the prayer to remember that he is doing just that, leading others in prayer.  He is not simply praying a private, personal prayer.  If there are private things for which he should pray, then it would seem to be more appropriate to handle those things in a private prayer.  Also, we should strive to remember that need to be reverential in our worship.  Addressing the Almighty Father is a privilege, and we should never take that for granted.

            The next act of worship that we will notice is the preaching and studying of God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:15; 4:2).  It is sad to see what some are calling “preaching today”.  Preaching is not entertainment.  Preaching is not simply having a discussion.  Preaching is a very specific form of speaking that God has authorized.  To help to have a better understanding of what preaching is, let us notice a particular verse in the Old Testament.  When the people found a copy of the Old Law, Nehemiah wrote, “So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Neh. 8:8).  Please notice, that they read God’s Word.  Too many times today, some “preachers” will get before a congregation and rarely mention, let alone read, many Scriptures.  I have sat before some “preachers” who might not use Scripture until they are a quarter or halfway through their “sermon”.  With this type of “preaching”, it is no wonder why some congregations have fallen so far from God. (to be continued).
~ Corey Barnette