The Power of Praise and Worship – Part #2

How do we praise and worship?

What is worship? If we’re going to praise and worship the Lord, then we need to know what it is and how to do it. To answer that question, let’s turn to the Word of God.

1.         We Worship From the Heart: 

“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.” (John 4:23).

I love the context of this statement that Jesus made. Sometimes we think of worship as just something we do in the holy sanctuary Sunday mornings at church. Some people think that worship doesn’t relate to their 24-7 eating and drinking, working and playing lives. Jesus is talking here to a woman who had serious issues in her life. This woman had been divorced five times, and was currently living with a man she wasn’t married to. Jesus spoke to the very real and painful issues in her life. Worship is not just some mystical thing that we do at church, but it is something that makes a difference in the strain and the struggle of our day to day lives.

The first thing we learn about worship is that we must worship the Father in spirit. True worship must come from our hearts, our innermost beings. As we go through this list of how to worship God, it’s not just about lifting our hands or bowing before the Lord. True worship must come from the heart, because you can do all of the external things, but if it’s not coming from the heart, it won’t make a difference in your life.

2.         We Worship According to the Bible: 

“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.” (John 4:23).

The second thing Jesus taught about worship here is that we are to worship in truth. That means our worship must be based on the Word of God. There are many churches that have different styles of worship, but if we are going to worship God in truth, then we must follow the guidelines that He has laid out in His holy Word. We don’t get to pick and choose how we worship. If God says jump, we say, “How high?” on the way up.

3.         We Worship in Song:

“Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise in the assembly of saints.” (Psalm 149:1).

There are about a hundred times in the Bible where it talks about praising Him through song. This is one of the reasons why singing is always a part of our praise services at our church. “I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.” (Psalm 13:6). Throughout all of history, whenever the people of God have gathered together in corporate worship, it has included singing – from the children ofIsraelin the Old Testament, to the church in the New Testament. The Apostle John also tells us that when we get to Heaven, we will continue worshiping the Lord with singing: “They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.” (Revelation 15:3-4). What a day of rejoicing that will be!

4.         We Worship by Clapping our Hands:

“Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!” (Psalm 47:1a).

When you go to see a show at the theatre, or attend a dance or other dramatic presentation, you will often applaud the creative endeavors of the artists on the stage. If you will clap your hands for another human being, then why won’t you clap your hands for the God who saved you? There’s nothing wrong with clapping for people and recognizing them for their achievements, but if you’re going to clap for men, who are made in the image of God, then let’s clap our hands for the Creator of the Universe. Let’s clap our hands in celebration of all the good things the Lord has done!

5.         We Worship with Shouting:

Shout to God with the voice of triumph!” (Psalm 47:1b).

I know lots of men who will scream their lungs out at a sporting event like a football game, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you’re going to shout because your favorite athlete carried a pigskin across a painted line on the ground, why can’t you shout God’s praises? “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.” (Psalm 95:1). “Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!” (Psalm 100:1). When we’re so excited about what God is doing in our lives, why are we so afraid of what people think of us when we come to church? Why are we so bound by the fear of man? That same fear isn’t there when we’re in the stands cheering on our favorite sports team, because everyone in the stadium is shouting. But someone had to be the first one to be brave enough to cheer out loud for their team. Why don’t you be the first one in your church to get a little excited about your salvation? Zeal is infectious.

6.         We Worship by Bowing Down:

“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” (Psalm 95:6).

There’s something that takes place in our hearts where we recognize that He is God, and we get down on our knees and worship Him. We acknowledge who He is as the Sovereign Lord over all creation, and we are His humble servants. When we come into His presence, and begin to sense His awesome holiness, our immediate response is to want to fall down prostrate before Him in humble adoration. Why don’t we see more people bowing down before the Lord in worship in the church? I think the main reason is pride – we are so concerned about what other people will think of us. It’s time to stop being so concerned about what other people think, and remember that our worship is for an audience of One.

7.         We Worship by Lifting our Hands:

Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord.” (Psalm 134:2).

Why do we lift up our hands in worship? It is one way of blessing the Lord. King David said, “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.” (Psalm 63:3-4). Reformer John Calvin offers a great explanation for the reasons why believers lift their hands in worship: “The inward attitude certainly holds first place in prayer, but outward signs, kneeling (and) lifting up the hands, have a twofold use. The first is that we may employ all our members for the glory and worship of God; secondly, that we are, so to speak, jolted out of our laziness by this help. There is also a third use in solemn and public prayer, because in this way the sons of God profess their piety, and they inflame each other with reverence of God. But just as the lifting up of the hands is a symbol of confidence and longing, so in order to show our humility, we fall down on our knees.”[i]

8.         We Worship with Thanksgiving:     

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise.” (Psalm 100:4).

We need to take the time in worship to thank God for who He is, and for all of the wonderful things that He has done in our lives. This is a good reminder that worship isn’t just about externals; it is an attitude of the heart. It is good to give thanks to the Lord!

Even though you may be going through a difficult time in your life, there is always something to thank God for. He’s my God, He adopted me into His family, and I’m one of His children! He has blessed me with four amazing children, one wonderful wife, and a great church family to pastor. Psalm 107:1 says, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”

9.         We Worship Joyfully:

“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness.” (Psalm 100:2).

It’s alright to get a little happy and excited in church! Some people have the idea that a church worship service is supposed to be dull, monotonous and quiet. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although there are times to be still and silent before the Lord, there must always be times of loud and joyful celebration of the goodness of the Lord. We see an example of this in Second Chronicles 30:21: “So the children of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great gladness; and the Levites and the priests praised the Lord day by day, singing to the Lord, accompanied by loud instruments.” God never intended worship to be quiet or boring.

10.       We Worship with Musical Instruments:

“Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with clashing cymbals!” (Psalm 150:3-5).

In our church, we have a full worship team that includes guitars, bass guitars, keyboards, pianos, drums, percussion and violins. Worship in the Bible was often accompanied by musical instruments. Here are a couple of examples of this:

“Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments.” (1 Samuel 18:6).

“Then David spoke to the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers accompanied by instruments of music, stringed instruments, harps, and cymbals, by raising the voice with resounding joy.” (1 Chronicles 15:16).

11.       We Worship in the Dance:        

“Let them praise His name with the dance.” (Psalm 149:3).

“Praise Him with the dance!” (Psalm 150:4).

Dance is another way that we can praise the Lord. Some people might wonder what it means to praise the Lord in the dance. Is this referring to jazz, tap, hip-hop or ballet dance? Of course not. It’s not about a style of dance; it’s about loving the Lord with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength. It’s about blessing the Lord with all that is within us. It doesn’t matter what it looks like – it’s not a dance competition. Remember, when you dance before the Lord, you are doing it for an audience of One.

Some men in the church think it’s not manly to dance before the Lord. They know the Old Testament story that tells us that “Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.” (Exodus 15:20). But I want to challenge men with the example of King David, the mighty warrior who killed the giant Goliath. The Lord Himself said of David, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.” (Acts 13:22). David was a man after God’s own heart. Look at the example that this mighty champion gives for us:

Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet. Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.” (2 Samuel 6:14-16).

Notice that when David was dancing, leaping and twirling before the Lord with all of his might, he got mocked for it. His own wife made fun of him. So if you are radical and passionate in your worship of the Lord you may be persecuted for it.

To those who would mock or poke fun at a passionate worshiper of Jesus, let the story of David’s wife Michal serve as a reminder to you of the consequences of such actions. Verse 23 of this chapter tells us that, because of her mocking, she had no children to the day of her death.

When David was attacked, his response was, “It was before the Lord… And I will be even more undignified than this.” (verses 21-22). What was he saying? “It was for an audience of One – for the Lord – and I will be even more passionate in my expressions of worship for Him.” Praising the Lord in the dance says, “God, I’m so excited about what You have done in my life that I must express it with my whole being!”

You might be thinking of First Corinthians 14:40 which says, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Some will protest, “Pastor Chris, praising the Lord in the dance doesn’t sound very orderly. We don’t want to do disobey God and do things in a disorderly manner.” Well, wait a minute here. What does that word orderly mean? It is defined as doing something according to an established order or rule.[ii] So what does it mean to have an orderly worship service? It means we worship according to the rules established in the Bible – in spirit and truth, with singing and dancing, clapping and shouting, bowing down and lifting our hands, with musical instruments, and with thanksgiving. That’s an orderly worship service!

12.       We Worship Sacrificially:      

“Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God.” (Hebrews 13:15).

David said, “I will not offer an offering that has cost me nothing!” (1 Chronicles 21:24).

Some people come into a worship service and say, “I don’t feel like praising God today.” Praise and worship isn’t about a feeling, it’s about a choice of the will. It’s about being obedient to the call of God to worship Him. I tell my congregation all the time that there are two times to praise the Lord: when you feel like it, and when you don’t. Part of worship involves sacrifice. Perhaps the best definition of sacrifice is this one: Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.[iii] When we choose to worship God, even when we don’t feel like it, there is a reward and a blessing.

CS Lewis describes this reality so eloquently in The Weight of Glory:

“If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”[iv]

John Piper, commenting on Lewis’ passage, writes, “The enemy of worship is not that our desire for pleasure is too strong but too weak! We have settled for a home, a family, a few friends, a job, a television, a microwave oven, an occasional night out, a yearly vacation, and perhaps a new personal computer. We have accustomed ourselves to such meager, short-lived pleasures that our capacity for joy has shriveled. And so our worship has shriveled. Many can scarcely imagine what is meant by “a holiday at the sea” – worshiping the living God!”[v]

When we choose to draw near to God in worship, we enter into His courts with praise, and in His presence there is fullness of joy.

Concluded tomorrow…

Pastor Chris Jordan

[i] John Calvin, Commentary on Acts 20:36.

[ii] orderly. Unabridged. Random House, Inc. (accessed: April 11, 2010).

[iii] sacrifice. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. (accessed: April 11, 2010).

[iv] C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory. (Harperone, April 2001).

[v] John Piper, Desiring God. (Multnomah Books, 2003).


About Chris Jordan

Husband. Father. Author. Pastor. High School Bible Teacher. Follower of Jesus. And I enjoy a good cup of coffee!
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