John R. W. Stott said…
Instead of worshipping God ‘in spirit’ (recognising that he is spirit himself and asks for spiritual worship), idolaters become preoccupied with external, visible, and tangible objects. Even the worship of the people of Israel had a constant tendency to degenerate into formalism and even blatant hypocrisy … as it is written: ‘These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’ So whatever outward forms we may use in Christian worship (liturgies, processions, drama, ritual, kneeling or raising our arms), we need to ensure that they escape the charge of idolatry by passing the double test of being ‘in spirit and in truth.’ (From: Basic Christianity)
John 4:23, 24: Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.’
In his book, Let there be life, Andrew Kane refers to a famous preacher who took a service in a church that has seen better days. The numbers have declined. The good old days were over. After the service, one of the leaders in the church apologised for the small numbers and the empty pews. The preacher threw his hands in the air and said, ‘Empty? Never! It looked very packed from where I stood. There was Moses and Aaron on the front pew and James and John at the back, Elijah sitting with Paul on the side and the balcony was full of angels!’
It reminded me that one of my professors always said that he never feels alone when he preaches. He joins hands with a crowd of people who had previously brought the gospel. He stood on their shoulders. He built on what they said.
Worship joins hands with those who worshipped in the past, worship at the moment and will worship in the future. We are part of this crowd of believers. It does not matter how many people are physically present. It does not matter if we have good voices or not. It does not matter whether we are old or young. We should keep this perspective: when we pray, worship, sing, are silent before God, respond to the message of the gospel, we do it as part of a crowd standing before the throne of God. We are not going to church. We do not go to listen to a sermon. We are not going there to sing nice songs. We stand with the angels, saints of the past, present and future before the throne of God.
Lord, teach me to worship you in spirit and truth, in Jesus' name. Amen.