Worship is usually defined as a time dedicated to honoring and praising God done either alone or in a group. Worship may include one or more activities such as song, prayer and meditation.
But there’s another part to worship that is not often talked about …
That is the state of the worshiper’s soul – that state is extremely important.
Jesus tells us in John 4:24 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
We may have some sense of what it means to worship in truth, but what does it mean to worship in spirit? (Please do not confuse this reference to ‘spirit’ with the Holy Spirit. The ‘spirit’ referred to here is a part of you – the Holy Spirit is a part of God. Of course, the Holy Spirit is involved, but that’s not the ‘spirit’ we’re speaking of here.) In order to address this issue of ‘spirit’ we must start with the same concepts and terms. So, a little foundation is necessary.
Many Bible translators use the terms ‘mind’, ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ in various somewhat arbitrary ways. To give some solidity to that foundation, those three terms are specifically defined here to mean –
- Soul: The soul is the invisible part of a living creature. The soul in a human being is the sum of the ‘animal mind’ and the ‘personal spirit’. In all other creatures the soul is comprised only of the ‘animal mind’.
- Spirit: Human beings are created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26). One aspect of that image and likeness is a ‘personal spirit’ (‘spirit’ (lower case) or ‘heart‘) which is given only to human beings. That invisible ‘spirit’ is the subject of this issue. It is through the personal ‘spirit’ that we are able to communicate with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. No other creature can do that.
- Mind: The ‘mind’ (‘animal mind’ or ‘flesh’) is the invisible part given to all living physical creatures including human beings. The ‘mind’ animates the creature and controls its basic living functions. This is the default state of consciousness for all living creatures.
A distinction between the ‘mind’ and ‘spirit’ is of critical importance as can be seen in Bible passages such as John 4:23-24 and Romans 8:3-8. All consciousness exists in the soul. Human consciousness functions in both ‘mind’ and ‘spirit’ states of the soul. Either state of consciousness – ‘mind’ or ‘spirit’ – can be the leading or guiding state of the soul. It is preferable for the ‘spirit’ to govern the soul yielding more Christ-like behavior, but far too often it’s the ‘mind’ that is in control yielding more animal-like behavior. However, when a person attempts to engage in communication with God, that person’s soul absolutely must be under the control of his/her ‘spirit’. When the ‘animal mind’ is controlling, that individual’s attempts at prayer or worship cannot be effective. (Matthew 15:8-9).
The default state of consciousness in humans is the ‘animal mind’. The elevated special state of ‘spirit’ is achieved by personal decision or by God’s calling. It is possible for the ‘spirit’ to become the default state of consciousness for a believer. This is most often done gradually though the process of sanctification. Although it can be instantaneous – especially if done by God. For most believers, elevation to the ‘spirit’ state can be somewhat automatic and the believer may be nearly unaware of the change of state. But how is the change in state intentionally effected? Each of us is unique so it is a matter of personal experience to know which aspect of soul is leading and how it got to be leading. To intentionally move one’s consciousness from ‘mind’ to ‘spirit’ is also a uniquely personal experience. Only you can know what works for you. However, there are some physical, environmental factors and actions which can actually trigger or help to trigger that change.
Things that stimulate the senses such as music, rituals, physical actions, locations, aromas, certain words, behavior of others, etc. can initiate a change in the state of the soul. Some things can elevate to the ‘spirit’. Some things can reduce to the ‘mind’.
For example, you may feel moved by a certain song or message. Such things may elevate your state to ‘spirit’. Other things, such as the ring of a cell phone or a bothersome worry may reduce your state to ‘mind’.
When you are worshiping alone, such initiators or triggers are more under your control than if you are worshiping in a group. In the latter case it is important to involve yourself with a group that generates initiators that stimulate your ‘spirit’.
When your ‘spirit’ is leading intentional communication with God becomes possible. Engaging in such activities as song, prayer and meditation in the ‘spirit’ means your worship time is actually able to honor and praise Him. You will be rewarded for that.
When your ‘spirit’ is leading and your soul is functioning as it should, you will have made a special entry into God’s presence, and you will likely feel His closeness. During times of worship and prayer that feeling can be very intimate and can be, for some, nearly overpowering.
Jesus tells us in John 6:63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you they are spirit and they are life.
Each of us a unique spiritual being. We are born individually, die individually and stand before God every moment of our lives as an individual. No matter how large a group we are in, our relationship with God is one on one. Therefore, our worship and each of our styles of worship must be accordingly unique. That concept is developed and expanded in the book “Worshiping Alone” available on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. If you haven’t read it, please consider doing so.
Copyright © 2022 Sam Dronebarger
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