Picture this. A father and daughter are sitting in their church pew on a sunday morning. Topic today: What is worship? The preacher talks about Psalm 23: ‘the Lord is my shepherd’. As an experiment he has asked several musicians to play that old Psalm from the Bible. In their own favorite worship style.
First one up is a cantor, a singer who solemnly sings the song without any musical support. Next is the organ player. He gives a slow and steady performance of the psalm and the congregation joins in. Up comes the lady with the harp, who sings and plays the song. Last is the worship band: drums, guitars, the violin and a saxophone. The lead singers get everybody up on their feet and singing along.
My question to you: what is the best way to worship God?
Best way to worship?
The father loved the organ and the daughter loved the band. And in that moment they both realized they were both worshipping God. That it didn’t matter what kind of music was played. What mattered was that they were both praising God in a way that suited them – and that all ways suited God. Now let’s talk about worship. What does it mean to be worshipping God? A certain music style or does it even transcend music? The best way to find out is to look at the Bible.
Worship music in the Bible
The Bible is full of music and people praising God. David being the most famous one. He was a musician himself and a great lyric writer. A lot of Psalms are written by him and he was known for playing the harp so beautifully. Read all about his love for worship in Psalm 95.
“Come, let us praise the Lord!Psalm 95
Let us sing for joy to God, who protects us!
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and sing joyful songs of praise.”
In the Old Testament the Hebrew word used for worship is shachah and that means to bow down, to prostrate yourself before a monarch or superior and bring homage. The Greek word proskuneo is used in the New Testament and it means to bow down and to kiss in adoration. In English the word worship is derived from worth-ship meaning showing what something or someone is worth.
Beyond the music
If worship means that you bow down to God, that you give Him homage and that you show how much you adore God, how much you think God is worth… Then do you see what is not mentioned? Music! Worshipping God goes far beyond your voice and music.
Don’t get it wrong: people loved playing music in the Bible and it is a very popular way of expressing feelings towards God – even up to the present day. Popular instruments in the Bible were instruments like the flute, trumpet, drums, shofar, lyre, harps, cymbals and the organ. Nowadays these instruments would be drums, bass, piano and guitars ;-).Music was played at happy and sad occasions. You’ll even find stories where God used music to ease the mood between hostile leaders with a harpist. And music was ultimately used as a way to worship God. To connect with God on another level.
Do you know what a lot of Christians claimed they missed the most about not being able to go to church during the pandemic? Singing together! Joining our voices together to create a big choir for God.
“Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise by singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. Always giving thanks to God the Father for all things, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”Ephesians 5:19
Do you have a favorite worship song to sing? That one lyric or melody that finds its way into your soul or lets your soul speak the words you can’t find yourself? Music has the power to speak to and from the heart. When music turns into worship, it’s a deep way to connect with God. But worship is so much more than just ‘feelin’ the music. It’s about thanking, honorering, and praising God. Exalting Him above all else.
Different ways of worship
Since worship transcends music, you can worship God in many different ways. In Romans 12:1 Paul writes about a ‘spiritual service of worship’.
“I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”Romans 12:1
You can honor God with your whole being. Not just those moments of musical praise, but by how you lead your life. You can show how much you adore God by loving those who God adores. How? Be there. Surround others with God’s love. Pray, listen, help out, support. Just be there. You can donate your time, knowledge, creativity, energy, money and your love to exalt God.
What did Jesus say about worship?
Let’s finish with some advice that Jesus wants to give you about worship. Be genuine!
“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”Matthew 15:8-9
In John 4 Jesus talks to a Samaritan woman. She wants to know where the best place to worship is found. You may wonder what the perfect church is to worship in. As a Samaritan she is used to worship at Mount Gerizim and she knows for Jews the city of Jerusalem is most important. This is Jesus’ answer:
“Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”John 4
What is a true worshipper?
Jesus talks about a true worshipper. What does that mean? Everyone can be a true worshipper. No matter what your background is. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or where you are. All God cares about is that you worship Him alone, in spirit and in truth. That you believe the truth of Jesus’ salvation. With body, mind and soul. You can be a true worshipper anyplace, anywhere, anytime!
So, what is worship?
Feeling connected to God through music is a beautiful thing, but worship is so much more than you feeling connected to God. Worship is an offering to God. It is a gift to God. And what is it we can offer to God? Obviously our time, but even more so our focus, our control and ultimately our life.
Be a great singer… or not. Know all the words… or not. Sing together… or alone. There are no set rules. No perfect way to worship. You can’t win a badge for ‘most helpful person’. All the good deeds in the world can’t earn you salvation. All He cares about is your heart. What about you? Are you a true worshipper?Do you want to learn about Jesus? Go to the website Jesus.net, an online library full of articles and videos about the Christian faith. Or you can make it easy. Get an inspiration devotional in your inbox every day by signing up for A Miracle Every Day.