Praise and Worship - White Trees in Summer SkyPraise and Worship are essential to develop an intimate relationship with God.  This isn’t just feel-good singing for an entertaining service.  There is a Biblical model of sacrificing to God, which we should use daily in our walk with God.  Ephesians 5:18-20 (“be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”).  To be clear: I don’t believe in a rigid formula.  But I do believe in searching for what pleases God and then applying Biblical principles to enhance our service.

Praise & Worship are Not the Same

In summary, Praise is a celebration of God, and Worship is an intimate expression of reverence.  We can use Praise to stir up our spirit and offer sacrifice to God.  Then, we can be still and worship His holy presence.

According to the Bible, Praise can be loud and exciting, with all sorts of singing, instruments, percussion and dancing.  Praise can stir up our spirit and have energy.

•  Psalm 150.  Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

•  Psalm 95:1-2.  Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.

Worship is different.  Worship focuses on God’s holiness.  It’s a time to take a reverent position and offer intimate adoration to the Lord – in holy fear (reverence) and awe.

•  Psalm 95:6.  Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.

•  Psalms 29:2. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.

•  1 Chronicles 16:29. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

•  Hebrews 12:28-29. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

•  Revelation 4:8-11. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

•  See also John 4:21-24 (“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth”); Romans 12:1 (“offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship”).

In Praise, people can dance, shout and bang loud cymbals.  Psalm 150.  However, in worship, we can be still and know that He is God.   Psalm 46:10Psalm 95 illustrates this difference.  Verses 1-2 say, “let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.”  In contrast, verse 6 says, “let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.”

Through Praise, we sacrifice to God and call on his presence.  Hebrews 13:15 (“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”)  Further, God inhabits the praises of his people.  Psalm 22:3; Matthew 18:20.  Afterwards, we move into Worship.  In this way, we stir up our spirit, and then commune more intimately in the presence of God.

The Indian preacher Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj analogizes Praise and Worship to a bird flying.  Praise is like using wings to rise up, and Worship is like gliding and soaring until we enter the most holy place.  Selvaraj tells a story about a church that interrupted God’s presence descending on them during worship by offering a clap offering – i.e., offering flesh and not being still.  He suggests lifting hands to bless God instead.

Worship God, Not Ourselves

Sometimes, church music is more about us and our desires than about God.  This misses the purpose of Praise and Worship to the Creator.  We are commanded to serve God only, and especially to only worship God.  Therefore, in worship, it is critical to use good judgment in song selection, so that we are only magnifying God.  Hebrews 12:28-29 (“worship God acceptably with reverence and awe”).

•  Deuteronomy 6:13.  Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.

•  2 Kings 17:38-39.  Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. Rather, worship the Lord your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.

•  Matthew 4:10.  Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

I think we can still offer up prayers in song, or even declare blessings, as long as we do so in the proper context.  For example, I like the song that goes “Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary.”  It’s a prayer for worship.  Romans 12:1 (“present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship”).  But it isn’t as direct as singing, “Lord, I lift your name on high.”  So I use each one in its place.

Prayer Starts with Praise

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, the very first part was to offer praise to God:  “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”  Matthew 6:9-13.  Praise and worship are protocols for approaching God.

•  Psalm 100.  Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

•  See also Ephesians 5:10.  and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

Spiritual music also sets an atmosphere, and can affect your spirit, preparing you for a work.  If you let some spiritual music play in the background of your home, it’ll feel happier and brighter.  Likewise, Elisha once used a harpist to stir his spirit before prophesying to kings.  2 Kings 3:15.  Some people prefer Christian instrumental music as a background, so as not to be distracted by the words.  There are certainly plenty to choose from.  As an example, here’s one you may enjoy: Maurice Sklar playing Christian music on the violin.

Morning, Noon and Night

Praise and Worship are a great way to start the day, dedicating yourself to the Lord and offering sacrifice to God before prayer.  There’s also precedent for the morning being important in the Bible.

•  Psalm 5:3. In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

•  Psalm 57:8. Awake, my soul!  Awake, harp and lyre!  I will awaken the dawn.

•  Mark 1:35.  Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

•  Job 1:1-22.  There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. … and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings …. Thus Job did continually.

Similarly, ending the day with Praise and Worship can set our mind on God before going to bed.  Focusing your mind on God before sleep can be important when seeking an answer from the Lord in dreams.  Daniel went further and sought the Lord three times a day.

•  Psalms 55:17. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud; and he shall hear my voice.

•  Psalm 92:1-2.  It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre.

•  Daniel 6:10.  When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.

Example Songs

I suggest everyone should pick their own songs and not follow a rigid formula.  Write down your own list, print it out, and use the songs until you know them by heart.  But for your edification, here are just a few songs I use for Praise and Worship:

In Him
In Him we live and move
and have our being.   (2x)
Make a joyful noise.
Sing unto the Lord.
Tell Him of your love.
Dance before Him.
Make a joyful noise.
Sing unto the Lord.
Tell Him of your love.
Hallelujah   (2x)
Lord I Lift Your Name on High

Lord, I lift Your name on high
Lord, I love to sing Your praises
I’m so glad You’re in my life
I’m so glad You came to save us

You came from heaven to earth
To show the way
From the earth to the cross
My debt to pay
From the cross to the grave
From the grave to the sky
Lord, I lift Your name on high. Lord, I lift Your name on high

I Worship You
I worship You, Almighty God,
There is none like You.
I worship You, oh Prince of Peace,
That is what I long to do.
I give you praise, for You are my righteousness.
I worship You, Almighty God;
There is none like You.
Jesus, Name Above All Names
Jesus, name above all names
Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord.
Emmanuel, God is with us.
Blessed Redeemer, Living word.

Jesus, name above all names
Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord.
Emmanuel, God is with us.
Blessed Redeemer, Living word.

Emmanuel, God is with us.
Blessed Redeemer, Living word

Majesty, Worship His Majesty
Majesty, worship His Majesty
Unto Jesus, be all glory, power and praise
Majesty, Kingdom authority
Flow from His throne, unto his own, His anthem raise.

So exalt, lift up on high the Name of Jesus
Magnify, come glorify, Christ Jesus the King

Majesty, worship His Majesty
Jesus who died, now glorified,
King of all Kings.

Use Scripture; Be Blessed in Return

A great way to praise and worship God is by declaring or singing the Psalms.

We can also worship God the way John saw angels worshipping in Heaven:

•  Revelation 7:11-12.  And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.

Under Kingdom principles of sowing and reaping, by declaring these blessings to God, we may even be blessed in return with these same attributes.  If by blessing others, we bless ourselves, how much more so when we bless God.

•  Galatians 6:7-9.  Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

•  Psalm 68:34-35Ascribe strength to God; His excellence is over Israel, And His strength is in the clouds.  O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places.  The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people.  Blessed be God!

•  Acts 20:35.  remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”


Next, Ministering to the Lord



July 2013