What are the elements of worship that should be present whenever and however you worship God? How can you practice worship as a lifestyle?
Worship is bringing pleasure to God and connecting with him relationally. Since we are to worship God at all times, worship can’t just be singing or showing up at a church service. Those are acts of worship. It’s important to understand the elements of worship that should be present in all acts of worship.
Read more to learn about the four elements of worship.
The Four Elements of Worship
The second week of your journey brings you to your first purpose—worship, or bringing pleasure to God. Like most people, you probably think that worship is going to church, praying, singing, and so on. While these are acts of worship, that’s not all that worship is. Worship is a lifestyle that centers on making God happy. It shouldn’t happen only when you’re in church or praying—the Bible instructs us to worship God continually.
Before discussing how to practice worship as a lifestyle, it’s important to understand what separates true worship from false worship. When it’s true, there are certain elements of worship that should be present whenever and however you worship God.
Worship doesn’t depend on who you’re with, what time it is, or where you are—it depends on your engagement with the words you’re saying and your intention to bring pleasure to God. If you’re just going through worship rituals because you feel you “should” or because it’s “tradition,” your worship won’t please God. There are four elements of worship.
Be sure you’re not worshipping an image of God that you came up with in your mind. In that case, you’re worshipping your own imagination or opinion. Instead, worship whom you know God to be by the truths outlined in Scripture.
- For example, “I think of God as someone who’d be understanding about some sins,” is false worship. On the other hand, “I worship God, who is just,” is true worship.
The second element of worship is authenticity. You must mean what you say and do—worship that’s not genuine isn’t worship, just words. The best way to worship with genuine emotion is to find a method of worship that shows your love for God in a way that feels good to you and reflects the personality he gave you.
- For example, the Bible names confession, song, dance, kneeling, playing instruments, raised hands, and shouting among many ways to express praise.
It’s okay if your method of worship isn’t traditional or even mentioned in the Bible—God doesn’t care about tradition. Often, traditional worship doesn’t make people feel good, but it’s what they think they should be doing. This results in emotionless, insincere worship. God wants to see passion and authenticity behind your worship, and it doesn’t matter how you make that happen.
(Shortform note: Read our summary of The Power of Positive Thinking to explore different forms of prayer and find the type that best suits you.)
Be sure you are engaging your mind in a meaningful way while you worship. Automatic repetition of verses and phrases will eventually void the words of their meaning, but you can avoid this by looking for new and interesting ways to praise God. There are a few ways you might accomplish this:
- Try reading different translations of the Bible, or make a list of synonyms for words that you feel you might be overusing.
- Be specific with your praises—tell God very specifically what you’re thanking him for, instead of generalizing. For example, instead of saying “I praise you for your gifts,” you might say, “I thank you for the beautiful sunshine that woke me up this morning, for my husband’s love in making my coffee, and for the insights my call with Jim gave me.”
- Consider how an unbeliever would perceive your worship. Would they understand the meaning of your prayers and words like hallelujah or amen? Try rephrasing your prayers in such a way that anyone could understand them. This has the added benefit of training you to help unbelievers feel welcome.
The fourth element of worship is presence. You can be in only one place at once. This means deciding not to show up for worship opportunities, but saying, “I’m there in spirit!” doesn’t count.
God wants you to worship him using your body—that is, showing up physically for worship instead of using an easy cop-out to cater to your own interests or schedule. Your presence is a sacrifice of sorts because it forces you to give up two things:
- Self-centeredness: Instead of focusing on yourself and your wants, you focus on God and his wants.
- Energy: You commit to the effort of worshipping with your whole self, even if you don’t feel fully motivated to do so, or if it doesn’t fit conveniently into your schedule.
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- The meaning of life from a Christian perspective
- The five purposes that you were created by God to fulfill
- How to find the unique service you were made for