I Just Want To Praise
Biblical worship comes from the heart, from the very core of our being, as we respond to who God is and what he has done. But in this post, I want to highlight a biblical perspective on engaging our body physically in worship expression as well.
Worship Leader, author and teacher Tom Kraeuter states, "Worship is wholehearted, passionate adoration of our Creator/Redeemer." In my own studies on worship, I have come to the conclusion that worship is predominately an action. Worship is a verb! Worship calls for participation. Psalm 133 states, "How good and pleasant it is when we live together in unity!" I would add: how good and pleasant it is when we gather together to participate in the worship of the Lord!
The most common Hebrew word for worship means "to bow down." The most common Greek word for worship means "to kiss (the hand) toward." Worship in the true Scriptural sense is not passive. (Now there are exceptions to every rule and we see in Genesis 47:31 that Jacob leaned on his staff and worshiped the Lord – but in fact, Jacob was very old at this point and this was probably the best he could do to bow before God. It shows he wasn’t content with the easier posture of sitting or reclining.)
The Bible and Physical Expression
When looking at Scripture as a whole, we see that worship requires action from the worshiper:
...all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord (2 Chronicles 20:18)
...Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground (Nehemiah 8:6)
...Come, let us bow down in worship (Psalm 95:6)
...They came to him (Jesus), clasped His feet and worshiped Him (Matthew 28:9)
...offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1)
...So he (an unbeliever) will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!" (1 Corinthians 14:25)
...the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and worship Him... (Revelation 4:10)
Physical Expressions Coming from the Heart
Worship must originate from the heart, but it cannot stay in the heart. Worship that is only kept inside one’s heart is passive. However, worship that is action only—absent of heart-level adoration—is not true worship either. God desires worship that originates in the heart and expresses itself in action. Physical expressions of worship are a great way to express what God is doing within our hearts.
We see a variety of physical expressions of worship throughout Scripture. One such expression is the lifting of hands. Psalm 134:2 states "Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord." Lifting our hands in worship is a way for us to physically tell God that we surrender ourselves to Him and to tell those around us that we give God alone our praise.
Always give your foremost attention to the posture of your heart in worship. But this Sunday when you gather with the body of Christ, I want to encourage you to not be passive, but to lift your hands before the Lord. Do something consciously to unite your physical gestures with the worship posture of your heart. Even if you usually don't raise your hands in worship, try it as you worship Him for all He has done and will do in your life. Who knows, God just may bless you in a special way as you stretch yourself in this area of worship.