What Exactly Is Worship?

Cindy Collier Writer

silhouette of man worshipping before a beautiful stained glass window, hymns to silence satan's lies Monday, September 14, 2020

Worship can be defined as “the reverence or adoration that one shows toward something or someone; holding a person or object in high esteem; or giving a person or an object a place of importance or honor.” There are hundreds of scriptures in the Bible that speak about worship and provide guidance as to both who and how to worship.

It is a Biblical mandate that we worship God and Him alone. It is an act that is designed not only to bring honor to Him who deserves honor, but also to bring a spirit of obedience and submission to the worshippers.

But why do we worship, what exactly is worship and how do we worship on a day-to-day basis? Because this topic is important to God and is the reason that we were created, the Scripture provides us a great deal of information on the subject.

Photo credit: Unsplash/Chris Malinao Burgett

silhouette of man worshipping before a beautiful stained glass window, hymns to silence satan's lies

What Is Worship?

The word worship comes from the Old English word “weorþscipe or “worth-ship which means “to give worth to. In a secular context, the word can mean “to hold something in high esteem.” In a Biblical context, the Hebrew word for worship is shachah, which means to depress, to fall down, or to lay prostrate before a deity. It is to hold something up with such reverence, honor, and esteem that your only desire is to bow down before it. God specifically mandates that the focus of this type of worship be toward Him and Him alone. 

In its earliest context, man’s worship to God involved an act of sacrifice – the slaughter of an animal and the shedding of blood in order to bring atonement for sin. It was the looking ahead to the time when Messiah would come and become the ultimate sacrifice, giving the ultimate form of worship in obedience to God and love for us through the giving of himself in his death.

But Paul reframes sacrifice as worship in Romans 12:1, “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.” We are no longer under bondage to the law, with the burden of bringing animal blood to atone for sins and as our form of worship. Jesus has already paid a death price and made a blood sacrifice for our sins. Our form of worship, post-resurrection, is to bring ourselves, our own lives, as a living sacrifice to God. This is holy and pleasing to Him.

In My Utmost for His Highest Oswald Chambers said, “Worship is giving God the best that He has given you.” We own nothing of worth to present to God in worship but ourselves. It is our ultimate sacrifice, giving God back the very life that He gave to us. It is our purpose and the reason we were created. 1 Peter 2:9 says that we are a “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” It is the reason that we exist, to bring adoration to Him who created us.

Photo credit: Unsplash/Mark Pan4ratte

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