What do you think of when you hear that word?
Personally, I’ve always thought of worship as being praise that involves music. Songs, instruments, melodies, harmonies…any way to incorporate music into our praise of God.
That’s always made sense to me. I could praise God any way I wanted – but when I sang praises to Him, or played Christian songs on the piano for His glory, then it moved from simply being praise to being worship. My church – like many – has a worship team that plays and sings praise songs at the beginning of our services, and its always cemented my belief that worship equals music.
However, in the back of my mind, I’ve often wondered what happens if someone can’t perform music for God. Many people’s gifts lie elsewhere. Sure, some people may not sound great but could at least still worship if they chose. But what about the people who physically can’t for some reason? Or what if they can, but singing or playing an instrument is stressful for them; something they dread?
It’s never felt right to me that something the Bible both commands and encourages us to do would only be possible or cherished by some of God’s children. Again, many of the things we’re called to do as Christians aren’t things we particularly enjoy, but still, that view has always seemed incomplete to me.
The past four weeks, I’ve been reading the book The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren1 (which I highly recommend), and one of the sections covers the topic of worship. I found Warren’s insights very eye-opening, and the reminder that we were created to worship God a very necessary one for me right now. As I was working through those chapters, I came across this line: “Anything you do that brings pleasure to God is an act of worship.”
It’s not often I need to stop and just breathe for a moment while reading, but this line was like a slap of cold water – in a good way. After digesting those words, I continued as Warren elaborated on the truth that worship is simply bringing God pleasure.
It’s a choice to do what would please God, rather than to indulge in what we want. It’s to love, trust, and seek to bring God joy so much that we’re willing to do whatever He asks of us, every moment of our lives. And it can be done in countless ways.
Yes, music is a huge part of worship! God is pleased when we sing praises to Him, play instruments for His glory, and use our musical abilities to bring others closer to Him. Instruments, lyrics, tunes, and songs are all beautiful expressions of worship.
And yet, worship doesn’t stop at music – and in fact, doesn’t even require it. We can worship God every moment of our lives without ever singing or playing a single note. If worship is as simple as something that brings pleasure to God, then the options, possibilities, and manifestations of that are endless!
Warren went on to say, “Every activity can be transformed into an act of worship when you do it for the praise, glory, and pleasure of God…This is the secret to a lifestyle of worship—doing everything as if you were doing it for Jesus.”
Maybe that seems obvious to you, but to me that was revolutionary. Suddenly I’ve begun to look at even the smallest occurrences in my life as chances to worship God.
If I bring my grieving neighbor a meal with compassion, that’s worship. If I take the time to show my little siblings love by reading a book or playing a game with them, that’s worship. If I send cards to nursing home residents to brighten their day, that’s worship.
Nothing is too small to turn into an act of worship.
If I’m doing it to glorify and please God, then even the most mundane daily chores can be acts of worship. Laundry, dishes, cooking, dusting, and even scrubbing toilets can be opportunities to make the Lord smile. Bible studies, devotionals, and prayer become more than something I must do to grow closer to Him, but something I get to do to bring joy to my Savior as well.
That awareness has brought a whole new perspective and focus into my days. At every moment, I’m trying to stop and ask myself if what I’m doing is an act of worship – or if it’s not, what can I do to turn it into one?
In moments of temptation, where I must choose between obeying God or sinning, it’s been a good reminder to think that choosing to obey God is not only a choice to do His Will, but a choice to worship Him. To glorify Him, please Him, and show Him that He means more to me than anything else.
Worship can be music, praises, Bible study, and time spent in church. It can be babysitting, volunteering, working, and serving. It can be baking, cleaning, scrubbing, and mending.
And it’s always obedience, respect, trust, love, and faith.
Thinking about worship this way has been a fantastic reminder for me to be intentional with my life. Every day, every hour, and every minute. Every chance, every choice is an opportunity to either please God and bring a smile to His face – or grieve Him and cause Him pain.
The last thing I want to do is cause Him pain.
And that’s why it’s our attitudes that ultimately determine whether our actions are acts of worship or not. Scrubbing toilets while striving to honor God is far more pleasing to Him than serving meals with a scowl and a “let’s get this over with” attitude.
God looks at our hearts. If our hearts are filled with resentment, pride, and grudges, and if we only do what we thinks God wants because we feel we have to, that’s not worship. That doesn’t bring God pleasure any more than it would bring pleasure to any other parents if their children acted that way. It hurts Him just as it would them.
What God wants to see in our hearts is an honest longing to please Him. Humility, trust, respect, and a deep desire to do what He wants because we believe He deserves to be worshipped. Because He loves us and knows what’s best. Because He’d never ask us to do something harmful. Because we can trust Him with our entire lives – past, present, and future.
That’s worship. It’s what we were created to do, and it’s the most important thing we ever can do with our lives. It’s not simply an obligation, or a thing to check off our to-do list, but a privilege.
Who deserves to be respected, loved, and trusted more than the God who loves us so much He died for us?
And though I have a long ways to improve, I’m striving to turn my life into one full of worship. I’m choosing to focus my heart and mind on my Savior at all times. And most of all, I’m working to remember that worship is a matter of my attitude – and it’s something I can do any time, all the time, and for the rest of time.
Whether I’m singing praise, baking cookies, washing windows – or anything in between.
Will you join me in worship?
Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.
(Psalm 29:1-2 NIV)
1. You can learn more about The Purpose Driven Life here.