by Polly Gwinn
Lately I received a page of questions all concerning worship. What exactly is worship? Where do we worship? Are there required postures or positions for worship? When do we worship? How does God receive our worship? Thinking these were snap answers, I sat with pen in hand excited about writing some simple facts on a subject I "knew so well" only to find myself at loss for words! You that know me doubt this! However, it is not always an easy transference from your heart to inquiring minds. I know that my Redeemer lives and I am persuaded that He is able and for that I worship Him, yet to rejoice in this knowledge only to see confusion on another's face is heart breaking. If only we could bring them with us into the presence of God to join in our worship that they might share our joy.
In the Old Testament the people built worship altars usually at each stop (Genesis 12:8, 13:18, 35:3). One of my favorite stories is where the Lord, Himself built an altar of worship in Jacob's dream. This altar was a stairway, resting on the earth with its top reaching to heaven. AND THERE ABOVE IT STOOD GOD! When Jacob awoke he said, "Surely the Lord is in this place" (Genesis 28:10-16). Don't miss the next line of the scripture, "and I was not aware of it!" God calls us to worship anywhere we are even in our sleep since that is the only time He can get a Word in for some of us.
God called the nations into worship so that He might show them His ways (Micah 4:2). He will again call the nations into worship in the hour of judgment (Revelation 14:6-7). Here also the angel commanded John to "worship God" (Revelation 19:10)! Don't you think it would be wise to do a bit of worshipping in between now and judgment? We should not forsake the gathering together in worship (Hebrews 10:25), to thank God for the unshakable Kingdom we are receiving (Hebrews 12:28). I take everything Jesus said as a command. I have not read where He asks if we want to do this or that nor where He says, "do this if you feel like it!" For instance we read in Luke 4:8, "It is written: 'worship the Lord your God and serve Him only'". The comment we have all heard is: "Well I like to go to church and listen to the praise and worship, but I don't enter into it much". Is this good enough? Several instances show Jesus instructing the ones He healed to "go and show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded" (Matthews 8:4, Mark 1:44). Notice these healed persons were taking with them a reason to worship, not waiting to 'find' something to worship in church. Surely one day a week we can bring to mind some wee miracle that God has performed in our life and take it with us to our place of worship.
Romans chapter 12 will tell you what worship is and has a complete list of things to do. Now we go to Hebrews chapter 9 to learn the regulations for worship in the first covenant. Starting with Hebrews 9:11, the scripture explains how Jesus Christ came and died for us to take away our sins. Hebrews 10:10 says that by this sacrifice we were made holy once and for all. Praise and worship are expressions that acknowledge God as the ultimate source and giver of all good gifts. Worship is to figure out what pleases God and then do it (Ephesians 5:10); God wants you to love Him (Hosea 6:6); obey Him gladly (Psalms 100:2, 119:33, James 2:24, John 14:15). God loves for you to boast about Him by telling about His justice and righteousness (Jeremiah 9:24); read and meditate on His Word (Job 23:12, Psalm 119:97); be honest to Him (Job 42:7) and tell Him all your cares and troubles (Psalm 142:2-3). All of these things are worship.
The posture of worship would be the same as for prayer. "The whole assembly bowed in worship while the singers sang and the trumpeters played" (2 Chroicles 29:28); Daniel got down on his knees (Daniel 6:10); David spent the night face down on the floor (Ezra 10:1); Hezekiah faced the wall while lying on his bed (Isaiah 38:1-3); Peter got down on his knees (Acts 9:40-41) and Jesus fell to the ground in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthews 26:39). These are 'guidelines' and your worship posture should be as the Spirit leads you and you should never do anything that makes you uncomfortable.
The conditions of the heart are mentioned in numerous scriptures throughout the bible: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (Deuteronemy 6:5); set your heart on seeking the Lord (2 Chroicles 11:16); have a broken spirit and a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17); destroy what is devoted to destruction (Joshua 7:12); have a wise heart (Job 37:24); have an undivided heart (Psalm 86:11); be thankful and worship God with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28). There should not be divisions among you (1 Corinthians 11:17); do not cherish sin in your heart (Psalm 66:18).
God receives your worship with delight (Psalm 147:11); He will come near to you in worship (James 4:8); He hears from heaven those who call on Him (2 Chronicles 7:14-15); He upholds you, comes near you, fulfills your desires and saves you (Psalm 145:14-21). You were created for God's pleasure (Revealtion 4:11) and life and worship is all about letting God use you for His purpose (Romans 8:6). Jesus said; "you are my friends if you do what I command" (John 15:14). He also receives your worship when you do for others (Matthews 25:35-40).
God is worthy of our worship, or at least that is what the living creatures, the twenty-four elders and angels say in Revelation 7:11-12. They are all gathered at the throne and the scripture says that they ALL fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!"
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, God Almighty,
who was and who is and is to come!
Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh
Adonai, Elohim, tzeva’ot
Asher hayah vehoveh veyavo