But a time is coming, indeed it is already here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father spiritually and truly; for such are the worshipers that the Father desires. God is Spirit; and those who worship him must worship spiritually and truly. (John 4:23-24)
In 987 Prince Vladimir of Kiev decided that his people, pagans up to that time, needed a new religion. So he sent delegations to the various religions around him (including Islam) to see for themselves what was going on. The delegation that went to Constantinople (now Istanbul) was unprepared for what they experienced. They returned to Kiev to report that “the Greeks led us to where they worship their God, and we did not know whether we were in heaven or earth…We know only that God dwells there among men…”
It’s commonplace today to say that a certain style of worship is “from the throne room” or “will take you into the throne room” of God. We can claim that for our own form of worship. But what kind of impact do we have on those who come in for the first time? Do they, like Prince Vladimir’s envoys, come back not knowing whether they were in heaven or earth? Will they see that God dwells among you? Or will they just be presented with a loud band?
There’s a lot of dispute over what style of worship is really “from the throne room” these days. But there’s no disputing that, for God to dwell in us corporately, he must first dwell in us personally.
It’s no accident that, in the passage above, Jesus foretells the beginning of true worship to the Samaritan woman, who was anything but spiritual. Before we have spiritual worship we must start with spiritual people whose worship is in truth, and that truth can only be Jesus Christ himself and the life he has commanded us to live. So when you worship, think about the kind of person you are in Christ before you think about the form of worship.
My desire, then, is that it should be the custom everywhere for the men to lead the prayers, with hands reverently uplifted, avoiding heated controversy. (1 Timothy 2:8)