Worship should be the primary focus of all God’s children. While there are many different styles of worship within the church, God is not as interested in the style of worship we incorporate as He is that we are worshiping Him. Worship will be the primary focus in eternity – when we see Jesus our Lord face to face.
Worship can be defined as “worth-ship.” The degree to which we praise and worship God is the degree of His worth to us. If there is anything that God needs of us, it is worship.
Again, the are many expressions and styles of worship in the church today – and God loves them all. Many congregations get hung up on a certain type of worship, and seem to stick with that style only. God doesn’t want us stuck in rut in our worship. He can be praised in a myriad of different ways, and we should utilize them all. Here are a few expressions of worship found in the Bible.
Worship can be expressed in silence. We are challenged in scripture, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10 NIV). There are times when it is appropriate to worship God in silence. There is something about being completely still and calm before the Lord. At such times, you will often feel a sense of awe in His presence. We see a scene in heaven “When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour” (Revelation 8:1 NASB). This was the calm before the storm. The problem is, in most of our churches, we don’t have silent worship, but dead silence.
Praise is often expressed vocally. The psalmist encourages us, “Shout to God with the voice of triumph” (Psalm 47:1 NKJV)! This was done in both worship and prayer. The early church “lifted their voices to God with one accord” (Acts 4:24 NASB). When Judah was under attack, “The Levites, … stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel, with a very loud voice” (2 Chronicles 20:19 NASB). So worship was expressed with uplifted (loud) voices. As the Apostle John viewed a heavenly scene of worship, they were so radical in their expression, he “heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns” (Revelation 19:6 NKJV)!
Worship can be expressed with clapping (applause). Vocal expressions of worship were frequently accompanied with clapping. “Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph” (Psalm 47:1 NKJV)! Many churches clap while singing more lively praise songs. An offering of praise to God can be expressed by His people clapping and lifting their voices in praise. Some think this strange to do in church, but what do we do at ball games or any other times of celebration? We applaud by clapping our hands and shouting. How much more should applaud and celebrate the one who redeemed us from sin and shame?
We can worship God by lifting up our hands. The psalmist said, “Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name” (Psalm 63:4 KJV). Paul wrote to Timothy, “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands (1 Timothy 2:8 KJV). The lifting of our hands is a sign of worship, surrender and adoration. This was not invented by Charismatics and Pentecostals, but by God. It was a practice of worship in the Old Testament long before the birth of the church.
Praise can be expressed in song. This form of worship is used by most churches. In Psalms we read, “Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being” (Psalm 146:1-2 NASB). Paul wrote, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19 NKJV). There are different kinds of songs mentioned here – palms, hymns and spiritual songs. As in the church today, we sing hymns, choruses, and many of the new worship songs of our day. The point is, we are worshiping in song.
Instruments can be used to worship God. The book of Psalm ends with, “Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD” (Psalm 15:3-6 NKJV)! All instruments can be used in the worship of God. It says, “With loud cymbals; …. with clashing cymbals!” They really got into it. In another Psalm we read, “Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise” (Psalm 33:3 KJV). The only restriction is, it must be done “skillfully.”
There are some groups who believe you shouldn’t use instruments in worshiping God. They say it is because instruments are not mentioned in the New Testament. But the Bible says, “These things (in the Old Testament) happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction” (1 Corinthians 10:11 NASB). Though we are not under the law but grace, those things written under the Old Covenant were written for our example and instruction. In the heavenly scene, we see that each of the twenty four elders have a harp (Revelation 5:8). If instruments were used in the Old Testament and in heaven, why would God forbid us from using them in worship today? The answer is obvious – He would not!
Praise and worship can be expressed with dancing. Along with instruments, dancing is mentioned in Psalm 150. “Praise him with the timbrel and dance” (Psalm 150:4 NKJV). That would give a lot of churches today a coronary. David got so excited that he danced before the Lord with all his might. Michal, his wife, thought he was making a fool of himself and despised him. As a result, God struck her barren (2 Samuel 6). We should be willing to make fools of ourselves in worshiping God. God help anyone who mocks us for it.
All worship must be done in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). No matter how we express our worship, it can be (and often is) done in the flesh and not the spirit. We must seek to worship in spirit and in truth. All to often, our flesh is just worked up into a frenzy, and it has nothing to do with the Spirit. That being said, most worship begins in the flesh before it moves into the realm of the Spirit. We live in the flesh, and worship must begin somewhere – let’s be careful not to let it stay there.
No matter how we express it, we must put all we have into our worship. Read some of the heavenly accounts of worship (Revelation 4:8-11; 5:9-14; 7:9-12; 19:1, 4-6). They sang, fell on their faces before the Lord and put all they had into their worship of Him. The Psalmist said, “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name” (Psalms 103:1). Let’s express our worship of God with everything we have.