In Vain They Worship

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

God takes the matter of worship very seriously. It is not a light thing to come into God’s house, a place blessed with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified’” (Leviticus 10:3).

The Lord was saying, “I will not be treated as an ordinary person. If you are going to enter into my presence, you must come before me carefully and responsibly because of my glory and majesty.” So many mental distractions can take place during prayer and worship, especially when we are in the house of God. Jesus actually called people hypocrites who came into his presence mouthing words of praise but whose minds and hearts were preoccupied. He spoke directly to them: “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me’” (Matthew 15:7-9).

What about you? Most likely you are present in God’s house for at least an hour every week. So your body is in church but where is your mind? Your lips say, “I worship you, Lord!” but where do you allow your thoughts to take you during praise and worship? To family problems? Business matters?

You may argue that everything your mind focuses on is God’s business — your family, your obligations. Yet, keep in mind that the people Jesus addressed were worshipers who drew near to him with their lips, maybe even raised their hands and praised loudly. But where were their hearts, their minds, as they worshiped? If they were distracted in thought, then their worship was hypocritical — and worthless!

Do not take lightly his holy presence! We need to be mindful of the sanctity of God’s house and enter with a reverent heart.