[The following is the conclusion of one of the chapters in a forthcoming book on worship. In the book, the reader is taken on a journey into the word of God in order to restore the true worship that is therein explained.]
From the definitions of the words that are used in the Bible in reference to worship, we would conclude that worship is inward, not outward, though worship can be expressed in certain outward actions and behavior, such as bowing down in homage or serving in thanksgiving for the grace of God. Such things as singing and praying are not within themselves worship, but only the outward expressions of an inward appreciation and adoration of God. When one partakes of the Lord’s Supper, one’s hands and mouth are used in eating and drinking. But partaking of the Supper in eating and drinking is not worship.
No action of the worshiper to express worship is worship in and of itself. If such outward actions did constitute worship, then the worshipers could involve themselves in all sorts of ceremonial acts of worship, and then call the performance of such acts to be worship. It is for this reason that the phrase “acts of worship” can be very misleading. Self-deceived people can convince themselves that they have truly worshiped God after they have legally performed what they consider to be “acts of worship.”
For example, one can certainly partake of the Lord’s Supper and sing without worshiping. One can help his neighbor by serving his needs without doing so in worship of God. Unbelievers help their neighbors, but they do not do so in worship of God. We must keep in mind, therefore, that one can worship without any outward expressions or actions. Worship is internal, and specifically, individual. Worship pours forth from the heart without necessarily being manifested by any outward behavior in an assembly. The aged crippled widow sitting idle in her rocking chair alone at home can be worshiping truly in her heart. The only evidence of her worship may be a single tear flowing down her face. True worship can take place when one is alone in a closet, or in the presence of an assembly in an auditorium.
Though worship is internal and mental, it often finds its expression in one’s behavior. This is the meaning of Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 11:29: “For he who eats and drinks not discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment to himself.” The problem is that at the same time some in Corinth were externally eating and drinking the Lord’s Supper, they had carnal feelings in their hearts. If one eats and drinks with a carnal heart, then he or she is not worshiping. Actions, therefore, can never be the signal of true worship, or even worship itself.
However, worship can be expressed in the behavior of one’s life. It is for this reason that external crutches that are used to generate worship in the heart, as physical environments, solemn ceremonies, burning incense, and special sanctuaries, often present a false sense of worship simply because those who rely on such external crutches have often not first given their hearts in worship of God. After the euphoria of the concert, for example, many who are motivated externally to worship are back to their same behavior and life-style Monday morning at the job. They performed a ceremony of acts of worship during the “worship hour” on Sunday morning that did not result from the daily outpouring of an inner worship that they lived every day of their lives. Entertained religionists often experience a momentary mesmerizing euphoria, but true worship does not seek to be entertained, neither does it subside after the “closing prayer.” True worshipful hearts exist daily regardless of any external stimuli.
Worshipful saints can bring their spirit of worship together in assemblies. However, if our thinking is that we go to the “hour” and “place” of worship in order to be stirred into worship through performances by ourselves or others, then we have missed the point. Worship must take place in an individual’s heart regardless of his or her presence with others, and in particular, before entering into any “place of worship.”
Unfortunately, we live in a pandemic time when previously “worship” was too often confined to places, times, ceremonies and entertaining assemblies. It is all now different as millions of believers around the world are confined to their homes, and thus, cannot perform what was previously considered “true” worship. These are times in which believers must dig deep into their own hearts in order to discover hidden treasures of worship that have been buried for years under the rubbish of ceremonial religiosity.
We must never forget that true worship has always characterized the spiritual nature of God’s people. True worship has always been poured out from godly hearts regardless of where the believer was when he or she had a moment of inspiration to worship. True worshipers have always worshiped anywhere and anytime. Worship warriors have always worship God individually first in their hearts. Worship with others was only a serendipity as believers would come together in a common fellowship with one another, or when two or more believers had the opportunity to be in one anothers’ presence. Worship has always existed within the heart of the faithful regardless of any opportunity to be in the presence of others. After all, worship in the lives of godly believers as Enoch, Noah, Abraham and David existed thousands of years before there was such a thing as “Christian assemblies.”