A year ago, I wrote about Why We Worship God based on my Christian perspective. In summary, we worship God because we are created to worship, because of who God is (His divine nature), and because of what God has done (His supernatural work).
In this article, I will now share about How We Worship God—again, based on my Christian view. First, let me emphasize that worshipping God is not a formula or methodology. It is not about the time (when to worship), location (where to worship), or ritual (how the worship is done). After all, God is omnipresent—we can worship Him anytime and anywhere with our devoted hearts.
Therefore, the knowledge of worshipping God must be revealed by God Himself. In other words, we must follow His terms, not our terms, because He is the One who receives our praise, worship, and adoration.
After all, how can a sinful, broken man worship a holy, perfect God?
Thankfully, God has shown us the way to worship Him. Jesus has revealed that “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24).
To worship God, our spirit must be connected to His Spirit. And this is only possible if God’s Spirit dwells [lives permanently] in us. In order for that to happen, we must acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord. As we believe this truth (that Jesus is Lord), the Holy Spirit lives in us. No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3).
It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to worship God in spirit and truth. In fact, we don’t even know how to pray [communicate with God], that’s why we need God’s Spirit to help us in our infirmities “for we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26).
Isn’t it amazing that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us? If this is not incomprehensible enough, we have another truth that our Lord Jesus actually also prays for us according to the Scripture: “And so Jesus is able, now and forever, to save from the punishment of sin all who come to God through Him because He lives forever to pray for them.” (Hebrews 7:25).
How can we still not be saved if both the Spirit and the Son of God pray for us! (It is quite common that people pray to the deity, but I wonder if you could find in any other religions a god who prays for his people.)
Imagine the triune God talk(s) to Each Other about you, so that you will remain faithful to Him… so that you will be fruitful in Him… so that you will live a life that pleases, honors, and glorifies Him.
Here is the truth: God cares for you, more than you could ever imagine. In Jesus Christ, you can be confident that God loves you. That’s why He saves you from sin and death, and even still prays for you!
There is a common misconception that worshipping God can only be done with music.
It is true that music plays a significant role in worship practices. However, music is not the only expression of worship. We worship God through a variety of works—e.g., writing, cooking, cleaning, doing sports, or even resting!
Nevertheless, the Bible reveals at least three vital aspects of worship:
- Offering our bodies to God: “Dear brothers and sisters, I [Paul] plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him.” (Romans 12:1)
- Caring for the needy and living with integrity: “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James 1:27)
- Living by faith: “It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
In order for our worship to be pleasing and honoring God, we must live in His holiness, with compassionate hearts, and by faith. These are not our good works [or human performances], but can only be accomplished through the work of God’s Spirit in/through us as we put our faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
Worship may be done privately or corporately, although I believe that each of us will ultimately give a personal account to God (Romans 14:12).
In the context of public worship through music, I would like to share five crucial aspects about worship that God has taught me over the last few years of ministering in this worship-leading area.
I believe that God-pleasing worship involves the following characteristics:
God-glorifying. Worship is about glorifying God. In Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit, we reflect God’s glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). With the talents, time, and resources He has given us, we live to bring glory to our Creator. Scripture reveals that “we are God’s handiwork [masterpiece], created anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10). Our utmost life purpose is to glorify God—not ourselves—as it is written, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Christ-centered. We can only come to God, who is holy and perfect, because of what Christ has done. It is Christ’s death on the cross that opens for us the access to God the Father. Jesus reveals who He is: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). Christ is our righteousness—we can stand in the presence of the Almighty God because of Christ’s righteousness alone, who has made us free from the bondage of sin and made us right with God: “There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5).
Spirit-driven. Jesus declares, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63). True worship must be led, inspired, or empowered by the Holy Spirit. As stated earlier above, we can only come to the truth that Jesus is Lord—and that we ultimately realize our need of a Savior because of our sinfulness and the coming judgment—by the Spirit’s convicting work (John 16:8). We can worship and pray to God by the help of His Spirit. Here’s the good news: as we live by faith [trust and obedience] in Christ, the Holy Spirit lives in us—not just occasionally, but permanently! (John 14:15-16). He will guide us into all truth (John 16:13), teach us all things, and remind us of Christ’s life-giving words (John 14:26). O how we really need God’s Spirit in our worship!
The above three are the “vertical” aspects of worship. Next, let us see the “horizontal” aspects of worship, which are also important, especially in the context of public worship (service).
People-engaging. We want to be people who attract others, especially the lost, to Jesus. Christ’s earthly ministry aims to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). If we want to be like Christ, this should be our mission too: reaching out the broken world with the Gospel. Our public worships are to engage all generations—young and old—and all cultural backgrounds. This means that, as Christ’s followers, we need to be relevant to the world. Being relevant does not mean compromising with the views or values of this world, but rather in humility understanding their needs and pains, and speaking with the “languages” they can relate to. One of the effective means to communicate with people is music. In fact, our praise and worship to God has power to inspire others to join us in glorifying Him (Colossians 3:16, Luke 18:35-43).
Life-transforming. This is the ultimate “horizontal” goal of worship. I believe there is nothing more beautiful than witnessing genuine transformations in the people’s lives through worship that glorifies Jesus. When believers gather and worship the Lord with all their hearts, something must happen! In Christ’s presence, there is freedom, divine healing, and deliverance from guilt, sickness, and addictions. As the word of Christ is proclaimed, either through songs or sermons, people may encounter His powerful presence for the first time and receive salvation, which brings joy to heaven (Luke 15:7, 10). Again, all these things are accomplished by the Holy Spirit whose primary ministry is to glorify Christ. As believers, we are honored to be used as His vessels of glory—to share His love [grace and mercy] to others—as God does what only He can do in every person’s heart.
May we realize the beauty and power of worship—in spirit and truth.
In the end, may we be found as the true worshipers whom the heavenly Father is seeking.
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
Vancouver, March 2023
Further suggested readings: