Topic 19: How should we worship God? Question: Based on what you know from the Bible & other sources (including the Theology Matters reading), how do you think we should worship God? (Be sure to do more research into the issue. If the group cannot come to a consensus, feel free to have different group members each express their own opinions.)
When we consider how we should worship God, perhaps it would be best to start by asking another question. What exactly is worship? What does it mean in our day-to-day Christian lives? Does worship have one way, and one way only of being expressed? Or have we been so caught up in the arguments and conflicts surrounding worship that we have forgotten its true purpose? Suffice it to say that all of these questions have been asked repeatedly throughout history. It is our job as Christians to examine the information, understand what the Bible says about worship, and then implement what we learn into our lives. As you will see, we have discovered that worship is not just a song, a prayer, or a belief. Worship is a way of life, a command to honor Jesus Christ in everything we do because of what He has done for us.
(Kaitlyn Anderson) There are so many types of worship: singing, dancing, praying, reflecting, and fellowship. It is still important to remember that worshiping the Lord is not a talent contest. God does not care if you were the best alto in your third grade choir or the most graceful angel in the Christmas play. All He cares about is how sincere you are. Our minds need to be focused on Him and our hearts need to be at the center of our worship. This means that we cannot let the world seep into our time with God. Arguing about how things “should be done" and stressing over appearances of the service subtracts from the real reason you are there, which is to honor God. You need to be selfless in order to let God come in.
We are not only supposed to worship God by ourselves but with others as well. God designed the church to be a support system for his people. Worshiping with other believers helps you learn more about yourself and God; there is power in numbers. It is also encouraging and uplifting to be surrounded by people who love God and accept you.
Worship is something personal; it is between you and God. We need to find the best way that we can honor the Lord. To find the best way that you can praise Him is a challenge, and looking at how others worshiped is a good place to start.
Old Testament Worship(Lynn Williams)
Genesis 8:20-And Noah built an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast and clean fowl, and offered burnt offering on the altar: "The burnt offerings, offered up by Noah, which consisted of clean animals and fowls, consisted of the idea that God would give His all in order to redeem humanity, which would be in the form of His son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and that we, in turn, must give the Lord our all as well." If this would be the only reason to worship the Lord it would be the greatest reason of all. Another great example of worship would be in, 2Samuel 6:14-And David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was girded with linen ephod.David worshiped the Lord thru dancing before the Lord. Dancing before the Lord can be a great way to express the way we feel, therefore we worship the Lord thru just dancing before just as David did. I beleive David danced before the Lord to express the joy that he felt, that "joy unspeakable," that can only come from the Lord. King David is a great example of how to worship God. David worship the Lord with all his heart. Many of the Psalms reflect David’s passionate heart for worship.(Psalm 92:1-It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord and to sing praises unto thy name, O most high. "Singing is not an option: it is a commandment. "sing to the Lord a new song" (Psalm 96:1. This commandment is not reserved just for professional musicians; it is for everybody everywhere. The principal direction of all Christians, it can only be an act of worship."
Psalm 92:3-Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltry: upon the harp with a solemn sound:This is not uncommon way to worship the Lord in fact, we still worship the Lord in this same manner today. "Playing instuments to the Lord is just as forcefully commanded as singing." I beleive that we can worship the Lord thru instumental music, and it can be a very important part of worship. There can be many different ways that worship can be shown in the book of psalms shows variety of different ways to give praise unto the Lord as in,Psalm 84:4 and Psalm 66.Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah: Some would even worship the Lord by just being still and even in some churches still today they worship the Lord through silence or being still. It can be a part of meditation, to keep focus on the Lord, therefore also can be a way to express worship to the Lord.(Psalm 66) "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands", (v l). The element of praise is necessary in religious life. It is a mode of elevating the mind from mundane things in acknowledgement of the Deity. The use of music and hymns is of great benefit, as harmony is an essential part of group worship. The singing of hymns is relevant to all forms of religious activity. The Jews recognized the importance of music as a medium of prayer. For this reason, many of the psalms call upon us to sing in harmony with musical accompaniment, in praise of the Creator.
Worshiping is only reserved for God. Only He is worthy; we are not to worship saints, idols, angels, prophets, statues or any other false gods. Worship is done for God. Worship can be public praise to God.(Psalm 22:22-I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee).
There is no reason that we can not worship the Lord today, the way King David did. There are many ways that we can worship him. God has given us a voice that we might uplift him with prayer and praise. I believe that the Lord honors the praise and worship we bring to him. Some may prefer to sing, which is a very powerful way to worship, and also we can dance before the Lord. There are many people today that still dance before the Lord in spirit! But first and foremost, we need to worship in spirit and in truth.
New Testament Worship(Rachel Lorenz)
The New Testament shows how every aspect of our lives can be an act of worship. Matthew 2:11 says, "On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh." From the very beginning, the Magi knew that they needed to worship Jesus for no other reason than who he was. They wanted to honor him by giving him what was valuable in their lives. This is a guideline for us; we should give God our best because He is worthy of our most valuable treasures.
God's View of Worship Matthew 17:5 paints a portrait of how God feels about worship. It states, "While he (Peter) was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!"" During the Transfiguration, God wanted the disciples to understand that Jesus was (and is) the Son of God. When they understood this, worship and obedience came naturally. From this illustration, we see how our relationship with God plays a big part in our worship; closeness leads to worship because of love, not out of a sense of duty.
In the gospel of John, we find an often-quoted passage regarding true worship. John 4:23-24 says, "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." As believers, we can worship God anywhere, at anytime. But we must understand that the where of worship is not as important as how we worship. Jesus tells us in this passage that genuine, true worship is what pleases God. Unless we worship with a pure heart, comletely focused on God and what He has done for us, we are not treating God with the honor and reverence he deserves.
The Right Way to Worship Acts chapter 2 shows us how the early church worshiped God. The story begins in verse 45. "Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." All the basics are included in this passage: fellowship, communion, prayer, and charity! Yet it is not the actions themselves that make the worship effective. Rather, it the zeal and contagious devotion of the believers that turned these everyday actions into acts of worship.
1 Corinthians 14:15 evokes the seriousness of worship. It says, "So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind." We must be focused when we are singing or praying, reflecting on the words and engaging our whole self in the process. There is no possible way to half-heartedly worship. You are either completely focused on your Lord, or your mind is somewhere else. 2 Corinthians 12:10 ties in with these words: "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." At first these verses appear to be unrelated. But a close examination shows the common bond. If we focus on God and make His Name our top priority, then He will fill us with His power when we feel overwhelmed. With Him, we are much stronger than we could ever be on our own. Giving our whole selves to God is the best decision we will ever make.
Most of us are also familiar with the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians chapter 5. Verses 22-23 explain, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Living a life of worship leads to the development of these character traits. When we devote every action to God's glory, we further our knowledge of His love and essentially become imitators of Christ! The catch, however, is that we can't just go through the rituals and expect to grow in our relationship with our Lord. Intimacy with God is the only way to become more like Him, in knowledge and in love.
Worship as a Lifestyle
Romans 12-14 are often referred to as the “behavior chapters” because they serve as a guideline for how Christians should live. Since our lives are the utmost acts of worship, these chapters should definitely be at the top of our priority list! Verses 1 and 2 of chapter 12 say it best: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” We must also appreciate what each member of God’s family brings to the table. As Romans 12:4-5 states, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
Things we consider “everyday life” can also be acts of worship. Romans 13 talks about the importance of submitting to our governing authorities—it is even God-honoring when we pay our taxes! Verse 7 explains, “Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” Even inevitable disagreements can be handled in a way that pleases God. Chapter 14 tells Christians to “accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.” We are also instructed to “stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” It is my responsibility, as well as yours, to “make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (15:19). Without unity, the body of Christ will never reach its full worship-potential.
We also have a responsibility to care for the underprivileged and hopeless. No matter how much we proclaim our adoration and devotion, if we do not act out the love of God, our worship is meaningless. James 1:26-27 gives us the most important definition of worship: “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” When we are Jesus’ hands and feet to the world, our worship is completely God-focused. We are able to be in the world, and not of it.
In my opinion, the most powerful example in the New Testament can be found in Colossians chapter 3. Verse 17 especially captures the idea of worship. It simply states, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." How much more direct can you get? Our priorities need to be the same as God's priorities, meaning every single aspect of our lives honors Him! We are His representatives on earth, and if we do not live a visible life of worship, who knows how many souls will be lost? Let us live our lives in a way that brings Him the ultimate glory. Let's be the person that walks down the street with such a smile that everyone wonders, "What's different about him/her?" God deserves our best, and it's an honor to give our best...let's give him our lives!
What Worship Involves(Brittney Barnhart)
Worship is the act of adoring and praising God, which is ascribing worth to God as the one who deserves homage and service. It is an act of reverence and devotion, and the way to express our love and praise to Jesus. Worship also involves praise, adoration, awareness of God, humility, confession, forgiveness, contemplation, offering (an obedient sacrifice), thanksgiving, proclamation, dedication, commitment, and prayer, which is considered to be a very vital aspect of worship. (New ways in Christian Worship) Witnessing is worship because it is the outpouring to God and the outpouring to others around you as an act of worship. Prayer is above all about God is and what he wants. Praying with thanksgiving is worship. (Unceasing Worship) There are five different acts of worship. They include what we think about, what we do, what we say, what we eat, and what we spend our time doing. (Emerging Worship)
Worship is one of the most important callings of the Christian church, along with evangelism, education, mission, fellowship, servant hood, and emotional healing. It's not something that is done for us, but its something that is done by us. We can give praises and offerings of thanks to the Lord as an act of worship. When worship is given to God, it involves an acknowledgment of God's divine perfections. It presupposes that God is who he says he is, and that his perfections set him far above any other man.
The views of worship have changed throughout history. The two different types of worship currently present in our world today are contemporary and traditional. The use of arts and music can be used to express worship. Music is a tool for worship and can be used to bring others into an atmosphere of worship. However, performing and worshipping are two different things. The role of music in much of our worship is the contemporary equivalent of holding on to the high places in biblical times. "Instead of depending on the power of the arts to enhance their worship or bring it about, faithful worshippers can actually enhance the power of the arts by a faith-driven force of their worship."(Unceasing Worship)
There are four substitutes for worship in our contemporary culture. The first type is a lecture approach to worship, which emphasizes on the mind, learning, and education leading to worship mentality. The second type is evangelism, where preaching replaces worship. The third are overriding concerns of entertainment and number. Some examples of these concerns are the stage, the performers, the overall package, and the audience. The fourth type is a self-help approach, where you learn how to affirm and fulfill personal greatness. (Twenty Centuries of Christian Worship)
Worship is not only about God, but about Satan as well. When we worship, we continually disarm Satan. Worship never stops, during every moment of everyday; every person is bowing down or severing someone or something whether is for good or evil. Christians do not attend church to worship, they go to continue worshiping. "Worship is the continuous outpouring of the all that I am all that I do and all that I can ever become in light of a chosen or choosing god." (Unceasing Worship)
A worship war that is occurring is the one between God and Satan. It relates to us by whether we are being in Christ (saved) or in Satan (sinner). Although it is not our battle to fight, it’s the Lord's battle; we play a vital role in the battle. (Unceasing Worship) We still need to be able to stand against the distractions from their worship. All worship outside of the worship of God through Jesus Christ, is idolatrous. Idolatry is the chief enemy of the most fervently worshiping Christians, even to the extent that some may end up worshipping worship. (Unceasing Worship) Anything that is inhibiting or distracting a person from worshipping God with all they have and all that is within them, needs to be taken out the picture. We were created to worship and glorify God in all we do.
We unanimously agree that worship, while incorporating many different symbols, actions, and beliefs, is best defined as an offering of your life to God. Living for Christ is the only way to live, and the true purpose for our existence! When we worship Him with our entire being, we fulfill what He created us to be and witness to others in the process. Jesus is the perfect example of how to worship God, and His example is the one we choose to follow!
Bailey, Robert W. New Ways in Christian Worship. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press. 1981.
Best, Harold M. Unceasing Worship: biblical perspectives on worship and the arts. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 2003.
Kimball, Dan. Emerging Worship: creating new worship gatherings for emerging generations. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2004.
Webber, Robert E. Twenty Centuries of Christian Worship: Book 1. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers. 1993.
Webber, Robert E. Worship is a Verb. Waca, TX: Word Books. 1985.
Zondervan. King James Bible. Ed. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Gen.8:20, 2Sam.6:14, psalm 66:1-2, psalm 92:3, psalm 84:4, psalm 22-22, psalm 92:1.
Zondervan. Life Application Study Bible, New International Version. Ed. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, Michigan. 2005.
Roberts, John Commentary on the old Testament,robertsj/oldtest.html.
Swaggart, Jimmy. Jimmy Swaggart Bible Commentary,Genesis. World Evangelism Press. Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 2003.
Best, Harold M. Music Through The Eyes of Faith, 1st ed.HarperSanFrancisco. New York NY. 1993.