Andrew Murray: ‘In Spirit and truth’

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“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).

These words of Jesus to the woman of Samaria are His first recorded teaching on the subject of prayer. They give us some wonderful first glimpses into the world of prayer. The Father seeks worshipers; our worship satisfies His loving heart and is a joy to Him. He seeks true worshipers.

True worship is that which is in spirit and truth. The Son has come to open the way for this worship in spirit and in truth, and to teach it to us. So one of our first lessons in the school of prayer must be to understand what it is to pray in spirit and in truth, and to know how we can attain to it.

Worship in the spirit must come from God Himself. It was for this He sent His Son—to fit us for such spiritual worship by giving us the Holy Spirit. It is of His own work that Jesus speaks when He says, “The hour is coming,” and then adds, “and now is.”

The worship of the Father is only possible to those to whom the Spirit of the Son has been given. Worship in spirit is only possible to those to whom the Son has revealed the Father and who have received the spirit of Sonship. It is only Christ who opens the way and teaches the worship in spirit.

And in truth. That does not only mean “in sincerity,” nor does it only signify “in accordance with the truth of God’s Word.” The expression is one of deep and divine meaning.

Jesus is “the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). In Him the blessings and powers of the eternal life are our actual possession and experience. Jesus is full of grace and truth; the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth; through Him the grace that is in Jesus is ours in deed and truth, a positive communication out of the divine life. And so, worship in spirit is worship in truth—actual, living fellowship with God, a real correspondence and harmony between the Father, who is Spirit, and the child praying in the spirit.

The knowledge of the Fatherhood of God, the revelation of His infinite Fatherliness in our hearts, the faith in the infinite love that gives us His Son and His Spirit to make us children, is indeed the secret of prayer in spirit and truth. This is the new and living way Christ opened up for us. To have Christ the Son, and the Spirit of the Son, dwelling within us and revealing the Father—this makes us true, spiritual worshipers.


Adapted from “With Christ in the School of Prayer,” by Andrew Murray. Work is in the public domain.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version. 

Andrew Murray (1828-1917) was a South African writer, teacher and pastor