You know, sometimes we get so used to religion the words we use lose ordinary meaning. Take “Praise and Worship”. It has come to mean the first musical section of a church service. It’s when we lift up holy hands, sing and gaze into heaven in doxologia.
In other words the term “praise and worship” has come to be defined by acts rather than essence. We even use pace of music as technical delineator of praise and worship. Upbeat fast and loud music is “praise”. When this descends in tempo to a drag, we call it “worship.” Yet praise ordinarily means adulation. It’s an expression of strong admiration. Synonyms are “laud”, “glorify”, “extol”…
Worship according to Merriam-Webster dictionary is “excessive admiration for someone.” And so in ordinary terms, when we gather to worship we have come to express our strong admiration for God. When we gather to worship God therefore the focus can never be us or performance of the choir. Rather the focus must be God – the Potentate and Possessor of Heaven and Earth. If truth be told some of the songs we sing for praise and worship will need review. We must not confuse the instrumentality of worship with the very act of worship.
Praise and worship is NOT about singing and dancing. Those are MEANS OF EXPRESSION, INSTRUMENTALITIES. The means employed in praising or worshipping God should not be confused with the very praise or worship. When our focus is the instrumentalities of worship, worship becomes a staged shallow exercise. When our focus is the instrumentalities of worship, worship becomes a robotic act – motions without conviction. When our focus is on the instrumentalities of worship we stand in danger of becoming the object of worship ourselves. In all our singing and dancing we must not forget to do the worship – to express our admiration to God. The Psalmist says: Praise Him WITH trumpet sound; praise Him WITH lute and harp! (Psalm 150:3).
The trumpet and lute and harp are instrumental aids of worship. They’re not an end in themselves. And that a song is not set to our favourite music should not deter us from praising or worshipping God! The truth is worship can be silent. The Bible says so: “The Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth hush and keep silence before Him.” (Hab. 2:20) Psalm 65:1-2 MSG: Silence is praise to you, Zion-dwelling God, And also obedience. You hear the prayer in it all. In other words there’s a place for the silent admiration of God. This can be so powerful God receives it as prayer.
There are three reasons we worship and praise God. The first is in acknowledgment and thanksgiving for what he has done for us. Let’s call this thanksgiving praise. The second is in anticipation of answered prayer. We’ll call this anticipatory praise. These two instances are directly linked to the supply of our needs, answers to our prayers. Thus we find them easy, even compelling. We are compelled by gratitude and anticipation to praise God.
There is a shortcoming though: when we feel God is not answering us, or slow to answer us we lose motivation to worship. And that is why we must understand the third basis of worshipping God. It’s the most elevated of the bases. In Revelation, the twenty and four elders cast their crowns before the throne of God in worship. It is not because of what God has done for them, or what they are expecting God to do for them. “The twenty-four elders fall prostrate before Him Who is sitting on the throne and they worship Him Who lives forever and ever; and they throw down their crowns before the throne, crying out, “Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive the glory and the honor and dominion, for You created all things, by Your will they were brought into being and were created.” Revelation 4:10-11 AMP.
That they lay their crowns before the throne tells us we are dealing with a political situation. It signifies POLITICAL submission. This is the submission of lesser authorities to higher authority: “Worthy are You, our LORD and God, to receive the glory and the honor and DOMINION”. This is POLITICAL WORSHIP. We see God being honoured and worshipped as a political figure.
Political worship is the highest form of worship. It is not worshipping God for what he has done or what we want. It is worshipping God for who he is – King! It is not a demand driven worship. It is worshipping God just because he is God! God is supreme! That’s political hierarchy.
David knows a thing or two about worshipping God. He calls him “Earth-Tamer, Ocean-Pourer, Mountain-Maker, Hill-Dresser, Muzzler of Sea Storm…” (Psalm 65:6-7). Then he goes further: “God! Let the cosmos praise your wonderful ways, the choir of holy angels sing anthems to your faithful ways! Search high and low, scan skies and land, you’ll find nothing and no one quite like God. The holy angels are in awe before him; he looms immense and august over everyone around him. God-of-the-Angel-Armies, who is like you, powerful and faithful from every angle? You put the arrogant ocean in its place and calm its waves when they turn unruly. You gave that old hag Egypt the back of your hand, you brushed off your enemies with a flick of your wrist. You own the cosmos – you made everything in it, everything from atom to archangel. You positioned the North and South Poles; the mountains Tabor and Hermon sing duets to you. With your well-muscled arm and your grip of steel – nobody trifles with you! The Right and Justice are the roots of your rule; Love and Truth are its fruits. Blessed are the people who know the passwords of praise, who shout on parade in the bright presence of God. Delighted, they dance all day long; they know who you are, what you do – they can’t keep it quiet! Your vibrant beauty has gotten inside us – you’ve been so good to us! We’re walking on air! All we are and have we owe to God, Holy God of Israel, our King!” (Psalm 89:5-18 MSG).
God is DESERVING of praise and worship – for the simple reason he is potentate. Everything else is extra. This fact must never escape us when we gather for worship. The most important aspect of a church service is the worship session. It is not the sermon. When we worship God lavishly, he dispenses his favour lavishly, and we’re blessed.
Don’t go late to church. You’ll miss the most important part of the service – worship.
I wish you a blessed week ahead.
© Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org