What is worship?
The question might seem simple, but sometimes our answer isn’t comprehensive enough. Is it music alone or something more? I have to admit that on more than one occasion I’ve said something like “The pastoral prayer will be after worship,” or “I’ll preach after worship.” I’ve heard people say, “How was the worship?” and the answer usually had to do with nothing but the music.
Worship is “focusing on and responding to God” (Don Whitney’s definition). A similar way to put it would be “a faithful response to God’s gracious revelation.” The format of worship is the same throughout all of Scripture: God makes Himself known and we respond to Him (see Isaiah 6:1-8 for example)
It should be clear, then, that worship is more than music. Of course it involves music, but that’s not all it is. Responding to God – who He is and what He’s done – is to worship Him. Therefore, we worship God when we gather together as one body to pray, give of our finances, confess our sins, partake of Communion, hear God’s Word read and preached, pledge ourselves to follow Him, and yes, sing praises to His name.
Worship has both a narrow and broad aspect. Narrowly considered, worship is what the church does whenever it gathers together. Broadly considered, worship could apply to just about everything we do in life because it’s a response to God. We worship when we sing and when we forgive someone.Both of them are faithful responses to a gracious God whom we have focused on.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Psalm 95:6-7).