Today, the terms praise and worship are easily used to refer to fast and slow songs done in the church. Upbeat songs are considered praise, while slow songs are called worship. A select group, known as the praise and worship team, usually leads the congregants in these songs. The implication of branding only a few as praise and worship leaders is a subject of another time. In this article, we will examine if our current narrative of praise and worship aligns with scripture.
Understanding Praise and Worship
The Bible says God seeks true worshippers who will worship him in truth and spirit (John 4:23). Worship is creation’s response to the splendour and majesty of God, the Creator of all things (Isaiah 6:1–6, Exodus 15:11, Psalm 148:1–14). “Shachah” is the Hebrew word for worship which means to bow down or to prostrate oneself. The Greek word for worship is “Proskuneo” and refers to kissing the hand of one who is revered. To bow down before the presence of God is an outward display of an inner attitude of reverence towards him. Worship is to be reserved for God alone and nothing or no one else (Luke 4:8; Deuteronomy 6:13, Exodus 23:25). Worship could physically manifest through bowed knees, open arms, raised hands (1 Samuel 1:26; Jeremiah 18:20; Psalm 5:8; 28:2; 99:5; Isaiah 1:15).
From encountering scriptures such as Romans 12:1-2, it’s clear that worship should encompass all of life as one lives in obedience to God. Therefore, every act of obedience to Christ, no matter how mundane, when done for his glory, is an act of worship (Colossians 3:17). The consummation of our worship will occur when people from every tribe, tongue, and nation join with the rest of creation in adoration before the throne of the Lamb (Revelation 5:11–14). True worshippers of God, be they musicians in what we call praise and worship teams, are obligated first to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). A worshipper submits themselves entirely before God in humility and total surrender. Once this is done, they respond by serving in various capacities as an act of worship to Him.
Praise, an element of worship, refers to joyfully sharing God’s wondrous doings with others. God’s many wonderful deeds make him worthy of our praise (Psalm 18:3). He invites all creation to praise him. Jesus said that if people don’t do it, then even the stones will cry out (Luke 19:40). In the Bible, we see angels and also humans who sing, shout, dance and even praise through instruments (Luke 2:13-14; Psalm 148:2). King David did a serious dance to the Lord after success in battle as an act of worship to God (2 Samuel 6:14).
Differences Between Praise and Worship
There are several differences between praise and worship. As we go through them,
Growing up in church, I used to think that those who do slow songs while crying or lying down on the floor were the true worshipers of God. But, conversely, I have learnt that worship is about more than just singing. It is vain to only sing to the Lord while our hearts are far from him, as evidenced by a lifestyle of sin (Matthew 15:8).
Here are some noteworthy differences between praise and worship:
- We can do praise by ourselves or with others, while worship is only done in our innermost being.
- Praise is part of worship, while worship goes beyond praise.
- Praise can be applied to anybody, while worship is exclusively for God.
- Praise comes from appreciating the deeds of God, while worship comes from the core of the worshipper’s heart resulting from what God means to them.
- Praise applauds God’s actions, while worship honours God for who He is.
All Christians are expected to give their total allegiance to God alone. For music, each band member should have a personal and intentional walk with the Lord. Our service to God should flow from total surrender to Him, not just for showoff. I believe God desires heart worship rather than mere religiosity. May we strive for authentic praise and worship of the Lord.
- Esau McCaulley, “Worship,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).
- What Is Worship? What Theologians & the Bible Say. https://www.logos.com/grow/nook-what-is-worship/
- What’s the difference between praise and worship? – Legit. ng. https://www.legit.ng/1132664-whats-difference-praise-worship.html