Many people are unfamiliar with the phrase “praise and worship”, so I thought it best to shed some light on this topic. God created us with the ability to make instruments and use them for his glorification. So if you love to sing or make music, this message is also for you because our God loves music just as much. We all have a natural instinct to praise and worship, and the reason for this innate desire will be discussed later. In my blog “All about Prayer”, I mentioned that prayer can also be done in the form of praise and worship. Paul tells us to admonish and speak to each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for the glorification of God (Ephesians 5:19-20; Colossians 3:16-17). In other words, we use music to express to each other and to God how good and powerful he is. What makes a song pleasing to God? I believe it to be the heart behind the song, and the words or lyrics used in the song.
Words are an important key when it comes to praising God (Psalm 19:14; Proverbs 10:32; Ephesians 4:29-30). With the new generation songs available, it is important to pay attention to the emotions or thought patterns (can affect your soul and spirit) these songs provoke within us. However, my aim is to get you to understand what it means to praise and worship God because I believe this will take your relationship with God to a new level.
What are Praise and Worship?
The English Oxford Living Dictionary defines praise as an expression of warm approval, admiration, and gratitude towards a deity, especially in song. In simple terms, it means to reveal our hearts to God through songs. When we praise God, we are constantly professing his glory, goodness, love, power, sacrifice, wisdom, grace, mercy and authority. In the bible, other words used to mean praise include; exalt, confess, extol, glorify, magnify, bless, thank (Psalm 18:46; Psalm 23; Psalm 34; Psalm 63:3-8; Matthew 11:25; Luke 5:25; Romans 7:25; Hebrews 13:15-16).
The Greek and Hebrew words for worship are Proskyeno (to kiss the hands of one who is worshiped) and Shachah (to bow or prostrate not just physically but also in our hearts), respectively. Worship is the highest form of reverence and honor (bowing down, pay respect) to God Almighty and it requires every part of our being (body, soul, and spirit) (Deuteronomy 6:5). We reflect the true nature of Christ when we live a life of worship. How? This is done by showing our willingness to commune with God and to put him first in every aspect of our lives. Worship is relational, it is intimate, it goes beyond words and feelings and it comes from our innermost beings (Romans 12:1-2).
Praise and worship is not a spectacle, it has nothing to do with the ambiance of a place or a church setting but about the heartfelt words that glorify God (Matthew 12:34; Acts 16:25; Hebrews 13:15-16). I would like to share with you my first experience of true praise and worship. Many years back, I began to feel like everything about church became mundane and I got comfortable just going through the motions. Soon, a friend invited me to a youth get together that her church was organizing. I am sitting in the pews and the choir says “it is time for praise and worship”. Then the song lyric (by Ron Kenoly) goes this way “We humbly bow, before you now, we lift our lives up to you. On our knees we bring, our humble offering of worship and honor and praise. Boldly we come to your throne O Father but only by grace can we come. We’ve been bought by the precious blood of the Lamb. We lay down our lives before you Jesus, we willingly give you all. As humbly at your feet we fall. For it’s the highest place of all, O Lord”. I began to feel my chest rise and burn within, tears are welling up in my eyes, so many emotions ran through my head, and before I knew it I began to cry. I asked my friend what was happening to me and she said: “you have just felt the Lord Jesus in a whole new way”. I was in awe of this feeling even though I still could not describe it.
Later that day, it dawned on me that although I had given my life to Christ I began to take him for granted. So what I experienced in the church was my need for the Savior Jesus and this is exactly what praise and worship are to me. God loves praise and worship but he doesn’t need it because he is all-sufficient (God possesses within him endless qualities, power, and supernatural ability. He lacks nothing and is all complete) (Colossians 2:9-10). We praise and worship God because we realize how much we need him and in those moments we draw from him energy, breath, and supernatural life force (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Why is it important to Praise and Worship God?
A life of praise and worship is essential to our walk with God because it reminds us of who God is. Our relationship with God should not just be a once off thing; rather it should be continuous and consistent. God must be the center of our devotion because he created us for the purpose of worshipping him alone (Psalm 150:6; Isaiah 43:7; Isaiah 43:21; John 4:23; Romans 12:1; Revelation 4:11). C.S. Lewis said “Only in acts of worship and praise can a person learn to believe in the goodness and the greatness of God. God wants us to praise him not because he needs or craves in any sense our flattery, but because he knows that praise creates joy and thankfulness”. Praise and worship saturates every part of the scripture from Genesis to Revelation (Genesis 1; Exodus 20:2; Isaiah 61:11; Jeremiah 13:11; Psalms; Matthew 4:10; Matthew 5:16; Luke 1:46-55; Ephesians 1:6; 14; Philippians 1:11; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 4:11). There are various reasons to praise and worship God;
- God is great and only he is worthy of our praise (Luke 4:8).
- Praise and worship is not just instinct, it is a command from our heavenly Father (Psalm 150:6).
- Praise and worship allow us to experience God’s love in a special way.
- Praise and worship put us in a place to receive God’s blessings (Psalm 17:5-6). This way we experience peace, joy, wholeness and answered prayers from the throne room (Psalm 100:4)
- Praise and worship help us grow in our faith. Our lives change from the inside out despite the circumstances we meet.
- As we devote time to worshiping God, we begin to understand the heart of the Father and our thought patterns become more positive (Isaiah 61:3). We are reminded of how mighty God is compared to the problems we face.
- Praise is an essential weapon against every satanic bondage (Acts 18:25-26; 2 Corinthians 3:17).
How are Praise and Worship done?
John 4:23 says “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks”. Who is the truth? Jesus says in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. So, believing and knowing (having a relationship) Jesus Christ is the only acceptable way to worship and praise God.
Praise and worship can be done in the privacy of your home or at church, and there are no set protocols for it. No matter where you are at in your walk with God, it is important to set out time for praise and worship. I realized that just like prayer, praise and worship requires a total focus on God (meditation). With our busy lives and crazy schedules, it has become difficult getting our minds to relax. How do I do this? You can start by praising God with songs because this takes my mind off the worries of the day (2 Corinthians 10:5). Praise puts you in a place where you surrender every thought to God, thus quietening your soul. David says in Psalm 131:1-2 “My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with the great matter or things too wonderful for me. I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content”.
Once you find that quietness in your heart, then you can begin to have a heart to heart with God. You can go ahead and look for biblical stories that give you an insight into the heart of the Father. Examples are; the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), the woman caught in adultery (John 8: 1-11), Paul meets Jesus on his way to Damascus (Acts 9:1-22). Remember, worship is communication with God on a deeper level. You will gain more by listening to God more than you speak. Someone might say but I have never heard God speak so how will know when he speaks? Do not be quick to finish up or make anything happen. Take your time to build this relationship, and with time you will recognize God’s voice (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2).