Praise and Worship: An Event or a Lifestyle?
Why is there a designated time in a church service set aside for worshiping the Lord through song? Why did the Apostle Paul write that our gatherings ought to include “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in [our] heart to the Lord”? [Ephesians 5:19, NKJV] Why did King David write countless Psalms that spoke of singing and using instruments such as the harp and the cymbals to offer praise to the Lord?
Throughout Scripture, it is evident that the Lord assigns high value to both praise and worship. Specifically, we find a heavy Scriptural emphasis on the expression of praise and worship though music and song. As early as Exodus 15, we see the Children of Israel singing praise unto the Lord, after the crossing of the Red Sea. Then, all the way into Revelation 14:3 we read of the glorified saints who stand singing a new song before His Throne. From beginning to end, the Word of God is full of evidence that God delights in worship and praise.
Both praise and worship have a uniquely essential role in the life of the believer. Before describing the purpose of each, it would be helpful to define what we mean when we use the terms “praise” and “worship.” Did you know that there is a difference between praise and worship? Many believers have a rather ambiguous understanding of these terms. For instance, during a song service, people often refer to the melodies with an upbeat tempo as “praise songs,” while slower, more melodic tunes are labeled “worship songs.” While this classification is not necessarily erroneous, worship and praise are distinguished by something far deeper than the tempo of a song.
Essentially, praise is an expression of thanksgiving, both for who the Lord is and what He has done.
Moreover, praise is an acknowledgment that He is infinitely greater than our finite frame, strength, or intellect.
Ultimately, praise is a decision to rejoice, regardless of the hardship or affliction that we may be facing in this mundane life.
Often, when we praise, we do so disregarding our feelings or emotions, laying them aside in order to concentrate on the greatness of our God. As such, praise serves to redefine our perspective, until our seemingly insurmountable problems begin to fade into insignificance in the light of the splendor and majesty of the Lord. Everything changes in your heart as you begin to exchange the spirit of heaviness for the garment of praise [see Isaiah 61:3].
Worship works in a similar fashion, but from a different angle.
Worship involves a total surrender that is birthed from a reverential awe of the Lord.
When we worship Him, we acknowledge that our life belongs fully to Him, because He purchased us with His Blood.
Worship removes all else from the throne in our heart, so that He is able to take His rightful place upon that throne.
Consequently, worship begins to happen as we decide to be still and know that He is God [see Psalm 46:10]. By offering your worship to the Lord, you are declaring: Jesus is the Lord of my life, and therefore, I am not. As you surrender to His Lordship in worship, you will find that everything in your life will begin to fall into place.
Having identified the distinction between praise and worship, let us now consider ways in which praise and worship are alike:
1. Most importantly, both must be done in spirit and in truth (See John 4:24).
2. Praise and worship will only be genuine and effective when the motive that drives them is a divine revelation of the infinite, unconditional love of the Lord.
3. Praise and worship must be proactive rather than reactive. If you wait until your flesh “feels” the desire to worship, it will never happen.
4. Your ability to praise and worship the Lord has very little to do with the circumstances that you are facing, but rather, it has everything to do with who God is and continues to be even in the midst of those circumstances.
Through praise and worship, you can find your way out of your place of bondage, and into your place of promise!
Recall that in Acts 16, Paul and Silas were released from bondage while they began to sing praise and worship to the Lord. But not only is praise and worship your way out; more importantly, it is your way in, as Psalm 100:4 declares “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise” [NKJV]. If you are looking for a way out of your mess, begin to praise and worship the Lord. If you’ve ever flown on a commercial airliner, you know that the flight safety instructions tell the passengers how to find the exit – white lights lead to red lights, which lead to the nearest exit. Perhaps you are in the middle of a severe problem, and you are struggling to find your exit out of it. In a figurative sense, as you praise and worship the Lord, your heart will begin to see those lights which lead to the exit from your problem.
But beyond escaping the place of bondage, worship and praise also take you in – into the secret place of His Presences, far beyond your circumstances, safe and hidden under the shadow of His Wings.
Worship and praise usher your heart into a place of peace and rest, where His Love is all that matters to you. David constantly entered into that safe place, though he was surrounded by his enemies, and he lived free of fear even when danger appeared imminent. He found that safe place through worshipping the Lord.
Likewise you, through worship, can come to a place where your heart is so filled with the Lord’s goodness that there is simply no room left in your heart for fears, cares, anxieties, regrets, or doubts.
All of these beautiful benefits of worship and praise will begin to manifest in your life when you choose to make praise and worship a lifestyle. It must be more than an event that you participate in each Sunday morning. Imagine what would happen in your life and walk with the Lord if praise and worship became your lifestyle. This life that we live is a journey with Jesus, but it is through a lifestyle of praise and worship that we will learn to turn our eyes upon Jesus until ‘the things of this world grow strangely dim.’ Jesus desires for you to enjoy walking this journey with Him, but it is a healthy lifestyle of praise and worship that prepares your heart for each step of the journey.
Take these principles to heart, and the next time that you are in church on a Sunday during the time of praise and worship, understand that what you are doing is far more than simply participating in a song service! You are engaging in praise and worship unto Almighty God, and thereby inviting the Lord to come into absolutely every part of your life, so that He can minister His Love and Grace to you in every part of who you are. But more importantly, you are responding to His invitation for you to come unto Him, so that He can set you free from the troubles of this fallen world and elevate you to see from His perspective, far above your mundane circumstances.
You can embark on this amazing journey today.
Are you ready? Let’s go for it!