Worship in the Bible is mentioned more than 8,000 times. God’s Word emphasizes the importance of worship. From corporate worship to individual worship, from scheduled worship to spontaneous worship—worship is important to God.
The Meaning of Worship in the Bible
The Hebrew word for worship is “shachah,” which means “bow down, to prostrate oneself.” Worship in the Bible involves humility and declaring the greatness of God. When we worship, we are laying down our own thoughts, ideas, and self to lift up God.
We can do this individually or corporately through song, dance, and prayer.
In short, worship in the Bible is how we glorify God.
Oftentimes, in Christian circles, the word “worship” is associated with music. However, worship involves taking action to honor and lift God up. Worship music is a powerful way to do that. Not only does it involve our hearts as we sing, play an instrument, raise our hands, and dance, but it also engages those around us when we worship together.
Types of Worship in the Bible
Praising, or exalting, God means to lift up or make His name high. The Bible is full of praises and declarations of His goodness. Praising God is coming before Him—personally or with others—and thanking Him for who He is and what He has done.
Example of Praising Worship in the Bible
- “… indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying: ‘For He is good, for His mercy endures forever,’ that the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud…”—2 Chronicles 5:13
Singing, like praising, lifts up the name of God. This is why we see these two acts of worship connected in the Bible. The Psalms are the most well-known collection of “singing” worship in the Bible. God’s Word calls all people, and even creation, to shout for joy and sing praises. Psalm 100 is a “song of praise for the Lord’s faithfulness.”
Example of Singing Worship in the Bible
- “Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and [b]not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.”—Psalm 100:1-5
Did you know that dancing is a form of worship in the Bible? That’s right. King David was filled with such gladness and joy that he responded to God’s goodness with singing and dancing. The Spirit of God was physically moving him in such a way that he could not contain himself.
Example of Dancing Worship in the Bible
- “Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet.”—2 Samuel 6:14-15
When we see the word “sacrifice” in the context of scripture, we often think of the blood of goats and bulls poured out on an altar. But the Apostle Paul wrote to believers in Rome that we are to present our bodies as living sacrifices. Jesus spoke about dying the self and taking up our crosses and following Him, and then we will have life.
So then, we can look at sacrifice through what Jesus has done for us, and our response is to be a living sacrifice dedicating our lives to serving and worshiping Him.
Example of Sacrifice Worship in the Bible
- “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”—Romans 12:1
Worship in the Bible and God’s Promise | 7 Scriptures
There is a promise in worship. God responds to us when we worship. His extravagant love pours out upon us when we surrender and commune with Him.
- When we worship, He lifts our burdens.
- When we worship, He shapes our hearts.
- When we worship, He moves.
7 Scriptures About Worship, Praise, and the Move of God
- “Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to today. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among the people.”—Psalm 96:1-3
- “Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”—Psalm 29:2
- “So you shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you.”—Exodus 23:25
- “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!”—Psalm 150:6
- “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.”—Acts 16:25
- “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory.”—Psalm 63:1-2
- “Let my mouth be filled with Your praise and with Your glory all the day.”—Psalm 71:8
How Do You Worship? In Spirit and Truth…
“’But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’”
—John 23-24 (emphasis added)
Jesus told us that we are to worship God in spirit and truth. But what does that mean?
Worship in Spirit
Worshiping God “in spirit” means to worship Him from a heart posture motivated to glorify Him. “In spirit” worship means that whatever we do to worship Him is from a place from within that desires to let out the love, adoration, and gratitude we have for Him.
The Holy Spirit awakens our spirits—our new identity in Christ—to come alive, stirring us to celebrate and rejoice. Worshiping in spirit is not about a ritualistic way of worshiping but rather connecting with God in such an intimate way that His Spirit leads and flows through you.
Worship in Truth
Worshiping in truth goes hand-in-hand with worshiping in the spirit. When you draw near to the Lord, the Lord draws near to you. He pursues you when you pursue Him. We do this when we worship in spirit and truth.
To “worship in truth” is to worship in alignment and agreement with God’s Word. What we declare, sing, and do during worship must reflect the realities and truth of the Bible. For example, singing about ourselves or creation as a god is not worshiping in truth. This is idolatry, not truth.
Worshiping in Spirit and Truth
Jesus called out people in His day who were worshiping with their lips but not with their heart.
- “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”—Matthew 15:7-9
Worship must engage the heart and emotions, but it also must stay in line with Biblical doctrine. There is a balance that only the Spirit of God can teach our hearts.
God cares about your emotions, and He asks you to stand on His truth.
Sing what is true and allow your heart to be filled with the love of God. When this happens, your response is worshiping in spirit and in truth.