What is Praise and Worship?
In many of our churches throughout the world there are many different “Praise and Worship styles”. There are churches and gatherings of Christians or even individuals in their home who have a great reverence for God and they kneel but not lifting their hands. In other settings of praise and worship there is lifting of hands, but never very much kneeling. Others have dancing; waving of flags and in some cases not much knowledge of why they are doing it and no more that a church karaoke session.
There are those who feel that your praise and worship is a personal thing and that people express their praise and worship each in a different way and please don’t interfere in my way of doing it. Banning of various instruments for use in corporate worship and forbidden musical styles has been known to be done, swinging to the other extreme of permitting any type of so called music from whatever source at all. Then there are individuals who state that praise and worship has nothing to do with a church gathering but is your life style and I don’t need to gather with other Christians. There are some persons who may not say it but in their demeanor and thought demonstrate that ‘praise-and-worship’ is some sort of hyphenated word describing the warm-up at the start of a service. There are leaders who have rigid song lists and flashing disco lights and the Holy Spirit doesn’t get a look in or consideration.
Is there a balance in all this, or a right way or wrong way to do this? How does God feel about the praise and worship being expressed to Him? Is praise and worship just singing songs to God? What is “praise” and “worship” and are they different? My heart is to see a people who are lost in God in the acts and lifestyle of praise and worship and be led by the Holy Spirit making room for His direction.
I believe that praise and worship are to be based on the word of God and not some modernistic idea of wanting to be cool, although that could still be scriptural in some cases. It is important that a “Praise and Worship” leader (whatever your terminology is for the person who leads) must know the difference in praise and worship and not just be instrumentally or vocally good, but fundamentally have a heart and knowledge of how to praise and worship God and a sensitivity to be led by the Holy Spirit.
Is there a difference between “Praise” and “Worship”?
Praise and worship can bring a new dimension to the way we honour the Lord. We are commanded in the Bible to “Praise the Lord” and these too numerous to mention here. Angels and the heavenly hosts are commanded to praise the Lord (Psalm 89:5; 103:20; 148:2). All inhabitants of the earth are instructed to praise the Lord (Psalm 138:4; Romans 15:11). We can praise Him with singing (Isaiah 12:5; Psalm 9:11), with shouting (Psalm 33:1; 98:4), with the dance (Psalm 150:4), and with musical instruments (1 Chronicles 13:8; Psalm 108:2; 150:3-5).
Praise is when we recall and reflect of all God had done for us. It is closely linked with thanksgiving as we offer Him our appreciation for all His works that He has done for us. Praise does not require anything of us it is just acknowledging the acts of another. God has done amazing things for us and He is worthy of our praise (Psalm 18:3).
Praising God is giving Him the recognition He deserves. We can define what we mean by praising God by considering the end result. The end result of praising God is to exalt Him and His name.
There are various ways we can praise God often being in song. We can praise God in dance, prayer, proclamations, studying God’s Word, and the list goes on. Singing praises to God was common occurrence in biblical times. The main purpose of the Psalms is to praise God—shown by the many songs on praise.
No matter what methodology we use to praise God, we must be sure to raise up His name above all else. “For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods” (Psalm 96:4). Putting other people or things before God is easy to do, but with the Holy Spirit’s help, we cans praise God with all of our being.
Worship comes from a different position than our praise as it comes from within our spirit. Worship should only be given to God and none other. Worship involves the losing of oneself in the act of worshiping God (Luke 4:8). Praise can be part of worship but worship goes beyond praise. Praise is easy but worship requires a cost. It requires us to humbly surrender ourselves to God to give the reigns of our life over to Him and adore Him for who He is and not just what He has done. Worship is a lifestyle not an occasional activity that we do when we get an emotion in a meeting. Jesus said the Father is seeking those who will worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23).
Worship is not the slow song that we sing, although this often helps to focus where our heart is towards Him and can aid us in the act of worship. Worship is not the amount you give financially, or the amount you volunteer. These can be acts or expressions of our worship, but they do not identify what true worship really is. There are many definitions of the word worship. One in particular encapsulates the priority we should give to worship as a discipline: Worship is to honour with extravagant love and extreme submission (Webster’s Dictionary,1828).
Worship, is defined by the priority we place on who God is in our lives and where God is on our list of priorities. Worship is a matter of the heart expressed through a lifestyle of holiness. Therefore, if your lifestyle does not express the beauty of holiness through an extravagant or exaggerated love for God, and you do not live in extreme or excessive submission to God, then why not make worship a non-negotiable priority in your life.