According to the dictionary, worship is honour given to someone in recognition of their merit; the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity; great admiration or devotion shown towards a person – but what is worship to you?
For most of my life, I was confined to the notion that worship primarily consisted of singing and praising God for what He has done and for who He is. While this is true, it is only a fraction of what worship is; worship is much more than merely singing and praising God. Yes worship is the expression or reverence toward God, honour given to Him because of who
He is; “I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised” (2 Samuel 22:4), but there is so much more to it than just that.
What is Worship?
We worship God through the food that we eat, through the music we listen to, the clothes we wear, through the way we treat others, through the way we treat...ourselves. Everything that we do should be done to His glory, everything we do should be an act of worship. After revising my notion of what worship is, I now understand worship to be:
An outward expression of an inward experience
Worshipping God is much easier to do when things are going great: when He miraculously provided the funds for me to go to mission school, when He changed my exam date so I did not have to do it on the Sabbath. When He continuously answers my prayers and works wonders in my life, I am more inclined to praise Him, to trust Him, to obey Him, to worship and to proclaim to others how great He is.
But what about when life is a mess and your whole world is upside down and God does not seem to be there – will you still praise Him? Will you still trust Him? Will you still obey Him? Will you still worship Him?
From my experience, worship consists of three things: praise, trust and obedience.
Worship in the Bible
Hannah, after earnestly praying and pleading for a son, had her prayers answered by God and she conceived Samuel (1 Samuel 1). Hannah had tasted and seen that God is good, her act of worship, her outward expression of her inward experience was to glorify the Lord in prayer:
“My heart rejoices in the Lord; My horn is exalted in the Lord” No one is holy like the Lord, For there is none besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God.” - 1 Samuel 2:1-2
The children of Israel had a similar experience: after spending what seemed to be an eternity under captivity in Egypt, God delivered them out of slavery, and their enemies were engulfed by the Red Sea. As a result of such an explosive experience they praised God in song:
“I will sing to the Lord, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea! The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him. The Lord is a man of war; The Lord is His name.” - Exodus 15:1-3
Praise is a part of worship. We praise God because He answers our prayers, we praise Him because in Him we move and have our being, we praise Him because He has set us free from the bondage of sin, we praise Him because He is our salvation.
Yet it is easy to praise God when we have those mountain top experiences, when there is miracle after miracle, answered prayer after answered prayer but what about when you are in the dark valley of life – will you still praise God?
After committing adultery with Bathsheba, killing her husband Uriah and then having a child, David repented but had to deal with the consequences – his new born child died. David was suffering the consequences of his actions, which was a hard pill to swallow, but He had an inward experience with God no matter the circumstance. As a result, after losing his beloved son:
David rose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, changed his clothes, went into the house of God and – worshipped. - 2 Samuel 12:20
Job, a perfect man, in one day, lost his seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred oxen, servants, five thousand donkeys and all seven of his children. What was his outward expression?
“Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshipped.” - Job 1:20.
“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” - Job 13:15
An outward expression of an inward experience. Even if you lose something you hold so dear, will you still praise God? Will you still trust God?
Abraham after receiving what he longed for, a son, was told by God to go up to Moriah to sacrifice Isaac, his only son who he dearly loved, as a burnt offering (Genesis 22:1-2). Without thinking twice, he arose with his servants and when they arrived at the foot of the mountain, he said to them: “I will go yonder and worship” (Genesis 22:5). Abraham, the man of faith, called giving up what he loved, he called obeying God – worship.
Think about that for a moment...
When God asks you to give up something that you love, something so close to your heart, will you still praise God? Will you still trust God? Will you still obey God? Will you still worship God?
The truth about worship
Our outward expression, reveals the reality of what is really inside. Whether we have a genuine relationship with God or not. Abraham was a friend of God, Job had a deep rooted relationship with God, David the man after God’s own heart had an anchored connection with Him hence through his dark valley experiences he was able to proclaim:
"...though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” - Psalm 23:4
On the other hand, the Israelites, who may have looked like they had a deep experience with God, revealed their true experience with Him in their dark valley experiences. Whenever they were faced with difficulties, the first thing they did was complain and
moan at the One who had visibly manifested Himself to them.
What about Worship in my life?
At a young age, it looked like I had a relationship with God: singing in the choir, always attending Bible studies on time, answering all the questions...but this was all external. Internally I was hollow – I had no genuine relationship with God. Hence when I lost my mum at the age of ten, I left God. Why? Because I had no inward experience, I was not rooted and grounded in Christ. My outward expression, leaving God, testified of what was really inside – nothing.
It is during our crucible experiences, those rough patches, that we develop the characters that God wants us to have. When we praise God, when we trust and obey Him in those ‘dry’, cauldron moments – that is when God is best pleased.
Satan’s kingdom, Satan’s cause, is most in danger when we, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do God’s will, look around and there seems to be no trace of Him, He seems to have vanished. We cry out to Him and ask Him why we are forsaken, why has He left us alone – but through all of this, we still praise Him, we still trust Him, we still obey Him. In this God is well pleased.
Feelings are as a lens that distorts reality, God’s word is reality.
Whenever you feel alone or forsaken in the dark valley experiences remember the words of Jesus which apply to all of us:
“I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.” - John 16:32
No matter what situation you may find yourself in, bless the Lord at all times, let His praises be continually in your mouth (Psalm 34:1).
I am not sure what your inner experience with God looks like but He wants it to be solid, so grounded and rooted in Him that whatever may come your way you will still praise Him, you will still trust Him, you will still obey Him, you will still worship Him!
If you do not have a relationship with God, know this – the Creator and Sustainer of the universe desires you...yes you, for His friend.
Is it your desire to have a deep relationship with Him?
About The Author
I’m Douglas, but most people call me Dougiee. Currently working for my local church trying to show and tell my community about Jesus. I love spending time in nature and sharing God’s word, especially in writing, through the lens of my experiences.