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The true meaning of worship

By Angel Yong

As a Christian, worship stands at the core of believers’ lives, offering a pathway to experience God’s presence and express profound devotion. Most of us think of worship as a form of singing or dancing unto the Lord, but in actual fact, worship is much more than that.

What is worship?

We can define worship as a feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity. Other definitions include honouring or showing reverence for a divine being or supernatural power.

The origin of the term worship can be traced back to Old English — “worth-ship” or “weorþscipe”, implying giving value or importance. In a secular sense, the phrase also suggests giving something or someone esteem and respect. 

However, in a biblical sense, worship is expressed through prostration before a deity as described by its Hebrew term shachah. 

This means to hold something up with such reverence, honour, and esteem that your only desire is to bow down before it. God specifically mandates that the focus of this type of worship be toward Him and Him alone. 

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire. – Hebrews 12:28-29

It is a Biblical command that we worship God alone. Worship is an act designed not only to bring honour to Him but also to cultivate a spirit of obedience and submission in worshippers.

Is worship just about music, singing and dancing?

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.- Psalm 95:1-2

In modern day church services, we usually begin with a time of praise and worship. The Bible emphasises the significance of expressing our faith, love, and adoration for God through music.

Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Ephesians 5:19-20

In music, singing and dancing, the difference between praise and worship is in its focus. To praise is to thank God for the things He has done for us. It is an outward showing of thanksgiving to God. Worship, on the other hand, is a time to revere, adore and pay homage to God, not for what He has done but for who He is.

However, the act of worship is more than that. 

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness. – Psalm 29:1

1 Chronicles 16:29 further speaks of worship not only as offering praise and adoration but as a posture of reverence, humility, and surrender. We have to recognise and honour God for who He is, acknowledging His sovereignty and holiness.

And there are many ways to do so, more than just music and singing.

Worship is more than just music, singing and dancing. Photo: Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Reading Scripture, giving tithes and even serving the poor are forms of worship

There are various forms and expressions through which we can worship the Lord: 

  • Singing, Dancing and Music: Praising God through songs, hymns, and spiritual songs is a prevalent form of worship
  • Prayer: Engaging in personal or corporate prayer allows us to communicate with God, express gratitude, seek His guidance, and present our needs and concerns before Him.
  • Scripture Reading: Spending time with God’s Word, reading and reflecting on the Scriptures, is a form of worship that allows us to encounter God’s truth, gain wisdom, and deepen the understanding of His character.
  • Communion: Taking part in the Lord’s Supper, also known as communion, is a symbolic act of remembrance and thanksgiving for Christ’s sacrifice. By partaking in bread and wine (or grape juice) as a way of commemorating Jesus’ death and resurrection.
  • Tithes and Offerings: Giving financially to support the work and activities of the church and to help those in need is viewed as an act of worship. It is a demonstration of gratitude and trust in God’s provision.
  • Community Service: Acts of service and kindness towards others, motivated by love for God and fellow human beings, are considered acts of worship. This includes caring for the poor, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and imprisoned and more.
  • Fasting: Temporarily abstaining from food or other activities for seeking God’s presence, guidance, and breakthroughs through focused prayer and self discipline.

Worship is not a weekly ritual confined to a church service

It is a matter of the heart and a way of life. So how can we worship the Lord in spirit and truth in our daily lives? Here are some ways to get started.

Practise prayer and devotion: Set aside a regular time each day for prayer, reading the Bible, and meditating on God’s Word. Seek His presence and guidance, offering praises, thanksgiving, and requests.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law, he meditates day and night. – Psalm 1:2

Worship in community: Worship Goduns alongside fellow believers in church gatherings, small groups, or Bible studies. Encourage and support one another, sharing testimonies and experiences of God’s faithfulness.

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. – Matthew 18:2

Obey God’s Word: Obey God’s commands and live a life that reflects His character. Seek to honour God in your thoughts, words, and actions, allowing your life to be a testimony of worship and devotion.

If you love Me, keep My commands. – John 14:15 

Grow a grateful heart: Cultivate an attitude of gratitude throughout the week. Acknowledge God’s blessings, both big and small, and express thanksgiving for His goodness in your life.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. – Psalm 107:1

Be mindful of God’s presence: Cultivate awareness of God’s presence throughout the week. Remember that worship is not limited to specific times or places, but can happen at any moment as you acknowledge His presence and invite Him to be a part of your daily activities.

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. – Psalm 16:8

A grateful heart is a form of worship unto God. Photo: Simon Maage on Unsplash

While the Bible does not lock in ‘rules’ we must follow, it does caution against incorrect motives and attitudes in worship. Worship is not merely an outward practice but a reflection of our internal disposition. 

According to John 4:24, true worship is characterised by a sincere and genuine spirit and adherence to the truth. Our worship should therefore be offered with a pure heart, free from impure motives, as described in Romans 12:1, which refers to it as our “spiritual worship.”

Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. – Psalm 29:2

Cover Image: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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