‘They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity.”’ Mark 12.14
God does not seem to take kindly to flattery! Those who sought to trick Jesus by asking whether or not it was right to pay taxes soon discovered that somehow he was able to see right into their hearts and was well aware of their motives.
It is a sobering thought that when we come to God in worship it is not simply the words coming out of our lips that he hears, but also the thoughts of our hearts.
All too often we are told that it is good to begin a time of prayer with worship, so we dutifully do this. Somewhere at the back of our minds is the thought that God might be more inclined to hear our prayers if we worship him beforehand! However, God can probably see through this just as he could see through the false flattery of those who sought to trick Jesus!
Worship is not about buttering God up so that he might be more kindly disposed to our requests, but is the response of our hearts to who he is, and us opening ourselves up to his wonder – regardless of whether or not we feel like it. Even if we feel wretched, worship is turning to God in absolute honesty and saying, “Here I am. You are everything the Bible says of you, and I need you.”
This is why we sing songs and hymns of praise, so that we can come to God, just as we are, and declare the wonder of who he is.