What is Worship?

Worship is not the slow songs that we sing in church on Sunday mornings. In fact, worship really doesn’t have anything to do with music... though music can be worship. Seems contradictory doesn’t it. But, it’s not.

To really understand what worship is, you must first understand relationship (OK this might take a while).


The dictionary defines relationship as a connection, association, or involvement between things. In our case, the things I'm talking about are people (mankind) and God. Therefore, our relationship with God is our connection with him, our association with him, and our involvement with him.

Do we have a connection with God?

I believe that there are three basic kinds of relationships that two people can have: 1) Blood relationship, 2) Marriage relationship and, 3) Interpersonal relationship (or friendship). If you dig into the Bible you will find out that we have a relationship with God in all three of these areas. Our blood relationship with God is through our heritage. In other words our bloodline comes from the very first person, Adam, who was created by God and in His image. Then, in the New Testament, it tells us that we have a subsequent bloodline to God through Jesus (a second Adam). Our marriage relationship with God is between Jesus (the groom) and his followers (the bride). Sounds weird, but that's what the Bible says. Thirdly, Jesus tells us that we are not considered servants but friends - meaning that if we are a disciple (or follower/student) of Jesus then we have a relationship with Jesus as his friend.

Levels of Relationship

Not every relationship is a close one. In fact, I think that all relationships fall into some sort of sliding scale of closeness. The following graphic shows how I envision this scale where Strangers are 2 people separated by time and space and oneness is where 2 people inhabit the same space at the same time.
Scale of Intimacy
Scale of Intimacy

My relationship (if you can call it that) with a person who lived 3000 years ago in central Asia would fall to the far left of this scale. I don't know them and they don't know me. In fact, neither one of us are even sure of the others existence. The other extreme would be if another person and I could share the same body at the same time. OK - this sounds really odd, but Jesus prayed that we would be "one" just as he and the Father are one. This sounds pretty "close" to me.

Praise vs. Worship

Praise and Worship are NOT the same thing. In fact, they are very different. However, they both require a relationship.


The dictionary defines praise as being the act of expressing approval of admiration. I think it even goes a little deeper than that. I believe that praise is honoring a person, or a group of people, to someone else. I also think it can mean to personally give thanks to someone for what they have done. For the most part, this seems to agree with the dictionary. A simple example of this would be for me to tell you how great my wife is: My wife is an excellent mother to our children, she’s an outstanding Bible scholar, and a gifted musician. In this example I am honoring her with my comments to you; the listener. Another example of praise might be for me to thank my wife for something she has done; Thank you, sweetheart, for doing such an excellent job of raising our children, or Tonight’s dinner was superb. Thank you for doing such a fantastic job. The key ingredient to praise is giving honor for doing a task (past, present, or future). The other distinction of praise is that the person receiving the praise doesn’t have to be present to receive honor in this way. They can be, but it’s not necessary. Praise, because it is a proclamation of honor, tends to be a very public thing. Praise can have a lot of fanfare and excitement associated with it. An awards ceremony or a victory parade are good examples of this at its best. At these events there is usually a tremendous amount of visual and audible expression (throwing confetti, waving signs, honking horns, people doing back flips, loud music, shouting, applause, and sometimes even tears of happiness). Even when praise is expressed at a more personal level, it can still have this type of outward expression (shouting, or maybe even doing a little jig in the living room). Praise can be so much fun. One of the most unique things about praising God is that it actually contains power. The very act of proclaiming the praise of God to each other, the world, or into the supernatural world has the potential to do miraculous, supernatural things - and thats another subject all together. There is definitely a time and place for praise and for praising God.


Worship, when compared to praise requires that the one being worshipped is present with the one doing the worshipping. This is very different than praise. Worship, according to the Bible, is personal feelings and intimacy being expressed to someone else face to face. Typically the expression is telling them of your feelings for them, or who they are. An example of this might be for me to tell my wife, “I love you”, or “You are so wonderful, I think you are the most special person in the whole world.” This is almost the opposite of praise. Intimate feelings are not something that you would shout from a public address system which is attached to the top of your car. Instead, you would speak them privately and in an intimate setting like over a quiet dinner, or maybe in your special place that only the two of you know about. Worship isnt loud and public like praise, its personal and private. Sometimes the best worship is heard through a mere whisper spoken into the ear of the other. From this simple definition of worship, there is a mandatory connection between worship and intimacy. The "closer" you get to each other the more intimate the expressions of your heart.


Worship, like praise, is not limited to the medium of music alone. Nowhere in my definition of worship does the word music appear. I can express my feelings and thoughts with words and actions as well as through a variety of art forms such as music, painting, architecture, dance, photography, drama, etc.. Basically, I can worship with any form of expressing my feelings, as long as its personal and the two of us are together. One of the most amazing things about God, according to the Bible, is that He is always with us. The two of us are ALWAYS together. It says that he never leaves us or forsakes us. Therefore, if God is constantly with us, we have the opportunity to worship Him whenever and as often as we want. With all of this in mind, the ultimate expression of my feelings or love to God would be my life itself. Everything I say, everything I do, and everything I am can be an expression of my love and devotion to Him. When my life is totally centered around expressing my love for God (i.e. doing everything I know to bring Him pleasure) then all of my words and actions are in accordance with His desires because of our love relationship.