What is worship?
I just copied this from a comment I made on another blog...
I remember going to church when I was a lot younger and singing a bunch of songs that included things like, “I will worship you,” and things like that. It made me wonder what worship really was. I mean if singing those songs WAS worshipping God, then the lyrics should’ve said, “I am worshipping you.” So I remember in the back of my mind wondering when we were going to worship God, and what that would even mean.
Just the other day, I started thinking about the ways we worship, which usually include singing, praising, and praying. But we do all those things to ordinary people. We write songs about people, we congratulate people, and I communicate with people, sometimes even making requests (which is what “pray” literally means–to ask). So is worship just a more extreme version of all singing, praising, and praying to somebody? I mean obviously praise comes in degrees. We praise our children for getting good grades, or we praise our favourite apologist for giving a good talk. But the praise we offer God is a whole lot more lofty than the praise we give our fellow man. Is that really the difference? Is the distinction between worship and ordinary praise really just a matter of degree?
Some people say that anything we do for the glory of God is worship. Acts of kindness and charity can be considered a form of worship. Studying the Bible, or even studying philosophy can be considered a form of worship. I’m not sure how I feel about that because I can’t think of an Biblical examples of anything like that being referred to as worship.
There are several places in the Bible that say somebody “fell down and worshipped him.” When I was really little, I used to think worship was just bowing low with your hands in front of you, rising up, and bowing down again. But it can’t just be that. That’s just a physical motion. People even do it jokingly to each other (is that wrong?). Falling down can’t be equivalent to worship because (1) it’s possible to fall down and NOT worship, and (2) if they meant the same thing, the Bible would just say, “they fell down,” or “they worshipped.” It would be redundant to say “they fell down and worshipped.” But I suppose it could be that falling down was included in the worship. If so, what else was included? Since falling down, by itself, isn’t worship, but becomes worship when coupled with some other activity, what other activity is involved? Is it just a mental thing? Kind of like when everybody stands up when somebody enters the room? After all, standing up, by itself, is not an act of reverence, respect, or homage, but standing up as an intentional way of recognizing somebody’s authority, or respecting them IS an act of reverence, respect, or homage. It’s the intention that makes it so. Is it the same with “falling down and worshipping”? Is it worshipping just because of the intentional reason for falling down before God?