What is worship and praise? Why do we need to do it and how do we do it?
In section 7 we looked a bit at what we are saved from: sin, death and the wrath of God. But what are we saved for? This takes us back to the question why did God create us in the first place? Let’s look at some possible answers.
Why did God create us
I would like to recommend reading The Story of His Glory by Steven Hawthorne. Although quite a long essay it is well worth a read. It changed my view of God and our reason for existence. Steven Hawthorne suggests “People are saved to serve God in worship” (p.51).
Now I can feel you reacting and saying do you mean we will sit on clouds playing harps for eternity? Absolutely not. That concept came from the medieval view of worship and has become a popular satirical view of heaven.
God created us to serve him (Deuteronomy 6:13). The word serve is often taken in the context of obeying a master, being a servant or a slave. But, to serve has many meanings: to work for, to assist, to obey, to satisfy, to please, to host, to meet requirements, to give food, to be useful. But God is most interested in our heart, our motives. If you do something out of a heart of love for God that is true service and true worship.
Who do You Serve?
You may say “I do not serve anyone but my self”. The reality is though, we live in one of two kingdoms. We either serve sin or we serve God. Jesus said:
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:34-36)
Sin is a cruel master. Our desires tempt us to sin but that leads to death (James 1:15). All of humanity sins. There is no one who is good, except God (Mark 10:18).
Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8)
But, Jesus sets us free from the slavery of sin to serve God. So to serve God has many aspects (Psalm 2:11; Psalm 100:2). Some people think serving God is being a minister or a missionary. But we can all serve God through having a heart that loves him in all we do. A heart that has a fearful reverence for his majesty, power and might (1 Chronicles 29:11), yet knows him as the self-sacrificial good shepherd (John 10:11). That is worship.
What is Worship and Praise?
“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)
One of the ways to worship is to understand that God has given you life and to worship him you give your life back to him. He gifted you with life and you gift your life back to him. Oswald Chambers put it this way:
Worship is giving God the best he has given you
God is spirit and he breathed his spirit into mankind. When he created Adam he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). Now breath is the very power that enables speech. Now with our speech we can vocalise our worship and praise for God. We can tell him how wonderful he is, we can sing how wonderful he is. We can tell other people of his greatness, his faithfulness, his steadfast love (Psalm 89:1). This is an expression of our worship and praise. But it has to come from the heart.
He [God] is transforming them to become people who can fully love Him. God is
drawing people as worshipers to offer freely to Him their love-inspired glory. (Steven Hawthorne)
Through our spirit we express the love we have for God when we have learned the truth of his love for us.
How do I Worship and Praise
If you can get to a church you will find that usually there is a fair bit of singing, talking and praying. It has been suggested there are 185 songs in the Bible. There is a lot of Hebrew poetry in the Bible. The old Testament is estimated to be about one third Hebrew poetry. God uses poetry to express his heart. We in turn use poetry to give God praise. The songs, hymns and psalms we sing are all poetry put to music.
But as mentioned above the other act of worship is serving God. You often express your love for a person by what you do for them. Jesus said something interesting. If you read Matthew 25:35-40 you will find the Lord saying when you do something for someone who is in need you do it for me.
Our whole lives can become an act of worship. As we have a devoted loving attitude towards God and towards those around us. Jesus summed it up as:
And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)
Heaven is a place that is full of worship and praise:
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. (Revelation 5:11-14)
God is worshiped and praised because he is worthy to receive honour, glory and blessing not for what he had done but because of who he is.