What is Worship
I love reading the book of Psalms. This portion of the Bible runs the complete gamut of human emotion from the high peaks of praise and exhilaration to the lonely valleys of betrayal and despair. The writers of Psalms open up their hearts for us and pour out the raw feelings of life that are hidden there – both the good and the not-so-good. We have all been at these same places in our own journeys and that is why Psalms resonates so deeply with us. There is incredible truth in the book of Psalms and many treasures that can be taken and used in our personal lives.
Psalms chapter 95, verses 1 – 7 calls out to us and invites us to approach God and to get caught up in worship. These verses are written out at the end of this post. The kind of worship that this passage is talking about is exuberant and joyful. Words like singing, shouting joyfully, and thankfulness are used.
What is worship, exactly? When the word “worship” is used, most people automatically think of being in church and participating in a formal worship service. That is true, and is a big part of worship. The Bible tells us to make sure that we don’t neglect being in His house on a regular basis as part of our worship. There is nothing in the world like gathering together with a group of people who want to lift up God and worship Him and who want to hear truth from His Word. Thank God that we have the freedom in this country to openly gather in His name week after week.
But worship is more than being in church each week. Worshipping God can be manifested in many areas of life and in a variety of different settings. Worship is letting the Holy Spirit flow through your life and into the lives of others. It is assisting someone who you don’t even know, or better yet, you feel may not deserve it. It is surrendering pride and not getting angry when someone “steals” that parking spot from you or gets ahead of you in line. It is taking the time to stop and really listen to someone without trying to find an escape route from the conversation. God is worshipped when we do what He says by reaching out and making an investment in the lives of other people.
Another way to worship God is to appreciate the majesty of the natural world that He created. There is something special about being present in the wild beauty of the outdoors and to witness the intricate complexity of what God has made. Why does the natural world appeal to us so much? I asked myself this once while stopping to rest on a bike trail that I was on. I realized that the same God who spoke into existence what I saw around me also created me. I think that one of the reasons that we appreciate natural beauty so much is that there is a common Creator for both us and for what we see around us. It is easy to sense God in nature because His fingerprints are everywhere. His presence can be felt in the stillness. His power and creative ability is visible to anyone who will take the time to see it. Being alone in a natural setting can lead you closer to Him. God is worshipped when we appreciate what He has created for us to enjoy.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, worshipping God is a personal experience that takes place in the private world of our hearts and minds. Our inner life is the most authentic expression of who we really are and what is most important to us. Our true motives and intentions are hidden here. When we breathe in God’s truth through reading His Word, when we sit alone in His presence, talking to Him and listening for HIs voice, our inner being is nourished and our thinking is realigned. An outpouring of worship towards God flows from a soul that has been fed on His Word and has spent quiet time with no one but Him. God is worshipped when we say no to the busy chaos of our lives and take advantage of being still in His presence.
These are some of the avenues that are available to us to allow worship to course through our lives. This is not an exclusive list; there are other ways to worship God, but this is what came to my mind after reading this Psalm a few times. It is an honor for us to receive an invitation to relate to our Creator in such a personal way. Don’t let worship end as the band is playing its final notes on a Sunday morning while you are exiting the worship center. Let it flow into your whole life for the entire week ahead. Thanksgiving is a natural time to reevaluate what worship looks like in our lives since the holiday is already geared towards reflecting and thanking God for all that we have and all that He has done.
Psalm 95:1-7 New Living Translation (NLT)
Come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come to him with thanksgiving.
Let us sing psalms of praise to him.
For the Lord is a great God,
a great King above all gods.
He holds in his hands the depths of the earth,
and the mightiest mountains.
The sea belongs to him, for he made it.
His hands formed the dry land, too.
Come, let us worship and bow down.
Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,
for his is our God.
We are the people he watches over,
the flock under his care.
If only you would listen to his voice today!