Worship That Ascends to the Throne of God (Thurs. Oct. 27)

The word of the day is “Spirit.”  In our reading of Philippians 3:1-8, St. Paul warns again about the Judaizers who would persuade the Philippians to be circumcised to become true Christians. The Apostle cautions that circumcision is merely an outward sign in the physical body, the “flesh.”  What counts is the “circumcision of the heart,” as the prophet Jeremiah declared” (Jeremiah 4:4). To this Word of the prophet, Paul adds, “…and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter” (Romans 2:29).

Worship Inspired and Empowered by the Spirit

If so, Paul can say without hesitation, “We are the circumcision.”  St. John Chrysostom asks, “Which is superior, the soul or the body? the former. Therefore, that circumcision [of the soul] is also superior, or rather, no longer superior, but this is the only circumcision…” (NfPf1: 13). The Apostle says that those of this spiritual “circumcision” worship God “by the Spirit,” as the oldest manuscripts put it. The Holy Spirit inspires and empowers their worship and brings it straight to the Throne of God.

On the other hand, those who concentrate on the outward act rather than the spiritual meaning of worship have “the form of godliness” but “deny its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). That is, they make an outward show of their piety but inwardly disregard its inner, spiritual activity. Of this kind of piousness, the Lord said, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing” (John 6:63). Physical acts of prayer, prostration, fasting, vigil, worship, and even charity alone without a sincere spirit are useless.

For Reflection

James 5:16 draws the contrast to such spiritless worship and prayer. The Apostle writes, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” We don’t have to shout or put on a show of piety to get God’s attention. Fruitful prayer is not a matter of volume. The whisper of our hearts reaches the ears of God in an instant.

About Fr. Basil

Now retired, the Very Rev. Archpriest Basil Ross Aden has served as a parish priest, parish pastor, diocesan mission director, writer, and college teacher of New Testament and Religious Studies. He has a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Chicago and has published daily devotional and stewardship materials as well as a college textbook on Religious Studies. He also has published papers and/or lectured on the Orthodox perspective on Luther and the Reformation. religious freedom, current issues of religion and society, and St. John Chrysostom. He is married to Sandra and has two sons and three grandchildren. He is still active as a priest as well as a writer of articles and materials on Orthodoxy and topics of faith and life today.

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  1. Love hurts!
    As Our Lord Jesus Christ showed us from His Cross!

    I am in great pain for my beloved husband, who is seriously ill in hospital, and I am tossed between hope and despair that God will not let him depart this life without him being saved and secured for the next life.
    May God use the infection of his heart for good, and replace his heart of stone with a heart of flesh.

    It is a great comfort to hear that God always hears the “whisper of our hearts” and can act in an instant.

    God bless you and your ministry, dear Fr Basil.

    1. Dear Sinneka: may the Lord grant you the peace that passes all understanding in this critical moment. Be assured that the Lord Jesus not only hears your cry for mercy but shares in your sufferings–and that of your dear husband. At such times, it is such a blessing to commend ourselves and one another–and our loved ones– to the gracious Lord. By all means continue to pray earnestly in the firm faith that the Lord is willing and able to hear your prayers and to answer them according to His good will. I join you in your fervent prayers for your husband and and His salvation. God bless. In Christ, Fr. Basil

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