As worshippers, there are many ways to be influential and effective for the Kingdom of God, and in order to make this a reality in our lives, we need to understand the “why” behind our worship. But… before we dig any further into the why, we must know “what” worship is and what it isn’t!
In my workshops, I often ask the worship team members this question: “What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word ‘worship’?” The most common answers are usually music, songs, singing, praise, or Hillsong. They are shocked when I tell them that there is not a single word for WORSHIP in the Bible that means “music”.
Here are the biblical definitions of worship:
- Shachah (Hebrew) – to bow down
- Proskuneo (Greek) – to prostrate before, kiss toward, to show reverence
Worship simply means “LOVE EXPRESSED”.
Although singing songs, clapping and playing instruments are all ways we can express our worship, they are not the definition. Worship is our response to who God is, what He has done and what He will do. When we understand the concept of worship being love expressed, then it puts our focus where it needs to be—and that changes everything going forward!
Now that we know WHAT worship is, we can grow in our understanding of WHY we worship. Here are some key reasons…
1. It’s what we were created for.
God wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him… to connect with Him. You are a worshipper first, and a musician second.
In order for us to be influential in our role as worship leaders, we need to grow in our private worship by being intentional to spend time alone in His presence. You cannot lead people to a place in worship that you haven’t already been yourself. When we take time to connect to God’s heart and hear His voice, we will be operating and leading out of an overflow—not an empty vessel.
2. It’s our ministry to God and others.
When it comes to using our gifts, our first priority is to express love to the Lord and second is to serve others by creating a space to encounter the Lord’s presence corporately.
1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
In the Bible, priests tended to and cared for the tabernacle. Our role as a modern-day priesthood is to prepare the room or space. For example, if you had company coming over, you would most likely clean the house, mow the grass, light some candles, prepare food and other things in order to create a warm, inviting atmosphere. You want them to come and stay. In the same way, we should be preparing a space for the King of Kings to come and dwell in our praises. We want Him to STAY!
As priests, we provide an opportunity to connect people to their Creator. I visually think of it as reaching one hand out to the congregation and reaching the other hand up to God and saying “Congregation, meet your loving Heavenly Father”… and then getting out of the way. We do this by leaning in and leading the room in worship to God. We also prepare the atmosphere by limiting distractions, coming prepared, and operating in that overflow we talked about earlier.
We are carriers of His presence, and when His spirit is IN us and UPON us, the world takes notice—in other words, we are ambassadors of Christ and we should have influence everywhere we place our feet, because the presence of God changes the atmosphere! This is very clear in Isaiah 61:1…
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.”
3. Worship is our weapon of warfare.
Expressing love (in all its forms) is a weapon that brings the presence of the Almighty God into the situation. I love this example in Acts 16:25 of what can happen in worship…
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open and everybody’s chains came loose.”
How cool is that?
People come into our churches with wounds, brokenness and challenges. When you as a worshipper realize what is taking place in the spirit realm during worship, it changes your perspective. You understand that you are not just singing songs, but that battles can be won in the middle of worship!
In times of war, the Bible mentions that the musicians were sent out ahead of the army to sing and praise as they advanced to the next battle. As worship leaders, we are on the frontline and are the first point of contact with the enemy. Think of the worship team as the “tip of the spear”. We need to be sharpened daily by His Word and stay in intimate relationship with God so that we are ready. We can’t be effective in spiritual warfare if our preparation and craft are dull.
I would encourage you to stay aware as you lead and be sensitive to His voice and to your surroundings in order to lead with authority and insight. If we are not allowing our spiritual eyes to be open during worship, then we may miss what God is saying or doing.
When we truly understand what worship is and why we worship, it causes us to take inventory of our own lives and see if anything needs to be re-aligned in us. When I personally began to walk these truths out in my own worship leading, I experienced His presence in a fresh way and my worship became purposeful. You were fearfully and wonderfully made and God gave you a unique sound all your own—and when you authentically express love to Him and realize your role as a worshipper, you will see your worship experience with new eyes and a fresh perspective!