If you were to ask 10 people, “What is worship?” most of them would probably say something about singing in church.

This makes sense given that we tend to divide our church services into two parts: worship and sermon. In years past, people engaged in “worship wars”, debating what types of music were acceptable in the church.

But the reality is that worship is much more than just music.

If we want to honor God, we need to understand the nature of true worship.

In John 4:23, Jesus said,

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”

God is seeking true worshipers who will bring Him glory. In this article, we’re going to explore what the Bible has to say about worship.

The Definition of Worship

First, let’s work to define what true, Biblical worship is. The word “worship” comes from “worth ship”.

To worship something is to prize it above everything else. To honor it as the thing of highest importance and to act accordingly.

Anything can be worshiped. If a guy absolutely loves his car, invests thousands of dollars in it, and spends hours working on it, you could say that he worships his car. If a woman spends all her time at work to the exclusion of everything else, you could say that she worships her career.

Worship is when we give our deepest affections and highest praise to something. True worship of God is when we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. It’s when we prize God above everything else and put Him first in our hearts.

As it says in Deuteronomy 6:4-5,

“The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

Contrast this to what Jesus says in Matthew 15:8-9,

“These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”

This makes it clear that worship is, first and foremost, about the heart. The Pharisees did and said things that looked and sounded like worship, but they didn’t truly love God from the heart. Their actions and words didn’t please God because they weren’t motivated by love. This is why Jesus called them “whitewashed tombs”. They looked good on the outside but were dead on the inside.

If we want to worship in a way that pleases the Lord, we need to start with our hearts. If we don’t love God from the heart, then nothing else matters.

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All Of Life Is Worship

The Bible also makes it clear that worship goes beyond singing to encompass all of life. Yes, singing to God is certainly part of worship.

Psalm 30:4 says, “Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.”

Psalm 57:7 says,

“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise.”

But the reality is that all of life is worship. Everything we do is supposed to flow out of a heart that loves God above everything else. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says,

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Eating, drinking, working, resting, walking, and sleeping are all to be done to the glory of God. In other words, every activity should be done in such a manner that God is honored. Worship of God is to infuse every area of our lives.

We worship God when we give thanks to Him for a wonderful meal He has provided. We worship God when serve others instead of ourselves. We worship God when we obey the commands He has given us.

In John 14:21, Jesus said,

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

If we go to church on Sundays but don’t obey the commands of God, then we’re not worshiping God. Obedience to God is an outward sign of a heart that prizes God above everything else.

Pastor Adrian Rogers said:

"...to be pure in heart really means to have an undivided heart, a heart that is unmixed, like metal without alloy, or milk that's undiluted. It means singleness of mind, the issues of life brought down to one burning focus, concentrated in my devotion to Jesus Christ. It means loving Him, serving Him, desiring Him with a pure heart."

Our goal and desire should be to have an undivided heart that is devoted to Jesus Christ above everything else. When we have a pure, single-minded focus on Jesus, the result is a life of worship.

Again, to quote Pastor Adrian Rogers:

"Are you seeking for Christ with all your heart? James 1:8 says, "He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." The word for double‑minded literally means "two souls." Here's a person trying to face both ways at the same time. Trying to live with one foot in the church and one in the world. They’ve got just enough of the world in them that they can't be happy in church and just enough Christ in them they can't be happy in the world. They’ve become a spiritual schizophrenic, a two-soul person. We are to love the Lord with all our heart."

God can’t have second place in our lives. If we want to worship Him then we must put God first, above everything else. When we love something more than God, we devalue Him. We’re saying that a job, person, possession, or hobby is better than God. This is the opposite of Biblical worship. It’s idolatry.

How To Grow In Worship

So how do we grow in worship?

Love for God is the result of truly knowing God. When we see God in all His beauty and splendor and behold all that He has done for us, we can’t help but love Him. Through the Bible, God reveals Himself to us. He shows us how glorious and awesome He is. We see how much He loves us and all that He has given us in the gospel.

If we want to worship God, we need to spend time reading His word and responding to it in prayer. The more we read His word and pray, the more our hearts will be filled with love for God and the more motivated we’ll be to worship God.

If you struggle to consistently read the Bible, try to set aside a consistent portion of time every day for it. Maybe it’s in the morning, maybe it’s at lunch, or maybe it’s before bed. Whatever works best for you.

Speaking of his own life, Dr. Adrian Rogers said:

"When I wake up in the morning, I greet the Lord, but I don’t try to have my quiet time immediately. I try to get my motor running for a little bit. Now, my motor gets running faster and faster the longer I stay up, and I have to get the cobwebs out of my mind just a little bit. It doesn’t mean that I’m not hungry to meet the Lord. It is that I am hungry to meet the Lord, and I want to meet the Lord at the right time. I find a time that is the optimum time for me."

As you read, think of ways to apply what you’re reading to your life. To be a doer of the word. James 1:22 says,

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

Don’t just read the Bible. Put it into practice in your life. Pastor Adrian Rogers recommended the following six questions to help with applying the Bible to your life:

1. Is there a promise to claim?
2. Is there a lesson to learn?
3. Is there a blessing to enjoy?
4. Is there a command to obey?
5. Is there a sin to avoid?
6. Is there a new thought to carry with me?

True worship comes from the heart. The more time you spend with God in His word and prayer, the more your heart will be filled with worship for God. Throughout the day, your heart will be “tuned” to God, and you will honor God with both your words and deeds.

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