What Is Worship?

Southaven, Ms

By: Mike Upchurch

What is worship to you?  What is your worship like? Is worship defined as something you do on Sunday mornings amidst a Congregation of other people, all standing upright in obedience as they dutifully look at the Overheads on display?

Is it three songs; one peppy and up-tempo, followed by two slower songs?  Do you think that pleases the Father?  Is that what Jesus referred to in the gospel of John…..

“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”‭‭John‬ ‭4:23-24

‬The truth is, worship is not just an act we perform on Sunday morning. True worship that pleases the Father is not about singing congregational songs together, but rather it’s continual devotion and adoration that comes from the heart and that is a lifestyle.  Worship we speak of is walking in an attitude of worship throughout any day of the week, being in love with the Person who is the object of that worship; the Lord!  You might say “Pastor Mike you write a lot about worship.”  Guilty as charged! It’s the most important thing I do daily. And it’s the most important thing you can do as well! 

Irish Singer Van Morrison wrote and sang a song in 1989 that was a big hit for him in pop music. Most listeners at the time interpreted it as a beautiful love song, but Van the Man said later in an interview that “it is a prayer to God.”  He called it an Ignatian song.

This is the first verse repeated throughout the song…..

“Have I told You lately that I love You

Have I told You there’s no one else above You

You fill my heart with gladness

Take away all my sadness

Ease my troubles, that’s what You do.”

Now THAT is worship!   The song is still played at many weddings as a love song, and even Rod Stewart recorded it as a love song, but we believers know the truth! YouTube it to see Van’s video. 

Unfortunately for most of us, when it comes to worship, we have been taught to fear God rather than adore Him! We have been preached to that He is a holy God who will not tolerate our sin!  He will punish us if we get out of line!  We then have a hard time drawing near to a God who may strike us dead for what we did last night!  We read of a God of wrath in the Old Testament, and we are certain that His wrath will be poured out in judgement against our miserable lives as well!  Only Jesus is holding Him back from turning us into charcoal briquettes right there on the pew!

We are taught that the end result of our wretched and sinful lives is the hellfire and brimstone that deservedly awaits us, and we will only get into heaven by the skin of our teeth. And even if we aren’t preached that, we sometimes think it on our own!   No wonder we worship from afar, and sing (whether we can or not) so enthusiastically, hoping that He won’t strike us dead right where we stand!

Something else we may do during worship is to spend all our worship time confessing our sins of the past week. Or we thank Him for saving our wretched souls from what punishment we truly deserve, rather than truly bestowing our adoration on Him!Trust me, it should never be like that!

Worship should be about Him and should be intimate. It should be a tender act of love directed toward Him. After all, worship is not about us!  It’s not about our being saved!  IT IS ABOUT HIM!  Our songs of worship and our prayers during worship should be about the wonder of who He is, and not about us at all. True worship is focused on Him and His attributes! It’s about sensing the greatness of His power and authority; the depth of His abundant lovingkindness!  It’s about recognizing the mercy and grace He freely bestows on us all!

Our worship should be all about Him!  However we’ve made it about us as we sing loudly of how some glad morning we’ll fly way, and we’ve got a Mansion, and we sing of dancing on streets of gold, and how we’ll be reunited with our loved ones, and on and on!   We’ve STOLEN the worship service that should have been devoted to Him, being in awe of Him and His abundant love!

We have taken that portion of our Sunday morning service and used it to proclaim how great heaven will be for US, or how WE have been delivered from our wretched past!  Yes, it’s important to have a heart of gratitude for His saving us, but that is not worship, that is praise!

To worship in spirit as Jesus mentioned is to be totally focused on Him!  It’s being in love with Him and using worship to express that love!

Look at it this way: if you wrote a song about your spouse or significant other, and each verse talked about you and how much better your life is because of what they have done for you, is that really a song about them?  Does it speak of how you admire them as a person?  Isn’t that just a song about you?  Does that song mention their beauty or their attributes or their character?  Not really.  It’s just talking about you and your blessed life. The song that will win their heart is the one that focuses on them!

It’s no different for the Lord. Songs and choruses and prayers they are about Him are truly the style of worship we should be creating!  Even if your Worship Director continues to select songs that are about you and your wondrous eternal life awaiting you, just close your eyes and began to focus on the Lord, praying silently while showering Him with your adoration. 

You will experience far more of His presence; you will experience the intimacy that can only come from the Father loving on His child!  That intimacy comes when we pour out our love on Him and lose sight of our own petty problems!

If you’ll put forth the effort to truly worship Him, you will be surprised how refreshing your worship time can be, and how you won’t want it to ever end!  The best part?  It doesn’t have to end. It will be a new lifestyle you’ve developed that has you walking with Him all the day long as you worship the wonder of who He is!

And that’s the way I see it!

Pastor Mike