Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day
The light of nature demonstrates that there is a God who has lordship and sovereignty over all. He is just and good and does good to everyone. Therefore, he should be feared, loved, praised, called on, trusted in, and served—with all the heart and all the soul and all the strength (Jer 10:7; Mk 12:33). But the acceptable way to worship the true God is instituted by him (Dt 12:32), and it is delimited by his own revealed will. Thus, he may not be worshipped according to human imagination or inventions or the suggestions of Satan, nor through any visible representations, nor in any other way that is not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures (Ex 20:4-6).
Religious worship is to be given to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and to him alone (Mt 4:9-10; 28:19; Jn 5:23)—not to angels, saints, or any other creatures (Ro 1:25; Col 2:18; Rev 19:10). Since the fall, worship is not to be given without a mediator (Jn 14:6) nor through any mediation other than of Christ alone (1Ti 2:5).
Prayer with thanksgiving is an element of natural worship and so is required by God of everyone (Ps 65:2; 95:1-7). But to be acceptable, it must be made in the name of the Son (Jn 14:13-14), by the help of the Spirit (Ro 8:26), according to his will (1Jn 5:14). It must be accompanied by understanding, reverence, humility, fervor, faith, love, and perseverance. Prayer with others must be in a language that is understood (1Co 14:16-17).
Prayer is to be made for lawful things and for all kinds of people who are alive now or will live later (1Ti 2:1-2; 2Sa 7:29). But prayer should not be made for the dead (2Sa 12:21-23) nor for those known to have sinned the sin that leads to death (1Jn 5:16).
The elements of religious worship of God include reading the Scriptures (1Ti 4:13), preaching and hearing the Word of God (2Ti 4:2; Lk 8:18), teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord (Col 3:16; Eph 5:19), as well as the administration of baptism (Mt 28:19-20) and the Lord’s supper (1Co 11:26). They must be performed out of obedience to him, with understanding, faith, reverence, and godly fear. Also, purposeful acts of humbling with fasting (Est 4:16; Joel 2:12) and times of thanksgiving should be observed on special occasions in a holy and religious manner (Ex 15:1-19; Ps 107).
Under the gospel, neither prayer nor any other part of religious worship is now restricted to or made more acceptable by the place where it is done or toward which it is directed. Instead, God is to be worshipped everywhere in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:21; Mal 1:11; 1Ti 2:8)—daily (Mt 6:11; Ps 55:17) in each family (Ac 10:2) and privately by each individual (Mt 6:6). Also, more formal worship is to be performed in public assemblies, and these must not be carelessly or deliberately neglected or forsaken, when God by his word or providence calls us to them (Heb 10:25; Ac 2:42).
It is the law of nature that in general a portion of time specified by God should be set apart for the worship of God. So by his Word, in a positive-moral and perpetual commandment that obligates everyone in every age, he has specifically appointed one day in seven for a sabbath to be kept holy to him (Ex 20:8). From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ the appointed day was the last day of the week. After the resurrection of Christ it was changed to the first day of the week, which is called the Lord’s Day (1Co 16:1-2; Ac 20:7; Rev 1:10). This day is to be kept to the end of the age as the Christian Sabbath, since the observance of the last day of the week has been abolished.
The Sabbath is kept holy to the Lord when people have first prepared their hearts appropriately and arranged their everyday affairs in advance. Then they observe a holy rest all day from their own works, words and thoughts about their secular employment and recreation (Isa 58:13; Ne 13:15-22). Not only that, but they also fill the whole time with public and private acts of worship and the duties of necessity and mercy (Mt 12:1-13).