7 Essentials for True and Acceptable Worship

Last week we noted that Scripture does not define worship. Even so, it is not impossible to know what worship is. We need only take the time to observe worship in the Bible to learn how to offer worship that is true and acceptable in the eyes of God.

This was David’s heart cry.

Consider what we know about the word magnify. First, a magnifying glass or microscope can be used to make something small appear bigger than it is. Think about science class or examining small insects in your backyard. Or we can use a telescope to make something large look as big as it really is. This is what the great telescopes of the world do for us as we peer into the vast universe.

When David says he will magnify God, he does not mean that he will make God look bigger than He is. That is absurd. It is impossible for us to add anything to our perfect Creator.

No, what David means is that he will make his big God begin to look as big as He really is.

The call to magnify the Lord is a call to exaltation, to worship. The idea is to focus on who God is and what He does – His beauty, goodness, truth, mighty deeds, the wonder. It is to look at Him closely and allow His image to fill our line of sight so fully that we are unable to see anything else.

We focus, He fills our vision. Then He becomes our vision.

Our worship – worship that is true – is a magnifying of God. It is an act that shows how magnificent He is. Worship reveals and expresses His greatness and His glory. It reflects God’s value and declares His worth.

Our duty, as believers in Christ, is to feel, think, and act in a way that will make God look at great as He really is!

The word worship comes from an Old English word weorþscipe.  It means worthship or to ascribe worth to something. Our worship, therefore, has everything to do with God’s worth.

When our worship is small, it is because our view of God is small. And when our worship is nearly nonexistent, it is because we have stopped beholding God as treasure.

True worship is offered in acknowledgement of God’s worth. It is an expression of His worthship.

Recognizing God’s worthship helps us offer true worship with reverence, honor, and respect. This means worship in its truest form goes far beyond the singing of songs. It requires complete engagement and surrender of our heart, mind, strength, and soul to the One who is worthy.

Worship is response. It is what happens in our spirit when we see God for who He really is. It’s our response to who He is – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer – and to all He has done in creation, history, and redemption. It is acknowledgement and praise in response to His Word, His greatness, and His glory. Worship is an active heart-response to this knowledge.

Singing, giving, and serving are all a part of worship. And each is an excellent way to extend worship go God. Often, however, in our need to keep things moving, to get things done, to do, we just keep bulldozing – never allowing ourselves time for response.

A proper response requires space. Instead of bulldozing our way through a list of activities, we need to be intentional to create space – generous space for response.

True worship is a matter of the head and the heart. It is essential that we have head knowledge of Jesus (truth). Our worship must be grounded in His truth. However, it cannot be offered solely from head knowledge. Worship comprised of head knowledge alone risks joyless, legalistic worship.

To worship in spirit means to worship with our whole heart. This is worship beyond head knowledge. It is worship born from the day-to-day-transformation that occurs as we grow in relationship with God.  This is passion for God. Even here there is a risk, however. For if our worship is based on emotions alone, our worship will be as erratic as they.

Eighteenth-century pastor and theologian, Jonathan Edwards, summed up the idea of worshiping in spirit and in truth well when he said, “I should think myself in the way of my duty to raise the affections [emotions] of my hearers as high as possibly I can, provided that they are affected with nothing but truth.”

Jesus said that the Father was seeking those who would worship Him in spirit and in truth. Together these words mean that true worship comes from the spirit within you and is based on true understanding of God.

God expects His children to gather regularly. We are to assemble faithfully with our primary purpose being the worship of God. Meet, gather, assemble – without question, these words mean that we are to be in the physical presence of other believers. Truly, there is an element of worship that can only be experienced when we “meet together” with other believers.

Yet, no matter how satisfying and fulfilling our regular public worship gatherings seems, there are experiences He gives only in our private worship.

Here, we can look to Jesus as our example. In the book of Luke, we read that He attended the synagogue each Sabbath (Luke 4:16). Additionally, the fact that He attended many other assemblies of Israel at the temple in Jerusalem is recorded. Therefore, we know that Jesus participated faithfully in the public worship of God. Likewise, we know that Jesus worshipped privately because it is often recorded that He “would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:16).

Clearly, God expects us to worship privately.

Praise is our sacrifice. And these verses in Hebrews tell us we are to offer it continually, not just for an hour on Sunday morning.

At the very moment of our conversion, we become worshippers of God.

This means that our worship is not reserved for church on Sunday. It is not limited to the singing of congregational songs. Neither is it the name we give an experience that includes lifting our hands or closing our eyes. Rather, as a sacrifice, it is something we do, and it is to permeate our entire lives.

Everything we do is worship of someone – either God or ourselves. For the believer in Christ, worship is to be a daily expression and attitude toward God, one that praises and acknowledges His worth. Our daily acts are worship whenever they are performed out of a desire to reflect His glory and point to His greatness. He is worshiped in the singing of praise songs, sharing of the Gospel, speaking of the truth, and love for His church. But it doesn’t stop there. We can worship God through our eating, drinking, working, cooking, parenting, driving, and neighboring. Also, the way we handle our money, honor our marriage vows, speak to family members, and extend forgiveness to those who have offended us can be acts of worship.

Our days on this earth (however many they may be) are simply a brief preparation for our eternal occupation – giving God wholehearted, inexhaustible, continual worship.

To worship God throughout a lifetime requires discipline.

Worship is a spiritual discipline.

In our post, A Condensed Cyclopedia of the Spiritual Disciplines, we discussed what we qualify as a spiritual discipline. (If you missed that post, you can read it here.)

Here is just a glimpse of the criteria from that post. Spiritual disciplines are:

  • Taught and modeled in the pages of the Bible.
  • Derived from the gospel. When practiced rightly, they take us deeper into the glories of the gospel of Jesus.
  • God’s invitation to us to be still, to draw near, and to know Him.
  • Sufficient for knowing and experiencing God and for growing in Christlikeness.

These essentials lead to worship that is true and acceptable in the eyes of God. And the more we truly worship, the more we become like Him.


Beginning Monday, March 4, 2024

Just for Praise and Worship is a 10-week “journey” in growing in response to God. The group will meet via a private Facebook group and spend ten weeks working through the accompanying booklet which is included.

The cost for the group is $10.00. This includes membership and the booklet.

To learn more or sign up, click HERE

Be sure to sign up soon. We begin on Monday, March 4, 2024.