What is Worship & Praise?

An overview of worship and praise.

A.  What is Worship?

  1. The English word worship originally meant “the condition of being worthy”. 
  2. The primary idea of the Greek word which is translated worship in the fourth chapter of John is reverence.
  3. What is God worthy of?  He is worthy of our reverence!  Let’s talk about what exactly this means. 

What Worship is not

First, let’s examine what worship does not mean.  True Worship may never be equated with the following words: dry, dead, boring, tradition, phony, passionless, heartless, joyless, formalism, or drudgery.

By the way, the last word means the following: dull, irksome, and fatiguing work: uninspiring and menial labor-Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

It is very possible to outwardly and formally honor God and not worship Him.  Isaiah 29: 13 “And the Lord said: "Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,”

What Worship is

Jesus taught what it meant to reverence God when He said that worship is concerned with spirit and truth.

The word spirit here does not mean the Holy Spirit.  Jesus is saying that true worship flows from our spirit.  In other words, worship is invisible and immaterial.  God honoring worship flows from the inner, invisible part of our human makeup.  Worship is a matter of the human spirit gazing God ward.   Psalm 103: 1 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!”

When a person reverences God in their spirit, they experience the following:

  • Humility:  Isaiah 37: 16 “O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth.”
  • Joy:  Psalm 16: 11 “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
  • Love:  Psalm 5:11 “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.”
  • Awe:  Psalm 33:8 “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!”
  • Peace:  Isaiah 26:3 “"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
  • Satisfaction:  Jeremiah 31:25 “For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”

The spirit that worships, reverences God in pain and in victory! 

Job 1:21 “And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

Jesus also said that worship must be done in truth.  This means that we must worship the one and only true God and do so with a soul captured by the truth of Scripture.

I Thessalonians 1: 9 “For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,”

Psalm 119:161 “…but my heart stands in awe of your words.”

Worship in short is being enthralled by the true God.

Worship of the heart is expressed in various ways: the way we talk, the way we pray, the way we handle money, the way prioritize the activities in our life, etc.  One of the ways that we express our worship is through singing and music.

B.  What is praise?

This is where we run into the word praise. Praise is the verbal, audible, and physical way we express our heart filled with worship to God.  Praise can involve, clapping, singing, shouting, dancing, talking, lifting our hands, and playing instruments.  Praise is the release valve for worship.

  1. Psalm 47:1 “To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!”
  2. Psalm 30:4 “Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.”
  3. Psalm 33:1 “Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright.”
  4. Psalm 150:4 “Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!”
  5. Psalm 35:28 “Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long.”
  6. Psalm 63:4 “So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.”