We see this idea of how to approach God in the Old Testament in the instructions given to Moses for the design of the tabernacle. What was the original tabernacle? It was not a thing of great beauty or permanence. It had no stained-glass windows, no gothic arches. It was just made of pieces of wood and animal skins. But every part of it was significant. The tabernacle, in other words, taught the way to God. It was a great object lesson. Take that tabernacle with its altar for sacrifice, its laver for cleansing, its Holy Place, and its Holy of Holies, and you have a perfect illustration of how a person must approach God.

We should pray that God will use any form of church service in which we happen to be participating to that end of directing our attention to Him. And as for evaluating services is concerned, we need to ask this: When we leave our services on Sunday morning and Sunday evening, do we come out saying “Oh, wasn't that unusual what the pastor did?” or “I've never heard a dialogue sermon before,” or “Weren't the visual aids interesting?” Rather, do we come out saying “I never knew that about God," and fix our mind upon Him?

In addition, however, we must not confuse worship with feeling, for worship does not originate with the soul either, any more than it originates with the body. The soul is the seat of our emotions. It may be the case, and often is, that the emotions are stirred in real worship. At times tears fill the eyes or joy floods the heart. But unfortunately, it is possible for these things to happen without worship being present. It is possible to be moved by a song or by oratory, and yet not come to a genuine awareness of God and a fuller praise of His ways and nature. True worship occurs only when man's spirit, that part of him which is akin to the divine nature (for God is spirit), actually meets with God, praising Him for His love, wisdom, beauty, truth, holiness, compassion, mercy, grace, power, and all His other attributes.

Another way of making this point about worship being essential is to note that there are three great "musts" in John's gospel. The first occurs in chapter 3, verse 7, where Jesus said, "Ye must be born again." The second is in verse 14 of the same chapter. “Even so must the Son of Man be lifted up." The verses we are studying give us the third “must,” for they say that all who worship God "must worship him in spirit and in truth.” In other words these three doctrines–the necessity for the new birth, the necessity of Christ's death, and the necessity of true worship–belong together. 

But in spite of the obvious truth that the worship of God is important and even imperative for Christians, it is a sad fact that in our day much that passes for worship is not worship at all. And many who sincerely desire to worship God do not always know how to go about it or where to begin. And so they ask questions such as, "What is worship anyway?" “Who can worship?” “Where can one worship?” “How does one worship?”