PSALMS 141:1-4: “LORD, I cry out to You; Make haste to me! Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You. Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, To practice wicked works With men who work iniquity; And do not let me eat of their delicacies.” NKJV
OBSERVATION: How do I position my heart before the Lord in worship? What kind of worship is acceptable to God? Is worship something I do once a week at church, or is it the daily response of my heart to the Lord?
I love to worship the Lord. I love to join with God’s people and lift up my voice in joyful praise. I love to spend time in the presence of God. There is nothing more fulfilling than being in His presence. Yet, if I am honest, many times when I do this, my heart is not truly positioned to worship. I need to be reminded that worship is not something that I do, it is first and foremost the condition of my heart before the Lord.
David begins this Psalm with a statement of his utter need for the Lord.
- “LORD, I cry out to You; Make haste to me! Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You.”
Worship begins when we have exhausted all of our self-effort, when we are emptied of all of our pride, and when we come humbly before the Lord in our time of need. Worship is the cry of a hungry heart for the living God. Worship is when we cry out to God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Worship begins at the place of spiritual surrender and hunger.
David then writes these words,
- “Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”
David’s reflections are drawn to the table of incense that stood before the Most Holy Place and the Ark of the Covenant. It was there that incense was burned as a perpetual offering of the prayers of God’s people. David desires his prayers to be accepted by God in the same way.
David then likens the lifting of his hands in worship to the evening sacrifice. The evening sacrifice was the burnt offering of the covenant. It was the closing sacrifice that was given each day to confirm the covenant that God had with His people Israel. It was the daily sacrifice that covered Israel with the blood of forgiveness and cleansing.
How does this relate to us?
Jesus is the final sacrifice for our sins. He is the fulfillment of all the promises of God’s covenant. It is through His blood, offered once and for all, that we are invited to come before the throne of God, to enter into the Holy of Holies, and to offer up our sacrifice of prayer, worship, and praise. Yet, we do not come empty handed. We too are to bring a sacrifice. However, it is not a sacrifice for sin.
It is a sacrifice of worship!
- “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2 NKJV
We are not truly positioned for worship unless we are presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice. Paul reminds us – “…this is your reasonable (or spiritual) service.” This is what God requires of us. What does this mean? It means that worship is not a compartmentalized event that we participate in for a few hours a week. Worship is living our life, our entire life, for the glory of God. It is abiding in prayer, walking in obedience, allowing the Holy Spirit to daily transform us. It is coming to Jesus when we fail and rising up in newness of life. It is the presentation of our heart, soul, body, and mind for the glory of God. It is lifting our hands and our hearts in full surrender to the Lord!
This is the position of worship!
This is not an easy calling. We cannot fulfill it in our own strength. We must draw upon the grace of God and walk after the leading of the Holy Spirit. David was fully aware of this. This is why David prayed,
- “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, To practice wicked works With men who work iniquity; And do not let me eat of their delicacies.”
Paul’s words echo this same plea.
- “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
The call to true worship is beyond us. Yet, it is close at hand. It is beyond us if we feel we can fulfill it in our own strength. It is beyond us if we feel it is simply singing songs or uttering a prayer. Yet, it is close at hand if we humble ourselves before God, recognize our utter need for Him, and boldly come into the Holy of Holies with our lives as a living sacrifice. When we come in surrender, when we come in repentance, when we come through the completed sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we enter into true worship!
- “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16 NKJV
Lord, this morning I come to You with a hungry heart. I recognize my need for You. I come to offer You my life as a living sacrifice. May my prayers be before You as incense, and may my lifted hands of surrender be to You as the evening sacrifice. May my life be fully positioned in worship.
In Jesus Name!