We talk about worship as if it only happens on stage. Worship, to many of us, is the music that plays before the sermon at church. But worship isn’t limited to a 15-minute set of songs. It is so much more than songs we sing.
Worship literally means “worth-ship.” To worship is to attribute worth to something; to give reverence and high admiration to something or someone. As Christians, worship is the act of attributing worth to God.
Sometimes we worship in song. The lyrics talk about God’s attributes and faithfulness toward us. But worship extends to every thought and action with which we spiritually agree. Our lives are marked by what we worship: Everything we do reflects our focus. Yet it is so easy to slip into a counterfeit worship—one that focuses on things, relationships or human success rather than on God Himself.
God created us, giving us life, purpose and a chance to experience the world. Most of all, He gave us hope of eternal salvation. To worship anything but God is to willfully deny His gracious gifts and efforts to love us. The enemy knows we wouldn’t directly choose to worship someone other than God, so he uses distraction and otherwise “good” things to pull our devotion away from Him. As we commit more and more time to distraction than to devotion, we begin to worship at another altar instead of at the foot of the cross.
Because of this spiritual battle for worship, we must be intentional. We have to make worship a part of our lifestyle; it must become a pattern in our lives. But this isn’t a “buckle down and just do it” behavior. Worship is the automatic response to God’s grace.
The grace of God is so great and overwhelming that the response of saints throughout the Old and New Testament was always a response of worship. The same goes for us! In order to worship God consistently, we must be exposed to His grace. We accomplish this by opening God’s Word and seeking Him in prayer—the two places God’s grace can always be found. The book of Psalms is a great place to begin:
I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together. (Psalm 34:1-3)
I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord;
I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.
Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. (Psalm 71:16-17)
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands. (Psalm 63:3-4)
These psalms, written by David, are words of worship that were then set to music. Even without music, the words have been spoken for thousands of years. When we choose to worship God, our words of praise give testament to His everlasting faithfulness—a love that crosses centuries and outlives our years.
If you sense a lack of worship in your heart, it’s never too late to begin again. Ask yourself:
- Have I exposed myself to God?
- Have I recounted His recent faithfulness?
- Do I believe He is who He says He is and can do what He promises?
Acknowledging God’s goodness is worship. God is gracious. He loves you, and choosing worship is simply your way of saying, “I love you, too.” Worship can be done even when we don’t feel like it—quite often, as we worship in every circumstance, our feelings will catch up with our actions! But the first step to worship is always exposure to God. When you encounter this kind of grace, you can say with the psalmist: “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.”