What Is Worship?
Worship expresses "worthship."
Worship recognizes the preciousness of God. Glories surround His presence and His character, because He is glorious. Worship says what our hearts can't contain. "Lord, You are worthy to adore, esteem, magnify, exalt, and revere. Receive all glory, and honor, and blessing." Our saying it does not make it so; we say it because it is so.
Worship is personal loving relationship.
Worship begins with "God is..." Worship freely and intimately expresses a loving relationship with Him. David said, "I love you, O Lord, my strength" (Ps 18:1). Worship is the essence and simplicity of true love and mutual adoration. It is the deep connection that our hearts long for with a loving Person. It involves commitment of ourselves to our Beloved and His commitment to us. To cherish our Beloved is our highest privilege, calling, and obedience. By that kind of worship, we will be changed by beholding Him.
Worship is in spirit and in truth.
Worship is with the heart, as well as with understanding. Jesus said, "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" (John 4:23-24). The Message says, "Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself-Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration."
Worship is the response of deep calling unto deep.
Worship is the place where Spirit calls to spirit, where deep calls unto deep. The psalmist said that he panted for God as a matter of life and death, as a running deer pants for water. "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God¼ By day the Lorddirects his love, at night his song is with me-a prayer to the God of my life" (Ps 42:1-2,8). Music speaks the language of the spirit, but worship need not be musical.
Worship reflects what we believe about God.
The crux of worship is to trust by faith that God is able before we have evidence, simply because He is trustworthy. Job revealed that he was a worshiper when everything he had was gone, and yet he said, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised" (Job 1:20-21). Job did not lose his heart-bent toward God later in great physical affliction and betrayal by his friends. He said, "Though he slay me, yet I will trust him" (Job 13:15). That is one of the most profound worship statements in the Bible. If we do not trust Him, we do not understand Him, and therefore we will not worship.
Worship flows from truth about God in His Word.
Theology should inspire doxology. In Romans 11:33-36, Paul ended his three-chapter sermon with doxology. It is set apart as a hymn in many translations. The Bible is saturated with hymns, like Ephesians 1, with a three-fold chorus of "to the praise of His glory, to the praise of His glory, to the praise of His glory." As Warren Wiersbe said, "When exegesis fails, I worship."
Worship is awe-filled, because God is awesome.
Worship is awe and wonder before the Lord of our lives. Worship feels the mystery of Christ in us, the hope of glory. It may be expressed out loud or unexpressed in the deepest chords of the heart and soul. At times we, like Moses, may want to hide our faces because our human frame cannot stand His glory so near. Awe-filled love begs deep-felt expression. "Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation" (Ps 95:1).
We are saved to worship.
The apostle John wrote that we were freed from our sins by the blood of Jesus to worship the living God. "[He] has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father-to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen" (Rev 1:5b-6). People abiding in God's sanctuary live continually worshiping (Ps 84:4). Our lives as a service of worship will reflect the glory of God (Ps 29:9). We are worshipers of Him first and workers for Him second.
Our worship depends on God taking the initiative by His Spirit to make Himself known to us.
In His WordGod reveals His ways, His works, and His names. When His name is precious to us, His glory will be precious, and worship will be inevitable, because the Spirit dwelling in us reaches out to worship Jesus. Paul said, "We worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus" (Phil 3:3).
Only humility worships God.
Worship says, "God, You are big. In fact, You are everything. You must increase; we must decrease." No one can boast before Him; no flesh can glory in His presence (1 Cor 1:29). When we are humbled in the presence of God, we will worship, and when we worship, we will be humbled in His presence. Our life with Him deepens as we bow in worship. In 1 Chronicles 21 an obscure Old Testament character, Ornan the Jebusite, spoke profound worship at the threshing floor where David built an altar that prefigured the temple. Ornan said, "I give it all." When God takes us to the threshing floor, it is always a time of surrender that blesses His heart. In worship, we give our all.
Worship involves self-surrender.
It dethrones self. We submit, He draws near. We see Him, we lose sight of ourselves. Worship is self-forgetful.It springs from renouncing self as our idol. In Exodus 34:14 God says, "Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." Worship is the orientation of our lives toward One who is jealous for our affection. Worship bows down before God in dedication, submission, and sacrifice. We enter into the sacrificial heart of Jesus with our brokenness.
Worship springs from gratitude.
Worship is our grateful response to the grace of God. It is gratitude for the totally undeserved work that the Lord Jesus, Father God, and Holy Spirit have done for us (Col 3:16b).Selfishness and self-seeking will never worship. Worship gazes on God and His ability to answer.
Worship requires presenting clean hands and a pure heart before holy God.
When we know Him as holy, we know how much He values clean hands and a pure heart to approach Him (Ps 24:3-4,6). We are exhorted to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness (Ps 29:2, 96:9), to worship at His holy hill (Ps 99:9), and to worship toward His holy temple (Ps 138:2). We fall on our faces before the infinite holiness of God. Then we see His incomparable holy mercy, forgiveness, faithfulness, and restoration. The Bible says, "Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience ..." (Heb 10:22).