Corporate Worship and Prayer

Description

The Bible does not reveal many details about worship practices in the early church, but it was clearly a practice associated with corporate worship of God and remains the primary means to foster corporate spirituality.

The New Testament says surprisingly little about worship in the church. In fact, the book of Revelation speaks more about the worship of God than Acts and the epistles combined. The most explicit passages in the epistles about corporate worship are Ephesians 5:19-20 and Colossians 3:15-16:

". . . speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father . . . ."
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."

Even in these passages, part of the purpose of the “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” is to teach and admonish one another. The worship dimension is most clearly connected with corporate thanksgiving to God.

Nevertheless, worship has always been a central component of corporate spirituality, and the early church quickly assimilated and adapted elements of synagogue liturgy. By the second century, the liturgy of the Eucharist (derived from eucharisteô, “give thanks”) or Holy Communion, became the central vehicle of corporate worship, and parts of this ancient liturgy are still in use today.

Many Christians in the last century have erroneously equated worship with music (and generally with a particular kind of music, whether traditional or contemporary). Music is indeed a meaningful component of worship, but other elements, such as corporate prayer, the ministry of the Word, and communion have always been important components of worship, and it is a mistake to reduce the whole to one of its parts.  In recent years, a growing number of evangelicals have discovered the value and power of liturgical worship. Liturgy embeds us in historical tradition and practice, and it can foster a sense of awe, wonder, mystery, and majesty. 

This is taken from Ken Boa’s Handbook to Spiritual Growth.

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