honest worship


It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.

John 4:23–24 (MSG)

Love Expressed

Take a few moments and imagine what a typical church worship experience might look like if you were to observe it from the outside.

You tentatively peer into the room and see an environment filled with people lifting their hands, singing songs exuberantly and expressing their love with all their might. Your eyes continue wandering across the room until they eventually come to rest on a few individuals who seem to stand out from all the rest. As you look at them, your heart slowly begins to stir, because there’s something in their expression that’s very different but still incredibly authentic. You surprisingly find yourself actually drawn into their worship.

And then, thoughts start swelling through your mind: Why are they different? Do they know something about worship I don’t? After a moment though, you feel an overwhelming sense of peace settle your thoughts … and then you hear a still, small voice— the Holy Spirit. With gentle whispers to your heart, He begins to calm the questions in your mind.

I desire truth and sincerity … and deep down inside I teach you wisdom. (Psalm 51:6)

Then you hear His voice again.

I am near to all who call on Me … to all who call on Me in truth. (Psalm 145:18)

As you process through His words to you, the word truth rings out deep inside. You pause for a moment and ask the Holy Spirit if that’s what He desires for you to hear. Suddenly, you feel a quickening in your heart assuring you this is what He’s speaking to you. Something within you compels you to be bold. And so you ask Him: “Holy Spirit, will You search my heart and show me anything that offends You? And then, will You lead me along the path of truth and everlasting life?” (Psalm 139:23–24)

As the Holy Spirit responds to your plea, He is full of grace, but He is also honest. Conversations, images and thoughts all flicker through your mind. It’s evident the Holy Spirit has done exactly what you asked Him to—He’s revealing the things in your life that need to be cut out or given over to Him. But then the Holy Spirit starts encouraging you. And when you repent and ask for forgiveness, the sin that has been holding you back and hindering your worship is suddenly … gone.

Worship is like a mirror—it reflects your relationship with God. It doesn’t matter whether you’re worshipping in public or you’re worshipping in private, how you worship is a crystal clear thermometer that accurately reflects the depth and passion of your relationship with your heavenly Father. And when you have an open, honest heart, you know you can approach the throne of God with boldness and total freedom.

I feel like David mastered the art of utter honesty and truthful communication with God. If you read his psalms, you find every emotion from anger and confusion to trust and love, sometimes only a sentence apart and all expressed directly to God. David also worshipped God with that same kind of total abandon and honesty. He held nothing back. And the Bible describes him to be “a man after God’s heart.” David was a man who worshipped in truth.

I encourage you to take a page from David’s book. Don’t cover up or hide what you’re feeling from your heavenly Father. Follow David’s example … start expressing your heart openly and honestly as you worship your King.

If you read the book of Psalms, you will find that David often begins his songs by describing a bad situation. It’s OK to be real with God. David (who authored most of the praise songs in the Bible) always acknowledges the reality of his situation, but that never stops him from bringing an attitude of gratefulness, faith and praise to God.

Zach Neese


Lord, I want to worship You in honesty and truth. I bring You every part of my life—even the ugly parts—and lay them at Your feet. I submit my joys, successes, frustrations and failures to You. I want You to shape my life, so I trust in You and leave my life open before You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


  • What uncomfortable thoughts and feelings do you leave out of your worship and communication with God? Bring them before Him just like David did.
  • As you practice truthful communication with God, listen to what He has to say and allow yourself to be shaped by Him.

For Further Study

  • 1 Chronicles 29:16–17
  • 1 Samuel 12:23–25 (MSG)
  • Psalm 51
  • Psalm 139:23–24
  • Psalms 142–143
  • John 4:23–24
1 Chronicles 29:16–171 Samuel 12:23–25 (MSG)Psalm 51Psalm 139:23–24Psalms 142–143John 4:23–24
John 4:23–24 (MSG)