Worship is mentioned initially in Scripture in Genesis 22:5 when Abraham is taking Isaac up to Mt. Moriah. Interestingly enough, worship and sacrifice go hand-in-hand. The last Biblical reference to worship is found in Revelation 22:9 where we are told to worship God. We need to be very careful that we do not fall into the trap of worshipping worship or worshipping styles of worship. Yes, there may be a worship style or flavor that matches our personality, but beware of becoming addicted to that personal bent.
The purest form of worship is spontaneous, Spirit-led and Spirit-filled songs from your heart to God, apart from any accompaniment at all. In fact, technically speaking, worship is a lifestyle, whereas praise is the overflow of that worshipful relationship. Many of the psalms clearly reveal an atmosphere of celebration and triumph – Psalm 81:1,2 and Psalm 150, to name only a couple. Instrumentation certainly can assist us in praise. However, let us never substitute inspiration with perspiration, or anointing with volume.
Only a worshipful heart is anointed to praise. Again, worship is a lifestyle of consecration to God. When the devil tempted Jesus to bow down and worship him, he wasn’t requesting a song; he was requesting submission to his will. Jesus replied that submission to the Father is true worship. God is worshipped in the beauty of holiness, which results in an overflow of praise to God that is not limited to time, location or accompaniment. Our King desires us to have this beautiful relationship with Him and considers that as worship.
The fact is, we should be worshipping God all day long. We merely gather to praise Him at various times during the week. The only things that can hinder praise are either our preference of style or a wayward heart. In Psalm 137, Israel couldn’t sing unto the Lord because they were in a strange land. Sinful attitudes will hinder praise.
Remember Abraham in Genesis 22 – sacrifice and worship? See how this ties in with Romans 12:1? In fact, the Greek word translated as “service” in Romans 12:1 also means worship, and comes from a word meaning “to minister to God, i.e. render homage”. Bowing down to God or kneeling may indeed be bodily positions of praise, but the only acceptable posture for worshipping God is in the heart. We worship God with the voice of thanksgiving because of who He is. There should be no need of outside stimulation to praise the Lord. Don’t misunderstand me. Preferences of worship style are fine, but those preferences should not prevent us from praising the Lord anyway.
Can you see that songs of praise are an overflow of a worshipful lifestyle? So we can make a connection between true praise and Scriptural living. Jesus said that the Pharisees were worshipping the Father in vain because of their “worship” of man’s commandments.
The last five Psalms all begin with “Praise ye the Lord.” Creation itself is exhorted to praise the Lord. (I wonder what instruments are used.) Wholehearted praise stems from wholehearted love. Each one of us has been given psalms at one time or another.
True praise only requires one thing – the presence of God.