Worship seems to mean different things to different people. For some, it means attending a church service, the act of paying reverence to a god or deity or the simple act of singing.
These definitions, though commonly used today leave much unanswered regarding what worship is and the power it makes available to the true worshiper.
The Meaning of Worship
A man of God once defined Worship as our response to the revelation of the Holiness of God. In the book of Isaiah, we are given a glimpse into the worship setting of heaven:
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. – Isaiah 6:1-4
The Seraphims; the glory angels of Heaven cry holy, holy, holy continuously before the throne of God because they see God’s glory is continuously revealed to them. It is the revelation of God’s glory that causes them to worship. Worship therefore is the result of knowing God. The more we know him, the more we realize he is worthy of worship because of who he is. It is interesting to also note that when we worship, God reveals even more of His glory which causes us to worship and the cycle goes on and on. This is why the Seraphims continuously worship before the throne of God.
Worship and the Glory of God
All through scripture, we see that the process of Worship is closely tied to God’s holiness and glory.
O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth. – Psalm 96:9
What then is glory? In Isaiah 6, we see that the temple of God was filled with smoke, which is also used in the bible to represent God’s glory. Glory in general terms can be defined as the fullness of a thing. It is the full expression of a thing. The glory of God therefore is the fullness of God; his expression or manifestation.
Why we Worship
In Psalm 106, we see how worship and glory are linked.
“They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image. Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass.” – Psalm 106:19-20
When the children of Israel worshiped the molten image, they changed their glory. This is such an amazing scripture because it shows that glory; the essence of a thing can be transferred and that Worship is the tool through which it is transferred. Therefore, when we worship the Lord, we are changed to be more and more like Him. Hence, we are changed into what we worship.
This is why worship is so powerful; it has the power to produce change to the lives of those that use it; regardless of who or what they worship. This is both an amazing and scary truth because it applies to the worship of God or of idols!
Hence, one reason why worship is so powerful is because it has the ability to bring change by a gradual but steady process (2 Corinthians 3:18).
“Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” Acts 13:1-3
Another reason why we worship is because it brings down the presence of God. As seen in the scripture above, when this happens, many other things we need become readily available such as the voice of God, his healing power, deliverance and liberty, etc.
A third reason why we worship is because it helps to regulate our spiritual life. Worship has a way of putting the spirit, soul and body of man at peace and heightening our sensitivity to the voice of God, His presence and His will. Worship helps create an atmosphere conducive for the Holy Spirit to speak.
Also, when we worship the Lord, our motives and desires are sifted and our true intentions are revealed because they are placed before the backdrop of his holy presence. This is particularly important when we seek to hear the voice of God concerning very sensitive issues. When we are not sure if we are actually hearing the Lord or ourselves, we can clarify issues by staying in the presence of God in worship and prayer long enough for the Holy Spirit to make things much clearer.
More on the meaning of Worship
This brings us to back the question of the meaning of worship. One of the most common definitions of worship is to thank God for who he is. This in essence places emphasis on the personality of God and not on his acts.
Worship can also be defined as the act of willful surrender of the body, will and spirit to God, based on a revealed awareness of his person and glory. It is probably impossible to coin a single definition that completely explains worship in all its depths and details. We are sure however that it focuses our hearts on the person of God and that it brings us into a most intimate experience with the Lord. When done in the proper way, it is an act of surrender that goes beyond words or a mere song to the actual yielding of the spirit, soul and body unto the Lord.
With this understanding, let us go beyond the use of mere words in our times of prayer and begin to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. So much change, life and hope lies before those that worship the Lord with this understanding of the meaning and power of worship.
David Adeniji is the Founder and President of The Behold File, a teaching ministry founded in 2003. The Behold File provides a platform through which the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of men to see Jesus so they can be changed to be like him.