When Jesus spoke to the women at Jacobs well in the fourth chapter of the Gospel according to John, He spoke on worship. Jesus stated that God the Father searches for those that will worship in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23). The conversation basically boils down to the point that true worship does not depend on the physical location of the person but their spiritual position before God.
So what hinders our worship from being in Spirit and in Truth? Here are a few issues impacting our personal and gathered worship.
An unrepentant and deceitful heart (Acts 5:4-5 & 8:9-25)
In these two passages, we see the damage caused by unrepentant and dishonest hearts. Highlighting the necessity of a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ, made into a reality by the transforming presence of the Holy Spirit. God is not pleased by anything that is not done by faith (Heb. 11:6). The activation of faith begins with repentance of sin and belief in God. If there is unconfessed sin in our life, we are deceiving ourselves and hindering our worship. We need to come clean with God and allow Him to do the full work of Grace in our life.
Lack of prayer (Mt. 21:13)
When Jesus made his way into the temple at Jerusalem, He was disturbed at the marketing chaos and lack of respect for prayer. He turned over tables and drove the moneychangers out. Now, we might say this is a location but let us cross-reference with the Scriptural teaching that our bodies are the temple of God as well (1 Cor. 6:19). We are to be a people of prayer. Prayer marks our lives because it is more than a ritual of obedience. It is intentional dialoguing with God. If we do not have a habit of speaking with God through prayer, how can we also talk, sing, and serve Him in worship? Prayer is a part of worshipping and can’t be separated from it.
Limited Biblical knowledge (Hos. 4:6 & Col. 1:9)
Despite those with an attitude of intellectual snobbery, Scripture has much to say about the need for Biblical knowledge. Knowledge of God’s Word and His Ways in the world have a significant impact on our worship. Worship is more than emotional outburst and your feelings. A limited Biblical knowledge leads to shallow worship. C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity noted a conversation that demonstrates this. The individual he witnessed to said they did not need the Bible because they thought it restricted what they had already experienced with God through personal observations and feelings. However, Lewis noted that there is a difference between standing on the beach and going out on a ship into the ocean. You can only experience so much in the shallows. But, to go out deeper and experience the totality, you need a map, or you will get lost. The Bible is our map, and it helps us navigate deeper into our relationship with the Lord. The more we know of God, the more we can honestly know God.
Toxic attitudes (Phil. 4:8-9 & Eph. 4:32)
Attitudes of ungratefulness, dishonesty, irreverence, pride, jealousy, cynicism, and more also hinder our worship. We are challenged to think about things that are pleasant and good in the sight of God. We are challenged to have a spirit of forgiveness and preference of others instead of self. If we harbor this ill-feelings and negative thoughts, without ever giving them to God, we will find our souls drifting farther and farther from God.