what is true worship
Praise Foundations,  WORSHIP & THE WORD

What is True Worship? 4 Biblical Foundations of Worship + Praise

Understanding the purpose of praise and worship is critical to “why” you worship. Everyone has a reason for “why” they worship, but many still want to know: What is true worship? While there aren’t Scriptural “rules” defining” what is “right” worship and what is “wrong” worship, according to the Word of God, there is a design, a due order and a desire of the Lord for praise and worship. In the most simplified definition, worship was created for one reason – to minister to the Lord.

Of course the Lord ministers to His people through worship, too, but if you’ve ever studied the Word of God for the answer to “What is true worship?”, here is the most powerful, most basic principle: The whole point of praise and worship is to connect with the Spirit of God! Plenty of Christians fret and argue about what “true worship” is, but the principles and foundations of how God defines praise and worship are only found in His Word and were spoken by God Himself, expressing His desire for His people to draw closer by entering into His presence through praise.

The Biblical Definition of Worship is Ministry to the Lord

Even people of genuine, godly faith sometimes overcomplicate worship, and misunderstand the Biblical purpose and then wonder why they don’t experience what others seem to have in Christ. One of the most common misunderstandings about worship is that it is about the worshipper. God is faithful to minister through worship because His holy presence is filled with miracle-working power, but some look for the “blessings and promises” or personal ministry attached to worship instead of drawing close to bless, thank and praise the “author and finisher” of their faith. We don’t worship God for a result. We worship for a reason – His worthiness.

There isn’t anything you can ever give the Lord that He needs, but there is plenty you can give Him that desires from you.

~Alicia Purdy

“Oh, give thanks unto the Lord; call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing unto Him, sing praises unto Him; proclaim all His wondrous works. Glory in His holy name; let the heart rejoice for those who seek the Lord. Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continuously. Remember His marvelous works that He has done, His wonders and the judgments from His mouth.” (Psalm 105:5)

What is Worship? Here are the 4 Primary Things God’s Word Says He Desires

THANKSGIVING

In Psalm 50:12-14 & 23 the Lord said, “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all its fullness. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Sacrifice a thank offering to God. Whoever sacrifices a thank offering glorifies Me and makes a way…” Leviticus 22:29 says, When you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted.”

Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter into His gates with thanksgivingand into His courts with praise; be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” God desires a deeper connection with you and that will always start with gratitude. There isn’t anything you can ever give the Lord that He needs, but there is plenty you can give to Him that desires from you. True worship starts with gratitude to Him and without it, there can be no deeper passion connected to praising Him.

OBEDIENCE

One of the most beautiful, powerful things about Jesus was found in His worship. If you’ve ever wondered what true worship is, look at the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus understood the supernatural power of praise because He desired to connect with the Father. He worshipped when things were great, as shown in Luke 10:21 when He “jumped for joy” in the Holy Spirit, and when things were bad, as in Matthew 26:30 before heading to the Garden of Gethsemane for His betrayal to the cross.

Romans 12:1 puts it this way in the New Living Translation: “I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him.” Jesus did not have to take the cross, but was obedient to the point of death, according to Philippians 2:8. In the New Covenant, worship is optional, not a command. It’s a desire. Worship, in spirit and in truth, is also, however, a sign of willing submission from an obedient heart that doesn’t need to be asked or commanded.

SACRIFICE

Psalm 116:12,17 says, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving and will call upon the name of the Lord.” Psalm 118:27, says, “The Lord is God, and He has shown us His light; bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.” The thing about sacrifice is this: Nothing wants to die! That’s why animals kick, and bleat and writhe to get away. And knowing that, the Word says to “bind the sacrifice” to the altar. Why? Because otherwise you might run away!

What is true worship? It’s the death of things that needed to die anyway. Sacrifice is counterintuitive to your natural, protective survival instinct. The sacrifice of praise is a hard one to give when you least feel like it- raising your hands, singing, clapping, dancing. Worship will feel physically and emotionally difficult at times, but you sacrifice anyway because of your desire to honor the Lord, to set aside yourself to lift Him high.

Sacrifice is one of the foundational building blocks of true worship because it is the reason Jesus came to earth, and it precious in the Lord’s sight it is an honor to Him. In 2 Sam. 24:24 David said, “I would never give the Lord anything that didn’t cost me.” You’ll find the true power of praise when you sacrifice yourself before Him.

MINISTRY

Ministry to the Lord is the most significant and fundamental aspect what is true worship – ministry to Him must be the “why” for every worshipper. Everything else is secondary. Four times in Exodus 28 when the Lord is laying out the perimeters for the priestly garments the sons of Aaron would wear (they were the people chosen to initiate the priestly line of God’s people) He says this phrase, “Minister to Me.” The garments the Lord gave Aaron were for beauty and for glory. 

Revelation 1:16 and 5:10 note that the people of God are all made to be kings and priests. In 1 Peter 2:9 Peter wrote that God’s people were chosen to be a royal priesthood. The purpose of the priesthood in the Bible was to minister to the Lord. That isn’t just the job of the pastor and the worship team! Every believer is called to minister to the Lord. Praise and worship – the point of supernatural connect between your spirit and the Holy Spirit of God – is how He has defined what is true worship. His desire is not only that you know Him more, but that you allow Him to know you and opening up your spirit in personal worship, building a lifestyle of praise and worship and presenting your body as a living sacrifice to Him builds the deeper intimacy that He desires and you need.

Explore More Biblical Foundations for Worship:

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