Defining Worship

By John McDonald

It is sad that today “worship” is seen as a matter of how a “church meeting” is structured, or, defined as to the types of songs sung in a meeting. In fact we call the meeting a “service”, where did that idea come from, maybe to ease the conscience and think that a meeting for 60 minutes or so is serving God, well that doesn’t cut it, for it isn’t. Thinking it is about a style of song, i.e. songs that are slow and or that make you close your eyes in reverence. After all we employ ministers as “Worship Leaders”, and we say, we are now going to have “Praise & Worship”.

All this really means is that worship has been hijacked by the musicians. I love those songs just as much as anyone, but it isn’t what worship is.

Another idea which is within the Pentecostal/Charismatic world I generally mix with is that walking around with hands raised and speaking in tongues is worship. This is due to the misreading of John 4:23, “For the Father is looking for those who will worship Him, in spirit & truth”, which has nothing to do with tongues. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not knocking tongues, I believe in it and do speak in tongues frequently. How many times have we done what we P/C’s do, thinking we are worshiping God, and we didn’t do what He asked us to do yesterday, let alone last week, or last year. If we think just because we “feel good'”praying in tongues with our hands raised that God accepts it, then we are mistaken. This isn’t worship.

These things could not be further from the truth, as worship has nothing to do with a service or music, rather it is something so far from these things it isn’t funny. Again I love music. I sing and want to make a CD. I favor songs that have solid theology and a tune that touches my heart or moves me, songs that carry an anointing. I even use the cliché term “praise & worship”, old habits die hard, but that is not what worship is.

What Worship is:
Worship in the Hebrew is expressed by the word:

H7812 shâchâh pronounced shaw-khaw’ A primitive root; to depress, that is, prostrate (especially reflexively in homage to royalty or God): – bow (self) down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do (make) obeisance, do reverence, make to stoop, worship.

In Greek the word is, as we find in John 4:

G4352 proskuneō pronounced pros-koo-neh’-o From G4314 and probably a derivative of G2965 (meaning to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand); to fawn or crouch to, that is, (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore): – worship.

Firstly, worship has in focus the “position” of one beginning the act of worship, to bow down, to prostrate oneself.

In relation to this, I was always taught that we don’t do that in church (bow or prostrate) but do so in our heart. This is just plan nonsensical, as would be “praise” being done in our heart with nothing coming out of our mouth, or what about giving an offering, I’m giving it in my heart, but putting nothing in the offering receptacle.

In Psalm 22 it speaks of He who “inhabitest the praises of Israel”.

The word praise has within it the idea of “high praise” or praise that has built up to a crescendo. “Inhabitest” has within it the meaning ‘to be seated’ or ‘enthroned’. Thus the Lord is enthroned on the high praises of His people.

The idea of the king sitting on the throne indicates that He is getting ready to hold audience, and/or to commission one.

When I had led the praise time at churches in the past, I would at times give a concept of what worship was. Facing the congregation I would say, picture the wall behind me as a moving wall. As we begin with thanksgiving, then move into praise, finally arriving at a time when our praise have reached a crescendo, suddenly the wall would open up and there you would see the King on His throne.

What would you do?
There is only one answer and that is, we would fall flat on our faces, prostrating ourselves. We would not move but remain before Him, regardless of how long it was, out of fear/awe and reverence to Him.

This is the beginning or position of worship
At some point in time He would say arise, still with our head bowed….the beginning of the action of obedience to His command, and is the continuation of worship.

Finally the King in His command to arise, would also say “go do”. We would back out never turning our backs to Him, for that is a sign of disrespect, until we were out of His sight, and in obedience to Him would fulfill our commission, then return bowed with the reward in our hands and lay it at His feet.

This is worship in the true sense. It is the act of obedience to the King and the return of the result of obedience to Him.

The problem today is that seldom do we understand that “obedience” is the result of a heart change.

* Obedience is what distinguishes between the First and Last Adams.

* Obedience, not sacrifice, is what pleases the Father.

* The very essence of faith and/or trust is so that we can obey.

The difference between the Old and New form of worship
In the Old Covenant worship and/or obedience was based external law, tablets of stone. Whereas, the New on the other hand is from the heart, for His Law/Word is engraved on our hearts of flesh, because the Living God and King dwells in us, not among us.

Copyright: John McDonald 1/2011

John is available for ministry appointments on a love offering basis.