What Does It Mean To Worship?
Our hearts are postured to worship. As Christ followers, we were created by God to worship Him. But we tend to offer our adoration and allegiance to people and things other than Him.
What is worship?
Merriam-Webster.com defines the word worship in this way:
To honor or show reverence for as a divine being or supernatural power.
To regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion.
In the Christian world, the word worship is often used to describe an event we will attend or the music part of a church service. We may use this word to explain what kind of song we are listening to or the type of pastoral role one holds on a church staff. It’s not that those are incorrect; they just don’t represent the whole picture. Worship is not about music, instruments or an event. It’s not about a type of song or a job description. It’s so much more than that. Worship is a heart posture.
In the simplest of terms, worship is ascribing unspeakable value and displaying substantial love to something. That thing may be a deity, an ancient artifact, a material possession or a human being. Regardless of what the thing is that we are worshiping, we are all worshippers.
So, what are we worshiping?
On any given day, we direct our adoration and devotion to something or to someone. It could be our careers, our spouses, a hobby, or a drive to learn more. It might even be our favorite sports team. There are things that hold a top position in our hearts. Before we can eradicate any thing that is receiving misplaced honor and adoration, first we have to be aware of what it is.
As we embark on the road ahead to learn more about a lifestyle of worship, begin each day with a heart attitude that wants to learn and grow. We typically worship what is high on our priority list. Let’s ask God to give us eyes to see where we’re placing our affection and respect. Let’s tell Him that we want to understand what it means to truly worship Him with our lives. And let’s be confident that He will show us.
Why should we worship God?
Isn’t it a comfort to worship a God we cannot exaggerate? — Francis Chan
The reason we worship God is because He is worthy of it. He is worthy of our worship, every single second of every single day. Everything that has breath was created to worship God.
On any given day, we often direct our worship toward something or someone that did nothing to deserve it. Only God is worthy to receive glory, honor and power, for He is the Creator of the Universe (Revelation 4). We should hold God in such high regard that we adore and cherish Him above all and before all. But in order for us to truly be able to worship God, we must know Him, or we must at least begin the lifelong quest of doing so. God’s Word, the Bible, is full of information about the God we serve. The Old Testament chapters in Psalms are infused with truths about Him, His character, and His ways. Here is just a glimpse into who He is according to many of them:
He is our Father, our God, our Rock, and our Savior. He is our Sun and our Shield. He is mighty, and established forever like the moon. He founded the world, He created the north and the south, and He rules over the surging seas. Our God is robed in majesty and armed with strength, and He is exalted over all nations. He fashioned the ear and formed the eye, and He determines the number of stars and calls them each by name. He does not treat us as our sins deserve, nor does He repay us according to our iniquities. He has compassion, He will not slumber, and He is big “G” God, greater than all little, so-called “gods.”
That is who our God is, and He is forever worthy of our reverence, adoration and devotion. His character is profound. His actions are remarkable. His sovereignty over the universe is unfathomable.
As Christ followers, let’s dedicate our lives to worshiping the only One who is worthy of it. For the next five days, we’ll focus on five ways we can worship God:
- We worship through music.
- We worship by adoring Him.
- We worship by serving His people.
- We worship by trusting His heart.
- We worship by surrendering our will to Him.
This list is not exhaustive; it’s just a springboard to help teach us to live a life of worship.
We worship through music.
Worship: Where God isn’t moved by the quality of our voice but by the condition of our hearts. — Chris Tomlin
We’ve mentioned that worship is less about an activity and more about a heart posture that holds God in the highest esteem. The place where God is at the top of someone’s priority list.
Typically, we spend most of our time worshiping God through music. And understandably so. We can listen to it in the car, at the gym, and at home. Clearly, music is a popular avenue to worship our Creator.
Worship is a divine appointment with our God. It is both an extravagant expression and a reserved stillness. It is singing, and it is silence. It’s being still and knowing He is God, and it’s celebrating with banners and dancing. It doesn’t matter what type of song we sing. Whether it’s from the most popular group in the worship music scene or a hymn written in the 1700s, the style is not what’s important — the condition of our heart is.
When we attend a weekly worship service, we might raise our hands up as far as they’ll reach. Or we may worship in a quiet manner, with eyes closed. Regardless of whether we’re physically dynamic or reservedly humble, our plethora of or lack of external countenance doesn’t give us the right to assume anything about anyone else. A lack of actions doesn’t signify an internal void, just as an abundance of them doesn’t mean we are über-spiritual. If our actions are only outward, that’s not worship. That’s a demonstration.
To worship is less about displaying an observable expression and more about possessing an inward disposition. A disposition that releases tightly clenched fists, in order to open them up to a God who wants to fill them with His incomprehensible peace and love. So, whether we lift our hands or fall on our faces, our worship should emerge from a heart postured to give God praise.
But worship isn’t for us. If we wonder what we’re getting out of it, then we’ve missed the whole point. Do we receive benefits from worshiping God? Sure. We may be experiencing a time of peace or swirling in a whirlwind of devastation. And when we worship, an unexplainable comfort and hope is ushered into our spirits. This unexplainable comfort occurs because worship adjusts our gaze, from the temporary to the eternal. Accurate words or clever phrases fall short in describing what worship does to our spirit when we offer adoration and thanksgiving every day, and especially on those days when we can barely lift our eyes to see the horizon.
Let’s make worshiping through music a part of our daily routine. We should fill our vacant moments with songs that incite us to worship our amazing God. He is always worthy of it.
We worship by adoring God.
We don’t worship God because life is good. We worship God because He is good! — Darlene Zschech
It’s easy to worship God when we have ample blessings in our lives, and when He says yes to our prayers. We can and we should worship Him for those things! But, first and foremost, we worship Him for who He is.
Did you know that God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent? What do these big “omni” words actually mean? Well, omni is a Latin root that simply means “all.” And while none of these words are actually mentioned in Scripture, they do identify the truth about God that we gather from it. Let’s dive in a little deeper to each of these attributes of God.
Omnipresent. God is “all” present. He is everywhere, all the time, close to everyone and everything. He fills all of heaven and earth. Often as Christ followers, we might pray, “God, please be with me today.” While the petition of God’s presence shows our need for Him, this prayer is actually unnecessary. He is already here and there and elsewhere and all over the place, all the time. What our request should be instead is, “God, please make me aware of your presence.”
Omniscient. God is “all” knowing. In regard to knowledge, there is no limit with God. He has it all, and He knows it all. Literally. There is not a second that goes by where God is not aware of everything. There is absolutely nothing that He should learn or have to think about. He is never caught off guard or surprised by anything, ever. He just knows. Mind blowing, isn’t it? And isn’t it comforting to know that God knows our needs before we even ask?
Omnipotent. God is “all” powerful. All power belongs to God. He possesses it all. He can do anything and everything. He never gets winded, and He never grows weary. His strength is never zapped, and He never has to take a nap. We may see impossible things in front of us, but with God, all things are possible.
It truly is phenomenal to even comprehend just a portion of who He is. That is where our worshiping Him for who He is should come easy. When we don’t understand something, just worship.
We worship by serving God.
It is impossible to serve God without serving one another. — Alistair Begg
Think about that for a minute.
In order to serve God, we have to serve the people around us. Why? Because God doesn’t need anything from us. Instead, He wants something for us. So He calls us to serve people. And we’ll never lock eyes with someone whom God doesn’t adore. Those are the people we get to serve.
We may wonder what we have to offer someone. God equipped us with distinct spiritual gifts before we inhaled our first breath. He formed each of us in our mother’s womb, and He knows every intricate detail of our being. And, He made us to operate in a certain way, so that others will be blessed and encouraged by our contribution. So, how we are wired is God-driven and God-ordained. Maybe you are:
- …an entrepreneur who knows how to execute the most remarkable plans.
- …people-oriented, and you know just what to say and do to bring comfort to someone in need.
- …a “behind-the-scenes” person, and you always ensure that tasks are done even if no one ever notices.
- …a hospitable person who knows how to make a room inviting and brings a calmness over others.
- …an amazing writer who is able to convey truths about God in ways that help others understand Him more.
Whether we stand on a stage in front of hundreds of people, meet with a hurting friend over coffee, perform a human resources role for our company, or pick up our children from the school carpool line, this is our act of serving God. We may be using our spiritual gifts to impact fellow believers, or we may simply be performing our daily duties: satisfying our earthly responsibilities is our way to serve God. It really is that simple. Why? Again, it’s less about our activity and more about our heart’s disposition. It’s not what we do… but why we do it.
Our aim in serving God is to bring Him glory. Whatever it is and however we’re able, we can serve God by serving others. Let’s commit ourselves to making a difference in the Body of Christ with our gifts, abilities and traits. It doesn’t have to be a full-time job, but it should be our full-time calling.
- Psalms 103, Matthew 23:11–12, Luke 4:8, 1 Corinthians 12:7, 1 Corinthians 15:58, Colossians 3:23–24, Hebrews 13:15–16
We worship by trusting God.
Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. — Corrie ten Boom
We trust so many things every single day of our lives.
We trust that the chair we sit in is going to hold us.
We trust that the food we eat is not going to make us sick.
We trust that the internet signal will be strong when we need it.
We know how to trust. Placing our trust in things we can see appears to be a relatively easy task for us. We just don’t always place our trust in the right things.
What if instead of placing our trust in ourselves or in something temporary, it became second nature for us to trust God in that way? Choosing to trust God as our first instinct rather than our last option invites deep, spiritual growth in us. Think of how peaceful our lives would be if this was our reality.
On the day when we don’t get the job we interviewed for, instead of believing that nothing good will ever happen for us, we choose to trust that He is good and He wants the best for us. When we feel overwhelmed with defeat and discouragement, instead of sinking further down into a hopeless abyss, we choose to trust that God is for us and is the healer of the brokenhearted.
So, how do we get to that place of trusting God wholeheartedly? It’s really very simple: by getting to know Him. We can’t trust someone we don’t know. And the way we get to know Him is by spending time with Him, reading His Word, surrounding ourselves with like-minded Christ followers, and immersing ourselves in His Truth. The more we learn of His character, His ways, His plans and His love for us, the easier it is for us to trust Him.
Trust and faith actually go hand in hand, and are often considered to be synonymous. The author of Hebrews writes that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” When we walk in faith and choose to trust God despite what every voice around us is declaring, we please God. This just might be the simplest way you can worship Him.
We worship by surrendering our will to God.
We must never rest until everything inside us worships God. — A.W. Tozer
That statement from Tozer is a tall order, isn’t it? “Everything inside us, God? Really? How about 73% of what’s inside us? Is that enough? Can we keep 27% of our own will, and do things our way?” We could, but it would be in our best interest to surrender all. Do not be misled: surrendering your will shows anything but timidity. It’s one of the most laborious things you’ll ever do. Yet, it can be one of the most freeing and peaceful acts at the same time.
We are blitzed, pestered, and harassed on every side with “stuff” that is vying for our attention. And not just stuff, but events, ideas, dreams, mindsets and plans that seem to be amazing. They appear to make sense in a society that has vaccinated itself against God. But God calls us to a higher standard.
One where we cast aside our own agenda for a higher purpose.
One that will introduce us to “His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
As Christ followers, we are called to fulfill His purpose, not ours. To love Him with our whole hearts, disregarding all else that competes for our devotion. To love others as much as we love ourselves. (And that’s a whole lot.) To make His name known, and to build His legacy, rather than ensuring that our name is known.
What if, in the midst of the temptations this world throws at us, we choose not to conform to the standards that everyone else seems to think are normal or, even worse, expected? What if we instead yield our will to what He calls us to do? We’re called to push all of our affection to a loving God who adores us — not to worship the material possessions that this world offers.
This God that we get to spend the rest of our days worshiping is good. His plans are spectacular, and He invites us to join Him. Even the most outrageous and dazzling ideas we have for a good life aren’t even in the same universe as the plans He has for us.
Our God is mighty, majestic, all-knowing, and non-slumbering. He is the founder of the world, the maker of the seas, the wind-rider, the star-namer, the sin-forgiver and the joy-giver. God is holy, good, great, and the healer of the brokenhearted. And He loves us so much.
Now, let’s spend the rest of our days worshiping Him.