However, adoration in prayer isn’t quick, easy or natural. Perhaps you pray in the same way you shower in the morning – as a matter of routine and as quickly as possible. Would it not be wonderful if prayer was altogether different – more like an evening bath than a morning shower, so that our time in God’s presence becomes a long soak instead of a quick wash? David’s desire was to “behold the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:4). If we make that our earnest prayer, and follow these guidelines, our times of prayer will more often be times of heartfelt adoration.
Adoration is led by the Spirit
God expressed displeasure in those who drew near to Him with their mouths, and honoured Him with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him (Isaiah 29:13).
In contrast, Paul writes in Philippians 3:3 that we “worship God in the Spirit”. This indicates that true worship can only be done in the power of the Spirit of God.
Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden resulted in the fall of the whole human race: everyone is born with a nature in rebellion against God. We are all therefore, by nature, haters and enemies of God (Romans 1:30; Colossians 1:21).
God could never enjoy us, and we could never enjoy Him, apart from the new life given by His Spirit (Romans 8:5-9). When we are born again we receive the Holy Spirit, who opens our eyes to appreciate the glory to which we were blind before. As a result we find we want to draw near to a God we previously dreaded. We feel comfortable in His presence and captivated by His majesty. It is the Spirit of God who produces this. If, then, we want our worship to be real and our adoration fresh, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit and walk in His power (Ephesians 5:18-20).
Adoration is wed to the truth
In John chapter 4 the Lord Jesus had a remarkable discussion with a Samaritan woman. She had asked about the differences between Jewish and Samaritan worship, to which He replied that God wanted people to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Worshipping in spirit contrasts with the outward (and often empty) form of Jewish worship; worshipping in truth contrasts with erroneous Samaritan worship. We all need an accurate conception of God in order to worship Him aright.
If we are going to adore God, then we need to make sure we adore God, that is, the living and true God of the Bible, not a deity we have invented. If someone compliments you on features you don’t have, or praises you for things you haven’t done, it doesn’t matter how fervently those words are spoken, they won’t honour you, because they aren’t true. Similarly, false notions of God bring Him no honour, no matter how eloquently or earnestly expressed.
Adoration is fed by the Bible
For worship to be “in truth” we need the Bible, because that alone reveals the full truth about God. Although much can be learned about God from creation, even more can be discovered only by divine revelation. The Bible constitutes God’s perfect self-disclosure. Reading in scripture the story of redemption and the glory of the redeemer we are instructed in the truth about God, and as a result the Spirit of God will move us to adoration.
Your prayer must be firmly connected to and grounded in your reading of the Word. This wedding of the Bible and prayer anchors your life down in the real God.1
Adoration is bred by meditation
We live in an impatient culture. This militates against worship, because real worship demands time; that is to say, we need to meditate on God’s word.
A passage that seems dry or basic can burst open if we just turn it over in our minds.
For example, think about the first two words of what is often called “The Lord’s Prayer” – “Our Father”. Those words can be easily passed over, but think them through. Think of all a father should be to a child; then revel in the fact that God is all that to you because you have been born into His family. He is not just your creator, and He will never be your judge, but He is your Father. You may fail, you may wander, but you will always be His child. Consider too that He is “our” Father – you share this relationship with every Christian, for there are no "only children" in God’s family. You have multitudes of brothers and sisters. You might also ponder why the Lord Jesus Himself never addressed God as “Our Father”. Rather, He spoke about and to Him in a way unlike anyone else in the Bible – “My Father” – for the Lord Jesus has a unique relationship with God. These few thoughts spring simply from thinking about two words; and God has given us a whole Bible to think about.
If we walk in the power of the Spirit and spend time in the word, thinking about God’s truth, frequent, fresh adoration will arise from our hearts to God.
- Timothy Keller, Prayer, Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, Hodder, 2016, p. 56.