If we had to define worship and describe what it is to someone who is clueless about it, what would we say? If we say that worship is everything, then what is it? In the end, is worship a lifestyle?
Maybe, like me, you were or are not satisfied with this definition of worship, and you would like to have a clear and deep understanding of this area of your life.
Is it just a lifestyle, or is there more to it?
My journey with worship
Before my conversion, I used to be a professional musician, and when I became a believer I naturally had an interest in worship and expressions of art in the church. However, I did not have a clear picture of what worship really was. The only thing I knew was that I loved those times of intimacy, of music, and of free expression of my feelings toward God.
At that time, most people referred to worship as:
- A lifestyle: everything I do
- A moment on the Sunday service: from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
- Praise and worship: I didn’t understand how one was different from the other
- Slow songs: basically when you lift your hands up
After a year of getting on fire for God, I joined a Christian organization called YWAM (Youth With A Mission). In my Discipleship school, I received my first teachings on worship. I understood that worship involved all of my life, including the act of putting my life on the altar (the sacrifice aspect), etc.
But still, I couldn’t understand why some times I was in the presence of God, and other times I wasn’t.
I would try to emulate those moments where I experienced the presence of God, either by playing my instrument or doing an act of practical service, but nothing!!! God wouldn’t show up.
In the teaching I received during my discipleship school, I was taught that worship is a lifestyle and that everything you do is worship. I was so confused. If everything I did was worship, then why was it that some times I could so clearly experience God’s presence and other times not?
If it’s everything I do, what is it?! The confusion and the question, “is worship a lifestyle?” Were still there.
I continued my missionary journey and God led me to Montana (USA) where I attended the School of Worship through YWAM. Finally, the questions I had had for such a long time were answered.
First of all, in order to get an understanding of what worship is, we need to look at it in its context. And before talking about how you apply worship in your life we need to get the essence of it.
Let’s look at the definitions in the original language:
Shachah: give honor, prostrate oneself, pay/give homage/tribute to a royal person or God, express gratitude
Proskuneo: to kiss, a dog who licks his master’s hand, to flatter or fawn over, to crouch down, to prostrate oneself in homage/ tribute, in reverence, worship.
Here are some examples of where the word Shachah and Proskuneo are used:
(Gen. 24:48, Exo. 4:31, Jud. 7:15, 2 Chr. 7:3, Neh. 8:6, Job 1:20, Matt. 2:11, Matt. 14:33)
Looking at the context where the words are used in the Old and the New Testament, this is what we notice.
- Something special, a specific thing/event
- A response
- To humble oneself
- To submit oneself
- To communicate
- To give
- An action
So we can say that Worship is an act; a response to either a situation, gratitude, or some other event that triggered something in the people. Some times it was just by the fact that the presence of God manifested. Basically, God showed up.
Is worship a lifestyle or is there more to it?
Defining those particular moments of responding to God helped me to understand why I had confusion about the question: “is worship a lifestyle?” Simply by understanding that there were particular and precious times of worship made a big difference in my life.
This does not mean that all of our life is not involved in our worship. If we understand what worship is, then our acts of service and anything we do for the Lord can be worship.
The Pharisees worshiped and gave offerings to God, but Jesus called them hypocrites. Giving offerings and services to God does not mean these things will be accepted by Him. If we try to worship God in a religious/hypocritical way where the motivations of our heart are not aligned with God, He will not accept that act of worship.
When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, he described the worshippers that God is looking for. God is not looking for just any kind of worshipper or worship. He is looking for real worshippers who would worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. What this means is that we need to understand what we are doing — it has to be real, sincere, and of course, done in love.
Last, but not least, our worship must be done in the spirit. Our worship has to come from a connection between our spirit and the Spirit of the Almighty. Like the Psalmist says, “deep calls unto deep”. (Psalm 42:7)
A love relationship
As I just mentioned, worship accepted by God is not just a service done out of obligation, but it comes out of a relationship.
The Gospel of John emphasizes the divinity of Jesus, but especially, his heart for intimacy and for relationship. The term “to kiss” appears in the Greek word “proskuneo.” This kind of meaning is not present in the Hebrew “shachah.” This shows that God is bringing revelation about intimacy to the ones who are searching for Him.
In the book of John, God is calling us to intimacy. We see Jesus calling us His sheep and He is the good shepherd since we can hear and recognize His voice (John 10).
Jesus says that if we love Him we obey Him. He doesn’t call us servants but friends, because He made His will known to us (John 15).
God is not just calling us to serve Him, but he is calling us to partner with Him in a relationship based on love, trust, and intimacy.
If I were to make a comparison with life, I would say this: I am married to my wife. I’m with her nearly all the time because we live in the same space and we often work together. We may go do the grocery shopping together or go out to eat. However, to really love her means more than just doing work and activities with her.
I need to understand what she likes/appreciates most and what I can do in order for her to receive my love.
I can live with my wife, but to really know her, we need to have intimate times where we get to know each other in a special way. We need times where we open our hearts, share our needs, are physically intimate with each other, etc.
It is the same with God. We can serve Him, but still not know Him! We can do many things for Him, but the service we are doing has never been required! It’s just been done from obligation without love.
We need our worship and service to come out of a place of intimacy and revelation!
Living the life of the worshipper
In order to live something in a real and deep way, we need to comprehend it.
Our everyday lives should reflect our intimate times of worship. Our life has to be a true reflection of a true relationship with God.
Of course, understanding God in His fullness is impossible — not even eternity will be a sufficient amount of time for that. However, it’s necessary and vital to know Him otherwise what kind of service and offerings will we be giving Him.
Intimate times speak to our hearts about His nature and character. They build understanding, faith, and trust which we then apply in our lives.
So, is worship a lifestyle? I will leave the answer to you. I hope that this post has given you a better understanding of what worship is. May God bless you all.
Feel free to ask any questions or leave a comment below.
Subscribe to our newsletter to know more about worship, the arts, worship team training, and more …