If I could teach my children only one thing, it would be to worship God. For when they truly worship God, my children will by nature attend church, seek prayer, find sin repulsive, consider obedience a privilege and extend love as a reflex.
What is worship? Who can experience it? How can I become a worshiper?
The Hebrew word for worship means to bow low or prostrate oneself. Our worship involves bowing before the Lord, not only physically, but in our hearts. It involves a reverential fear of God. The Greek word for worship literally means to kiss the hand of one who is revered, and it is used 59 times in the New Testament. The English word for worship has Anglo-Saxon roots and denotes one who is worthy of honor and reverence.
It is encouraging to know that for those who seek the Lord, He will be found. It is not necessarily those who study worship that enjoy His presence, but rather those who seek Him. The scope of worship seems to be both wide and narrow. We can consider prayer, giving, witnessing, Bible study, indeed any act of obedience initiated and led by the spirit of God, as worship. On the other hand, believers may consider worship to be one of those mystical events in which the supernatural is more than evident. I am inclined to acknowledge both. To a degree my works can express my worship of God, but there must come a point when God expresses himself to me in a personal, supernatural way. True worship always involves receiving from God, pouring His life into us.
While praise and worship are wonderfully related, the ministry of praise and the experience of worship are uniquely different.
1. Praise is acknowledgment. Worship is relational. Praise is one-way communication, an affirmation of God’s power, authority, wisdom and worthiness. Worship, however, is not only our confession of God, but His response to us.
2. Praise usually precedes worship. Praise is a means of coming into God’s presence while worship is what we do when we get there. Unfortunately, we often stop at praise without entering into worship. Praise is a means to an end, not the end itself. God’s presence is where we want to be.
3. Praise is situational. Worship is focused on the eternal. Praise is often initiated and focused on our immediate situations. During worship, however, our circumstances become insignificant as God becomes the object of our worship.
In praise we give to Him, but in worship we give to Him and receive from Him. (Rev. 3:20) Because of the reciprocal relationship in worship, the end result will always be a deeper commitment to God’s will and a renewed insight into His desires for our lives. God is concerned with our worship, and He doesn’t consider it to be optional in our daily life and practice.
Don McMinn, Ph.D. (with Kimberly Spring)
Executive Director of theiPlace.org
Entering His Presence: Experiencing the joy of true worship