There are very few operational definitions (and none in Webster-style) of worship in the Bible, but many examples of people who worshiped God "in spirit and in truth", a phrase we first find Jesus speaking, to explain the difference between location and propriety (things that make for formal worship) and God's Spirit living within a person, which changes the person from self-centered to God-centered and the person's lifestyle changing from selfish and hurtful to living and joyful.
James, the brother of the Lord, says (1:27) "Religion (worship, operationally) that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
Jesus said (John 4:23-24), describing the situation in His day (and ours) "...true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the father seeks. God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." He sidesteps the question of locality and propriety, the things that we get hung up on in worship, and goes right to what is inside a person, and how it comes out as honest or fake.
Jesus' comments on the Pharisee's vs. the widow's gifts, and the Pharisee's prayer vs. the tax man's prayer gives more insight into what truly beautiful worship can be. Luke 7:32 is an amusing comparison of false worship to music critics, distinguished in appearance, but really infantile.
The prophet Amos has a commentary on worship through music: "Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps, but let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!" The substance of worship is not in the style or the audible beauty, but in the God-developed character of the believer.
The apostle Paul, writing to friends in Turkey (Ephesians 5:18), turns a little pun in his definition. He advises us to stay away from liquor (spirits), but be filled with God's Spirit. "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart, always giving thanks to God the Father in everything, and in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Worshiping God in music is not just a vertical Me 'n' Him thing, but goes out horizontally, "speaking to one another." Worship is not a lonely thing like bowling, endlessly trying to get perfect. It's more like Frisbee with a crowd of friends and strangers (becoming friends) on the beach!
I haven't even touched on King David, whose worship was exuberant and unconventional; but I've put it quite a few Scriptures and thoughts, so I'll sign off here!
worship is a lifestyle...a character, an attitude, its like that without it we will never live, its like air we breathe, that the moment we lost it we can't live.. wow i was reminded again, thank you for your sharing be safe and GOD BLESS
Amen... we dont need to be hypocrite in the presence of the LORD, Worship is made for GOD, thank you for reminding me about.. thank you for your sharing... GOD bless you
Good question and two equally good comments from Greg and Joe.
Nothing is more pure and beautiful than when it is just you and the Lord. However, I can still be guilty of going off on one and get thoughts and pictures in my head about being in front of an imaginary congregation. This is something I need to be very conscious about and put myself on track, because WOW without the distractions, worship can be amazing and genuine. Trouble is, it can be sooooooo amazing that you want to share the experience and then become distracted again. Oh, the woes of human weaknesses!
Nothing is perfect in this world, distraction is everywhere, especially when worship happen, even in the church, sometimes its the instruments, or a baby crying, and the worst when someone is very conscious to what is happening, to the point the he or she is just staring to what is happening in the place, not worshiping at all, you remind me that i need to be ready to that situation, that in the midst of the worship celebration, there must be peace, full of attention to the living GOD, that we must worship him even in the midst of those situation, i just simply believe that GOD can move HIS hands any situation, thank you for your thoughts and GOD BLESS you
When looking at this question, the first thing that popped into my mind were the lyrics of Matt Redman 'The heart of worship'. I know you all know it off by heart, but just with the question in mind I will just paste it below as my answer to this great question;
When the music fades
all is stripped away
and I simply come.
Longing just to bring
something that's of worth
that will bless Your heart.
I'll bring You more than a song,
for a song in itself
is not what You have required.
You search much deeper within,
through the way things appear,
You're looking into my heart.
I'm coming back to the heart of worship
it's all about You, it's all about You, Jesus.
I'm sorry, Lord, for the thing I've made it
when it's all about You, it's all about You, Jesus.
King of endless worth,
no one could express
how much you deserve.
Though I'm weak and poor,
all I have is Yours,
every single breath!
Thank you Jo Le Page, its true.. that worship is beyond music.. i also love the song, it always remind me that OUR LORD JESUS is the heart of worship... thank you for your thoughts and sharing.. GOD BLESS YOU..
Wow. Perfect, Jo Le Page.
It's good to see "Heart of Worship" as just the poem. It refocused my mind and heart on its words (I've heard it sung in a very pretentious manner and had kind of soured me on it). Thanks for posting it this way!
Joe wrote "when no one else is watching".
Could be said "even when everyone is watching but you don't notice or care, you're still going after God"
I always try to push the 'worship as a 24/7 activity' as far as I can. It leads me to two useful questions:
Every minute of the day: 'Is this really worship; what I'm doing now?'
On Sunday morning: 'The whole week was worship, so what is this particular time for?'
In my mind (and in order to make the '24/7 worship' life possible), worship is anything that I do as a response to God's grace. It really can, and most often does, include everything I do. I only exist because of God, so the only activities that are worthwhile are those offered to Him.