Sunday, 13 March 2011

::What is worship? ::

"The heart of God loves a persevering worshipper, who though overwhelmed by many troubles, is overwhelmed even more by the beauty of God"
Matt Redman

"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for You created all things, and by Your Will they were created and have their being".
Rev 4: 11 NIV

What is Worship?
Worship is an act of religious devotion, usually directed to one or more deities. The word is derived from the Old English worthscipe, meaning worthiness or worth-ship — to give, at its simplest, worth to something, for example, Christian worship.

An act of worship may be performed individually, in an informal or formal group, or by a designated leader. Religious worship happens in a wide variety of locations: in purpose-built places of worship, at home or in the open. Many religious traditions place an emphasis upon regular worship at frequent intervals, often daily or weekly. Expressions of worship vary but typically include one or more of the following:
Prayer, meditation, ritual, scripture, sacraments, sacrifice, sermons, chanting, music or devotional song, dance, religious holidays, festivals, pilgrimage, dining, fasting, temples or shrines, idols, or simply private individual acts of devotion.
Wikipedia definition of worship

What is worship? This was the opening question for our consideration at my first session of training as a Lay Preacher.
The group made the following suggestions in answer to the question:
  • Telling God we love him
  • Giving Glory to God
  • Thanking God for all he has created
  • Adoration
  • Praise
We spent the whole evening discussing this question... covering worship as a discipline, an experience with God and that it can be anything that gives glory to God.....we ran out of time.
I found that the more we discussed this, the harder it was to define and at the end of the session my little group couldn't come up with a definitive. As a whole group we all came up with similar ingredients in our recipe to define worship, but after all was said and done, I felt that worship is a very personal thing. It is an experience that we as individuals can only share with God.

I challenge you to think about this question as well and would love to hear your thoughts. I personally find it a very difficult question and the more I consider it and pray about it the harder it becomes to put into words.

When I got home from my course, I wanted to pursue this question further. Is not the understanding and unravelling of this question key to leading exciting worship which brings our congregations closer to God?

In pursuit of a better understanding I turned to the Internet. As a visual person I first put 'worship' into google image and the recurring theme was of images of hands raised in praise. I almost always feel compelled to lift my hands in praise during worship songs. I don't know why, it's an automatic response when I feel overwhelmed by my feelings for God. But do we have to raise our hands to worship? The answer is no, because once again worship is a very personal thing between the worshipper and God. Once again the answer is individual and personal. The act of worship is surely an internal experience. Sometimes one which is an automatic response to a feeling or emotion.

But worship can also be a discipline, an action in dark times in order to get closer to God, to understand, to ask for answers, to beg to be lifted. The psalms are an example of this and much of the psalmists' words are laments which are then followed by praise and worship. I remember as as young Christian my friend suggested that when life was hard and I couldn't see the light, the key to turning the situation around was to praise and worship God. It works.

A turning point in my walk was last Easter. I don't think things could have felt any worse. I was walking through the darkest of valleys. A friend encouraged me and said: 'whatever you do, do it for the glorification of God, pray that whatever happens, it is for the glorification of God'. That encouragement has changed my life. With God's help I did this and this led me to where I am now, making space in my life for God and working to further his kingdom.

I then typed the question 'What is worship' into google I found this website

I felt their explanation was much closer to my understanding andthey had been able to express in words what I was starting to formulate.

"We have clearly felt God's call to worship above all else and are still on a journey towards a deeper understanding of this.
We are made to worship. When the presence of God comes to us who await His appearing, our hearts respond with worship and adoration. As we worship, we move in a realm of faith that pleases God. Ministering pure worship reaches the heart of God. We need to come also to present ourselves as an offering, seeking only that He would be blessed. Worship is expressed in many ways, but is essentially an attitude of heart.

"Teach me Your Ways, O Lord, that I may live according to Your Truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honour You. With all my heart I will praise You, O Lord my God. I will give glory to Your Name forever....."
Psalm 86: 11 and 12, NLT

But it was this picture on their website which encapsulated my understanding and experience...

Worship interpreted and painted by Caroline Jordan

In conclusion, I would like to suggest that every thing we do in life can be done for the Glorification of God and can be an act of worship. I have just spent three years writing, preparing, directing and producing a school production. I have put my heart and soul into this project. I would argue that the whole project from start to finish has been an act of worship - a testimony to my walk with Jesus and as the final product looms next week, it will be to me for the glory of my God.

I have experienced amazing worship with other Christians, but I have also experienced amazing worship alone on a beach in Skye. Worship is a very complex and personal thing. I certainly find it hard to put into words. I also feel that as we grow in our Christian walk, our acts of worship change, deepen and develop. I know that I will return to this question again and again, because it is my calling to gather people to worship and to lead them to a deeper and more personal relationship with God. One thing I am certain of, as I return to this question, during my two years of training as a Lay Preacher, the answer will almost certainly always be a different one......

1 comment:

  1. such heartfelt and uplifting words, Helen
    I know that when I hear songs of worship and that includes old hymns, i can feel everything in me swell , even my outlook can change almost instantly. Being close to nature too, to see the humble glory of a bee to the majesty of a great whale in the ocean. Its everywhere when you become quiet and look.
    Best of luck with your ucoming production!


It is my prayer that my words may be of some comfort or may bless you in some way...I love to hear from you and your journeys...every blessing H