Bible Question:

What does it mean to worship, praise and glorify God? As stated in John 4:24 what does it mean to worship God in spirit and truth?

Bible Answer:

Jesus is talking with a Samaritan woman in John 4:1-26. Jesus is seeking to reach her heart. The woman has just come to believe that Jesus is a prophet and then she adds,

Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. (NASB) John 4:20

That sounds familiar. Most people would say they go to a church, a synagogue, a mosque, a temple, or some “place” to worship God. Her ancestors had worshiped at a temple on Mt. Gerizim. It was a close copy of the temple in Jerusalem. The Samaritans believed that the only sacred books were the first five books of the Old Testament, the books of Moses – the Pentateuch. They had their own priests and probably their own order of worship. How did Jesus respond? Here is His answer.

But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (NASB) John 4:23-24

Things Surrounding Worship

In the Old Testament, worship included voluntary gifts, tithes, priests, music, a choir, a choir leader, songs and hymns of thanksgiving. All of these components are a part of many church services today.

. . . men were also appointed over . . . the contributions, the first fruits, and the tithes . . . for Judah rejoiced over the priests and Levites who served. For they performed the worship of their God . . . together with the singers . . . For in the days of David and Asaph, in ancient times, there were leaders of the singers, songs of praise and hymns of thanksgiving to God. (NASB) Nehemiah 12:44-46

2 Chronicles 5:12-14 tells us the Jews included a variety of musical instruments in their worship. The worship of God often occurred in a building (Acts 2:46; Heb. 9:6) and it occurred on a Saturday or the Sabbath (Acts 15:21). But Jesus did not talk about a building, the day of the week for worship, or their order of worship.

Worship OccursVerse
When Gathered together . . .
as a groupActs 2:46
on Sunday – not the Sabbath Acts 20:7
even in a houseRom. 16:5
It Includes . . .
Reading, teaching & preachingActs 2:42; 20:7; 1 Tim. 4:13
CommunionActs 2:42; 1Cor. 11:23-26
PrayerActs 2:42
FellowshipActs 2:42
Singing, hymns, thanksNeh. 12:45-46
Voluntary giving1 Cor. 16:2
Our Response . . .
Fall to their knees1 Cor. 14:25; Rev. 19:10
Just lip serviceIsa. 29:13
Tradition or ritual Isa. 29:13
False TeachingMatt. 15:19

He ignored those issues. He did not talk about hymns or worship songs. He did not talk about organs, pianos, trumpets, drums, or flutes. The stained glass windows, or the cracks in the wall were not His interests.

True Worship

Jesus knew man’s heart. Men and women often do not worship God in truth or in spirit. We often worship in the flesh. We enjoy the worship music and think we have worshiped God. We like the ritual of the service and believe God delights in precise form. We love to hear the Word of God taught with power and feel the Holy Spirit has spoken to us.

Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote . . . (NASB) Isaiah 29:13

And behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not practice them. (NASB) Ezekiel 33:32

But that is not worship. Worship, praise and glorifying God occurs only when God’s Word is taught truthfully and our inner being responds with longing to honor, obey, exalt and thank Him.


He wants our heart to long for Him. The words of the songs should have meaning. Jumping, sitting, standing – nothing you do will express true worship if your heart is distant. We must honor Him by preaching truth. We must honor from our spirit – from inside, with a heart that longs for and reaches out to Him. Jesus said, ” . . . those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”


The wise men who visited Jesus as a baby came with one purpose – to worship.

Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him. (NASB) Matthew 2:2

When we come to Jesus we need to come with one purpose – to worship!