In its most basic sense, everything that one does is worship. One is either engaged in the worship of God, or the worship of an idol. This idol can be oneself, a job, family, TV, or anything else that keeps one from worshipping God. When one does engage in worship of God, one can worship God in a proper manner, or in an inappropriate manner; a manner which is in truth, unworthy of God. “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31. True worship then is “not about me” but about God. Worship however goes further than that. Worship is not “now” centered, but is focused on the eternal kingdom of God, as seen in the Lord’s model prayer: “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10.
In a broader sense, worship is a corporate act wherein fellow believers come together for the purpose of honoring God. This can be done through prayer, singing songs, testifying about what God has done in one’s life, preaching the Word of God, giving thanks, and giving offering, to name a few. Worship is not only praise that is directed toward God, but adoration displayed as a testimony to others as well as teaching others to honor and glorify God. One of the greatest misconceptions of the church in America is that “worship” is an hour long service on Sunday Morning. Another misconception is that “worship” is the singing that proceeds the preaching. A third misconception is that “worship” is about what that individual likes or wants.
The term “worship hour” has come to mean 11:00 AM on Sunday Morning when most Americans meet at Church. It is tragic to think that this is the only time that one can or should worship God. Just as in the life of the believer, everything that the Church does as a body is worship. When the Church has a fellowship meal, it is worship. When the Church has a business meeting, it is worship. Albeit, when a fight breaks out at a business meeting, it is not God that is being worshipped. Whether the Church meets on Sunday morning, or Sunday evening, or Wednesday evening, whenever they meet, it is worship. It is foremost that the Church learns that “worship” does not stop at 12:00 PM on Sunday, and it is foremost that their pastors teach them this. If lunch on Sunday afternoon is more important than God, then the “worship” that took place from 11:00-12:00 has been nothing but idolatry. One might conclude that if it were true worship, the Church would not be conscious of the passage of time. In fact, Exodus 34:11 teaches that Moses was on Mount Sinai worshipping the Lord for forty days and forty nights without food or water, and yet the “Church” cannot “worship” for more than an hour.
“Worship” is more than just singing songs. One should not be confused, worship does involve singing songs, but it is more than that. David declares that one should sing to the Lord a new song (Psalm 33:3). In fact, Exodus 15:21 and 1 Chronicles 16:23 declare that one should sing to the Lord. There are at least 32 references in the Bible about singing. However, one is also told to “lift up holy hands” (1 Timothy 2:8), take communion (“do this in remembrance of me” Luke 22:19), “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20), “give thanks” (Psalm 106:1), “pray” (Psalm 5:2) and “preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). Preaching allows one to be reminded of the great things that God has done, how He has delivered His people, the salvation that He has provided, and to call for a deeper trust in Him. It could be said that the response of the heart to the movement of the Holy Spirit through preaching, especially to surrender one’s life to Christ, is an act of worship. It is that moment when someone realizes that their very life is dependant upon God, and they respond to Him in loving submission.
“Worship” is not about what one wants or what one desires. Far too often, one hears of a church that battles over worship style. One person may suggest switching to more contemporary music, but the rest of the congregants do not like that style of music, they have never done it that way before. Is this worship? Is worship centered in only one style of music? What type of God is it that can only find worth thru southern gospel music? It is at this point that comes the greatest application of the maxim, “It’s not about me, it’s not about now.” When the Church quibbles about music, and “worship styles”, then they are slipping from a realm of worship into idolatry, because they are no longer interested in the focus of worship, God, but in their own personal likes and dislikes. A new mother does not change dirty diapers because she likes it, but because she loves her child. It is love and adoration for God that allows one to sing songs that one does not necessarily like. Or, to put it another way, suppose that the lost around the church would be more likely to come if the music was not southern gospel music. The person in the choir may not like contemporary music, but they are willing to make that sacrifice that someone else might be saved. Would that not be a “sacrifice of praise”? It is okay that they sing songs that they do not personally like as long as the songs are fitting for the King (correct theology is more important than tempo or music style itself).
Just the same, it should be suggested that our prayers follow the same pattern. While it is not wrong to pray for one’s own felt needs, or to ask God to bless oneself like Jabez, one’s prayers should reflect one’s love and adoration of God. The Church should be concerned with the propagation of the gospel, about the needs of others, and the glory of God. If it glorifies God to see sinners turn to Him for salvation, then one should be praying for others to be saved. If one asks God to bless them, then that blessing should not be an end to itself, but a means by which God’s kingdom can be furthered upon earth. It is not meant to suggest that this is easy. And it is not to suggest that when one is in a storm and cannot see beyond the storm to think of others that God does not hear their prayers. However, it is suggested that a better way to worship God through one’s prayers is not to pray an organ recital (kidney, heart, and lung problems), but to pray for kingdom growth (revival, discipleship and salvation). “It’s not about me, it’s not about now”.
There are many forms of worship, and many styles of “worship” but true worship is in “spirit and in truth” John 4:22-24. Worship involves everything that one does. The mindful worshipper examines everything that they do to glorify God. They remember that worship is not about themselves, or what they like and dislike, it is about Almighty God. Worship is also not about Sunday morning, but it is an ongoing and eternal reflection of the kingdom. “It is not about me and it is not about now”. This is the heart of worship that the church needs to understand, and that those that are ministers of the church must help them understand.