The Mystery of Liturgy Herschel
Some have suggested that liturgy or a structured approach to a religious service, quenches the Spirit of God.
But, does this hold up to the evidence of scripture?
1 Now there were in the church at Antioch aprophets and bteachers cBarnabas, Simeon who was called Niger Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, a lifelong friend of eHerod the tetrarch, and Saul.
2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting fthe Holy Spirit said g“
Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul hfor the work to which I have called them.”
3 Then, after fasting and ipraying they laid their hands on them and jsent them off.
Have you ever considered how they worshipped in the second Temple period? How did they pray? Was it spontaneous prayers or did they pray liturgical prayers? There is a clue in verse 2:
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting fthe Holy Spirit said g
“Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul hfor the work to which I have called
Now, the Greek word for ‘worship’ is λειτουργέω (leitourgeō) (G3008) which means
‘to perform religious duties; to serve, to minister”. Related words are
Obvious, the English word for ‘liturgy’ has it roots here. To liturgize is ‘to worship’, to minister to God'. And the Holy Spirit was in the liturgy and instructed those who were worshipping God in and through the liturgy.
We are informed that the LORD is seeking those who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth. It appears that liturgy therefore, is appropriate to fulfil this instruction.
It appears then that the sin of quenching the Holy Spirit lies elsewhere. When the word “quench” is used in Scripture, it is speaking of suppressing fire. When believers put on the shield of faith, as part of their armoor of God (Ephesians 6:16), they are extinguishing the power of the fiery darts from Satan. Yeshua described hell as a place where the fire would not be “quenched” (Mark 9:44, 46, 48). Likewise, the Holy Spirit is a fire dwelling in each believer. He wants to be expressed and revealed in our actions and attitudes.
When believers do not allow the Spirit to be seen in our actions or we do what we know is wrong, we suppress or quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). We do not allow the Spirit to reveal Himself the way that He wants to.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-20
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray without ceasing,
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
19 Do not quench the Spirit.
20Do not despise agprophecies,
21 but ahtest everything; hold fast what is good.
22Abstain from every form of evil.
Therefore – and I offer this as my opinion – it is the omission of these deeds that subdue and snuff out God’s Spirit in our midst, not liturgy! If the Spirit of God moved after the Lord’s ascension and His disciples were worshipping and praying the Jewish liturgical prayers, perhaps we should learn from this and have our minds accordingly renewed.
Ephesians 4:30 tells us that we should not grieve the Spirit. We grieve the Spirit by living like the pagans (4:17-19), by lying (4:25), by being angry (4:26-27), by stealing (4:28), by cursing (4:29), by being bitter (4:31), by being unforgiving (4:32), and by being sexually immoral (5:3-5). To grieve the Spirit is to act out in a sinful manner, whether it is in thought only or in both thought and deed. Both quenching and grieving the Spirit are similar in their effects. Both hinder a godly lifestyle. Both happen when a believer sins against God and follows his or her own worldly or carnal thoughts and desires.
Therefore, liturgy cannot be a source of quenching the Holy Spirit. However, as someone once remarked, 'liturgy can be a wonderful tool but also, it can be a terrible master'. The key to unlocking the mystery of liturgy lies in the human heart. I have seen people drawing nearer to the Lord through the door of liturgy and simultaneously, I have noticed leaning against the wall chewing gum. Guard the treasure in your heart and draw nearer to the divine Presence.