“If you take away worship from Christianity, it will not last long” -J.F. White
Worship is at the centre of Christianity.
Worship is what keeps creatures connected to their creator.
Worship is defined as total surrender, total commitment, total dependence, & total confidence in God.
Our worship is theocentric in nature, meaning that God is the object of our worship. In worship, we give ourselves to God and God gives himself to us. This is the reason why many worshippers leave the place of worship feeling released, relieved, elevated, comforted and blessed because worship is an internal state of being which is expressed externally through performance. Hence, our worship to God must involve all our thoughts and all our emotions and all our body.
In Psalm 34:1, David says “I will bow down to the Lord, bow down always and constantly speak his praises”, it must be understood that as we bow down, our hearts are continually raised to God. We often allow other people to impose and define our relationship with God and by so doing we surrender our own innate, God given ability to respond to God through worship. When we look at the life of the worshipper today in contrast to the above mentioned verse, we come to realise that we have sacrificed personal worship for corporate worship. Yet, worship is intimate and personal, between God and the worshipper before it is corporate. No church should prescribe how one should respond to God in worship and adoration, that prerogative should be left to the dictates of the indwelling spirit of God.
The scriptures are very clear on worship. There are several Hebrew words found in scripture that describe the attitude and art of worship. In this article, we will not do an exhaustive morphological analysis of the words but simply give the meaning and the reference:
1. Halal – to boast, to brag. To brag about God to a point of appearing foolish. This is an outcry of excitement to God (Psalm 63:3-4).
2. Tehillah – to sing ALOUD (Isaiah 61:3, Psalm 22:3).
3. Guul – to spin around under the influence of a violent emotion (Psalm 32:11, Psalm 118:24).
4. Todah – the extension of hands I’m adoration (Psalm 35:9).
5. Chagag – to move in a circle, to celebrate in a dance (1 Samuel 30:16, 17).
6. Karar – to dance. David dances before the Lord with all his might while wearing line ephod (1 Samuel 6:14).
7. Macha – to rub ; to strike hands together; to clap (Psalm 47:1, Psalm 98:8).
8. Barak – to kneel down, to give reverence (Psalm 96:6, Psalm 34:1).
From these scriptures we are shown how versatile worship is and the only reason we are limited in our expression of worship is because of other people’s preferences and impositions. These Hebrew words for praise and worship describe in detail that worship is both the internal state of being and the outward performances expressed in various ways including making a loud noise, lifting of hands, going around in circles, clapping of hands, kneeling down, dancing, jump for joy and paying attention. All these are the various ways in which we can express ourselves in worship.
“The only reason we are limited in our expression of worship is because of other people’s preferences and impositions” – Pastor Luvuyo Veli
I am intrigued by the Greek version of worship (proskuneo) which means to pay homage to the divine. It has an idea of a person who is continually crawling towards the object of their worship. It is indicative of a dog that kisses the hand of its owner. It denotes that worship is a continual expression of appreciation to God for creating and sustaining our lives. Worship is a sacrificial service of good things to God and to others and this is the idea embedded in patreo and traskeia. (Read: Acts 7:42, Acts 24:14, Phil 3:3, James 1:26-27)
Worship must be enjoyed in silence and through loud music, through ceremonies that appeal to the spirit of the worshipper. Worship must appeal to the spirit and to the senses of the worshipper. Worship is a command from God. God’s nature, his initiatives and his actions appeal to the spirit within us and our natural inclination is to worship.
There are several elements of worship that I pray every worshipper is ever encompassed in:
3. Acts of goodness
6. Studying the Word of God
Because ultimately worship is an experience and not religious ritual.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pastor Luvuyo Veli holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theology from Helderberg College. He has been in the Pastoral Ministry for fifteen years. Currently he is serving as Pastor at Cities of Refuge, a christian church based in Johannesburg. He is also a business man, a devoted christian, a prayer warrior but most importantly a loving father and husband.
We want to thank Pastor Veli for his practical approach to worship.
After the songs have been sung, prayers uttered and sermons preached, at the end of it all worship is an experience that an individual worshipper enjoys. This experience transcends any rules set by any Chrisitian tradition from a denomination of the worshipper’s choosing, because worship is not a corporate exercise but an individual’s response to the person of God.