What is Worship that pleases God? It is when we come before God to offer our praise and gratitude, to confess our sin and confusion, to offer ourselves, full of love and wonder. We offer our vulnerability to God’s desires for us and we come to listen to what He wants to tell us. As we come to Him in worship, God responds to us. He assures us of forgiveness, He comforts and heals us, He embraces us in love. He teaches us His ways. And then He sends us out to serve.
The work of worship belongs to everyone. Each of us contributes to worship, we either promote worship or hinder it. Even when leaders don’t help us as they should, each of us can take practical steps to improve our own experience or worship and help those who worship with us. Therefore, we need to understand more clearly what it means to worship. We need to prepare to worship God, and to participate dynamically in community worship. We should not just attend and hope to be inspired. We have a responsibility before God and our community members to participate and contribute to the worship atmosphere and worship proper, and to prepare ourselves physically and spiritually to give our best during the worship assembly.
Focus on God is the key to spirit-filled worship for worship is our response to our Creator. When we worship God, we are acknowledging that He is worthy of our praise. By worshiping Him, we are practicing for heaven.
Worship is an act of giving ourselves to God, of showing our devotion to Him, of saying that we love Him. By our worship we give joy to the heart of God. Worship transforms us, empowers us, liberates and renews us in the image of our Creator (2 Cor 3:18). Worship deepens our relationship with God, with Jesus His Son, and with the Holy Spirit. It strengthens us for the tasks that God wills for us.
Preparing Ourselves for Worship
The quality of our worship together in assembly depends a great deal on what we do between assemblies during our every day life. Everything that we do for the Lord is worship. We worship by the way we live our lives, by being aware of the clouds in the sky, the brilliant colors of the flowers, the smiles on the faces of those around us. He is the Creator, He is holy. Some ways of warming up for worship include: practicing stillness, staying alert to God, inviting God to teach us how to worship in spirit and in truth, nurturing expectancy, creating time and space before the worship to prepare oneself for the community worship experience, to set aside our concerns of the day so we will be able to focus fully on God.
During community worship God expects us to participate fully, to focus on Him, and to help/enable others to do the same. We should help maintain a worship atmosphere (no loud talking or chizmis, turn off our cellphones, etc.) both before and during the assembly. And we should come to worship with a thankful and a joyful heart and countenance, leaving our frowns, tiredness, and sorrows outside the door.
Worship is a Celebration
Since knowing and experiencing God is such good news, we celebrate! The Bible tells us of a great heavenly banquet that we’ll enjoy when Christ’s reign comes to full flower, a feast to end all feasts (Isaiah 25:6; Rev. 19:9). Worship together is the weekly/monthly potluck we keep in the interim, and it is filled with the joy and triumph that Christ’s presence means even now.
At a potluck, as in worship, we don’t come privately to eat our own baon. We bring something to share in “agape”, and we feast on what others have brought as well. We tell each other of God’s goodness, and we laugh and shout and sing. We’re serious, but not grim. In the midst of it all, God – God among us – is the life of the party.
Our worship is our response to God’s presence at the party, at His presence in our lives, at His presence in our celebration as the reason for our celebration.
Worship That Pleases God
The kind of worship that pleases God has four characteristics: it must be accurate, authentic, thoughtful, and practical.
• God is pleased when our worship is accurate … based on Scripture truths, not on our opinions about God. Hebrews 12:28. John 4:23.
• God is pleased when our worship is authentic. Our worship must be genuine and heartfelt, not a matter of words but of attitude and real love for Him, an attitude of the heart. Real worship happens when your spirit responds to God. Matthew 12:30. 1 Samuel 16:7b.
• God is pleased when our worship is thoughtful. If worship is mindless, it is meaningless. We should avoid clichés, be specific in our praises and think of fresh ways to worship God.
• God is pleased when our worship is practical. In worship we are to offer ourselves, our bodies as “living sacrifices”. Romans 12:1. Real worship takes time and energy … and our physical presence during the assembly. Other ways of practical worship include: serving others joyfully, sharing with those in need, offering of our time, talent and treasure, worshipping and praising God even when we don’t feel like it.
The bottom line is that our worship must please God. Worship that pleases God is focused on Him, not on ourselves, or on the worship leader, or on those brothers and sisters around us.
Creating a Worship Atmosphere
Atmosphere (mood, tone, spirit) is the feeling you get when you enter the worship area. When we attend a Friday Assembly to praise and worship God, is our assembly place welcoming? Does it inspire us to lift up our hearts and spirits to God? Do we feel it is a place worthy of the presence of our Lord? Or is it just a collection of chairs in front of a hastily assembled altar with a crucifix and bible, in a room that is obviously being used during the day for more mundane purposes (business, classroom, bingo games)? The venue does not have to be “church-like” but it should be a place in which we would be happy to welcome the Lord in our midst.
We need to create a Worship Atmosphere that motivates and encourages everyone to give their utmost best in praising and worshipping God. There are six major things to consider in creating a worship atmosphere: expectation, celebration, affirmation, incorporation, restoration, and liberation.
• Expectation. “Something good is going to happen.” There is excitement, energy, and a spirit of anticipation about being together to worship God.
• Celebration. Psalm 100:2 says, “Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” There is an atmosphere of gladness and joy. People are smiling and friendly.
• Affirmation. Our worship time should be a time of encouragement and a time to hear and share the Good News. Start positive and end positive. Jesus looked for the best in people, and we should, too.
• Incorporation. We are a family, a community. We welcome each other with cheerful greetings, we interact with each other, we share with each other. This is a place and time where people can feel they truly belong.
• Restoration. Life is a challenge. One of the purposes of regular worship is to be spiritually and emotionally restored and recharged. Worship is a spiritual oasis in the middle of life’s busyness.
• Liberation. The Bible says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:17). Worship is a time when we can be free from our daily concerns, and be free to touch and be touched by God.
Source: BCBP Worship and Music Formation Workshop, developed by BCBP Manila members Francis Mapile and Nancy Catan, Module 1: Worship.