What is worship?

by | Jun 4, 2016 | Worship | 45 comments

Have you ever longed to go deeper in your spiritual walk but felt stuck? Have you been confused about verses like “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8)? The Bible teaches that God dwells in creation and that His Spirit is present in every believer, but for some reason this isn’t resonating with most Christians today. The Holy One desires for each of us to exchange a polite relationship with our Maker for something far more captivating. He longs for us to find comfort in an intimate relationship, where there is healing and restoration for all that has been lost.

We often think that being a Christ follower is all about serving God through Bible reading and doing good deeds. While these things are important, the Bible is not an end in itself. It is a resource to enlighten God’s children and lead them into an intimate relationship so they may taste the sweetness of the very God Himself in the core of who they are.

So how do we get to this place? I believe the answer is worship…because worship is the bridge between heaven and earth. Paul taught the believers in Ephesus, “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence” (Ephesians 3:12). As we go boldly into His throne room in worship, we begin to experience face-to- face intimacy with our Beloved.

Several years ago I was in the depths of excruciating emotional pain while working through painful things in my past when my mentor, Linda Dillow, challenged me to commit to worshiping God twenty minutes each day for one month. She explained that worship is different from prayers of petition, where we ask God to do something for us or for someone else. It is also different from prayers of thanksgiving, where we focus on what He has done in the past. In worship, we simply adore God by focusing on who He truly is. These words from A. P. Gibbs helped me understand this more clearly: “In prayer we are occupied with our needs, in thanksgiving we are occupied with our blessings, but in worship we are totally occupied with God Himself.” (Satisfy My Thirsty Soul, p. 37).

As I took this challenge I was surprised to find that worship is much more encompassing than what I had previously experienced. I used to think that worship was the first twenty minutes of a Sunday morning church service when songs are sung to the Lord. But it is far more than that. The Bible clearly reveals that praise and worship are the primary vehicles for entering into communion with God. This can be done corporately, as believers gather together to ascribe to God the glory He deserves, and it can also be a personal experience. Both are important, but sometimes we are confused about individual worship.

Many of the words for worship in the Old Testament pertain to body posture—kneeling, bowing, prostrating oneself, singing songs, offering sacrifices, lifting up hands, etc. The Hebrew definition for worship literally means “to bow down and prostrate oneself before a superior in homage.” We are all created individually by God and have our own unique worship preferences. Some people worship with uninhibited expression while others are uncomfortable with any type of external response.

God is pleased when we worship with extravagant, demonstrative, passionate praise, but sincere worship is more than body language. Jesus taught that worship is the language of the heart. In the discussion between Jesus and the woman at the well, our Lord described what true worship looks like: “But the time is coming and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth”(John 4:23-24).

God is the sovereign King who created the whole universe. He doesn’t need anything from us, yet these verses reveal that He seeks men and women who will worship Him with unwavering devotion. To worship in spirit and truth means that we must remove any mask in order to be real and completely honest before God. We hide sinful behavior and shameful thoughts because we think it will keep us safe, but in fact, it is the death of intimacy. When we lay our shame before our Beloved and bask in His forgiveness, a stronghold is broken and we can live with great joy (Romans 4:7-8).

Surrendering our hearts in worship is no easy thing. When I first took this challenge, I mostly wrestled with God for control. I asked honest questions like, Where were You when bad things happened to me? Why didn’t You protect me? If I couldn’t trust You then, why should I trust You now? I was trying my hardest to press into the Lord, but I couldn’t get past the hard questions.

God is big enough to deal with our hard questions. Only when we bring all of our negative emotions out of the darkness and into the light can we see the truth. That is why we need to be sincere about our feelings and deal with them in a healthy way. When we find God’s presence in worship, we are able to hear with our spiritual ears and find the answers to our hard questions. And even if we don’t find the answers, the questions no longer haunt us when we are safe in His warm embrace.

I have come to realize that worship is telling God who He is, not because He needs to know, but because we need to remind ourselves of His true character. When I began the worship challenge I argued with God at first, but I would always end up praising Him for any attribute I could think of. In time, God gently revealed His true heart for me and I began to nestle instead of wrestle.

When I began the worship challenge, praying only words of praise and blessing to the Lord without giving any requests seemed impossible. I ran out of things to say after five minutes and wondered what in the world I would do with the rest of my time. Amazingly, as I continued to press into the Holy One, those twenty minutes became thirty and sometimes even extended to an hour. Before long I could hardly pull myself away from this glorious place where I found peace and rest.

As we pursue the heart of God in worship we move from a nominal Christian life to a radiant life filled with the glory of God. We will be overcome with passionate love as we begin to taste, hear and inwardly feel the manifested presence of the Holy One in our lives. Like A.W. Tozer we will recognize that,

“A spiritual kingdom lies all about us, enclosing us, embracing us, altogether within reach of our inner selves, waiting for us to recognize it. God Himself is here waiting our response to His Presence. This eternal world will come alive to us the moment we begin to reckon upon its reality.” (The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer p. 31).

Would you please join me June 27th?

Join me on June 27th for a seven day worship challenge to kick off the release of my book, Return to Joy? I promise that your heart will be refreshed if you worship for 20 minutes each day for a week.  I am praying that worship will become a life-long habit as you recognize that everything changes when God comes near.

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks” (John 4:23).

45 Comments

  1. Karen Wistrand

    I would love to!! Thank you for the opportunity!

    Reply
  2. Anna Mae

    I want to join! Is it online?

    Reply
    • Bev DeSalvo

      Sweet Anna Mae, I’m so happy that you will be joining us. I’ll be posting things each day but we will be worshiping separately. It’s so exciting to know that we will be pursing our Beloved together even though we are all over the world.

      Reply
    • Lucinda Berry

      I want to do this!

      Reply
    • Sharon Bankhead

      I will join you! I look forward to drawing near to Him in worship and knowing Him more. Thank you for spurring us on to a relationship with Him.

      Reply
    • Linda Miller

      I will. Love the book “The Pursuit of God”.

      Reply
    • Ruth Ready

      YES! Love worshiping with you!

      Reply
    • Susan Hopper

      I accept the challenge. 20 minutes a day for a week, starting June 27.

      Reply
    • Kelly Borunda

      When I came to Las Cruces to care for my parents, I was so close to the Lord. My dad had Alzheimers and got out of the house and was hit and killed by a car, my Mom also died last year. I was so angry at God, Yet I would ask Him why my Dad was allowed to suffer so since He was the only one Dad never forgot, then Mom died and shouldn’t have. Now I must go to the throne of Grace to heal. Thank you for this, the story is much longer but want to say thank you.

      Reply
      • Bev DeSalvo

        Thank you Kelly. You have had a very broken road to walk and I’m so sorry for your losses. I am praying that the Holy One will help you return to joy.

        Reply
    • CC Coffino

      I’m in, Bev.

      Reply
    • Kathy Wilson

      I want to join you in this challenge. Looking forward to it!

      Reply
    • Linda Strom

      Love your heart Bev. You are an example of His healing grace.

      Reply
  3. Marcie Anderson

    Bev, I learned a lot by being in your class as the book was being birth in you. Thank you for sharing with us your journey. It set me on my own journey to the Father heart of God into a deeper intimacy as well. Such a comfortable & safe place to be in the presence of God. There is healing in the shadow of His wings! Many blessings being sent your way today! Luv u, Marcie

    Reply
    • Bev DeSalvo

      Thanks so much for your encouraging words, dear Marcie. I’m praying that you will join us in this worship challenge.

      Reply
  4. Karol Carlisle

    Beautifully said, Bev! I am delighted to join in this challenge and long for a deeper relationship with Him. Thank you for pouring your heart and soul into this book. I can’t wait to get started!
    Karol

    Reply
    • Bev DeSalvo

      I’m thrilled to know that you will be joining me in this worship challenge. I’m praying that God will use it to draw you ever closer to His heart.

      Reply
  5. Debbie Schellhase

    I’m taking the challenge, Bev. Thanks for the beautiful article. A question that I used to ask myself was, “have you worshiped God today?” Somewhere along the way I have forgotten to ask myself that question. Thanks for getting this critical practice back into my life.

    I look forward to your book as well.

    Reply
    • Bev DeSalvo

      Dear Debbie…how we miss you guys. I’m so grateful that you are taking this challenge with me. It’s such an exciting time as I feel God stirring hearts in a new way.

      Reply
  6. Liz Everist

    Hi Bev,
    It would be my honor to join you beginning June 27th for the Worship Challenge. I commit to entering in to the holy of holies and worshiping our Father God for 20 minutes each day.

    I have finished reading Chapter One of Return to Joy and am working on the lesson at the end of the chapter. Already such a healing balm for me.

    Reply
    • Bev DeSalvo

      My heart is rejoicing as I read your comment about healing. God asked me to be a voice for His wounded children…so that’s what Return to Joy is. Thanks so much for your encouragement and for agreeing to take the worship challenge.

      Reply
  7. Dot Nine

    Indeed I will join you in the worship challenge. There is an anointing on this challenge, that I sensed this morning, worship is literally the key that is unlocking the doors of my heartbreak and pain, walls are crumbling, burdens are being lifted. This thing is of God, not just another program or 5 “step how to”. I’m all in, Bev. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • Bev DeSalvo

      Oh my goodness, Dot. You are getting it! How sweet of the Holy One to reveal His heart for worship to you. Let’s worship Him together and find joy on this broken road.

      Reply
  8. Jane Nash

    I accept the challenge! Thankful for you and your desire for each of us to draw nearer to our Father through worship.
    I have the feeling my journey will be tough at first.. Thankful for your push!!

    Reply
    • Bev DeSalvo

      Oh Jane!! I’m so thankful that you’ll be joining me in this worship challenge. I can’t wait to see what will happen to our hearts as we seek Him together.

      Reply
  9. Marylin Dickerson

    This is an area I need more guidance and help with…I’ll accept ur challenge.

    Reply
    • Bev DeSalvo

      How exciting, Marylin!! Thanks for choosing to worship with me. I’m very excited to watch as God shows up.

      Reply
  10. Lynn Ringstaff Neal

    Thank you for offering the challenge, Bev. A wonderful opportunity to refocus and refresh!

    Reply
    • Bev DeSalvo

      Thanks dear Lynn. I’m very excited to watch God move in our hearts as we seek His face together!!

      Reply
  11. Mandi Newby

    Bev, you so spoke to me. Your words are what I have been seeking, but have been lost on where to begin. I leave town on the 27th & won’t be back till that weekend, but I’d love to meet w/you if possible that next week. I know your time is valuable. I promise it will make it shorts & sweet. Please feel free to contact me by email or phone 254-760-7424.

    Reply
    • Bev DeSalvo

      Thanks so much, Sweet Mandi. I’m so glad you are going to join the worship challenge. I’d love to meet with you when you get home. Text me at 254 721 8825.

      Reply
  12. Shanna Carruth

    I will join you sweet friend

    Reply
    • Bev DeSalvo

      Thanks so much, sweet friend. I miss you…but am thankful that we can stay in touch in spite of the distance.

      Reply
  13. Ruthie

    Wisdom words from your heart and experience! Love you

    Reply
    • Bev DeSalvo

      Thanks so much, Sweet Ruthie. You have been by my side throughout this journey. Now we will worship and watch our Beloved moving in a mighty way.

      Reply
  14. Jessica Rhodes

    Wonderful post Bev. You have shared my very thoughts, written so well. I will happily worship along side you.

    Reply
    • Bev DeSalvo

      Thanks so much, Jessica!! I’m super excited to watch the Holy One come in power and might!!

      Reply
  15. Christi Lucksinger

    I’m in!

    Reply
    • Bev DeSalvo

      Thanks Sweet Christi!! I’m very grateful and can’t wait to see what God is going to do in our lives!!

      Reply
  16. Jackie Thompson

    Thank you for this invitation and definition. I’m in.

    Reply
    • Bev DeSalvo

      Awesome. I’m so thankful!! God is going to surprise us!!

      Reply
  17. Tina Eaton

    I will gladly join you!! Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  18. Robyn Knieriem

    Bev, I just heard about this through a friend and so I am a few days late but I am starting this morning! I am excited to worship our Father with all my heart, in Spirit and in truth!

    Reply
    • Bev DeSalvo

      I’m thrilled to have you joining us, Sweet Robyn.

      Reply

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