Praise and Worship: There's a Difference....

Today we continue with my series for the month of June: Worshiping God Up Close and Personal.  The Holy Spirit led me to focus on worship and to take pride in our Father who created, transformed, and redeemed us. I have termed this month God Pride Month. We are bragging about our God! We want all creation to know how great and awesome He is. Therefore we praise and worship Him openly and with abandon. In this posting we look at the difference between worship and praise.

Beginning with praise we see several Biblical words translated as ‘praise’. The primary words include: Halal (Heb)-to be clear of sound or color, to make a show or to boast, to be clamorous, to rave or celebrate; Yadah (Heb.)-to hand over, to throw at, to revere as with extended hands, to confess praise (from root word ‘yad’, meaning open hands); Thillah (Heb.)-laudation, hymn, praise (from ‘halal’); Epainos (Gk.)-laudation, commendable thing, praise; Doxa (Gk.)-dignity, glory, honor, praise, worship; Humneo (Gk.)-sing a religious ode; sing a hymn.

From these words I developed a cumulative definition. To praise is to clearly boast, rave or celebrate in words and song by handing over or throwing ourselves and our words toward the Father with open hands lauding His works, honoring Him, giving Him glory and commending Him for what He has done. 

Praise is physical! We physically express our adoration of God. Praise is neither passive nor quiet. You cannot praise the Lord in spirit and in truth by observing others praising Him or by keeping your mouth shut.  Then you are only offering passive compliance while withholding your soul and body from participation!

When we praise the Lord we openly demonstrate with our words, body, sounds, and even colors and express how awesome He is to us and what He has done in us and for us. According to scripture, praise is almost always loud, accompanied by musical instruments and songs.  Voices are emphasized over and over in praise and worship, i.e. the words we speak and sing are IMPORTANT! We should praise Him in a ‘loud voice’! Halleluiah! When Nehemiah praised God upon completion of the wall around Jerusalem the Word says ‘the sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away’. (Neh. 12:43)

Now let’s look at worship. Worship is a broader, deeper and higher concept of bringing glory to God. It is not confined to music, song, dance or words, but may include all of those. Worship is translated through several Hebrew and Greek words that elaborate on the concept. The primary words include: Shachah (Heb.)-to depress as in prostrate homage to royalty or God; to bow down, crouch, beseech, to stoop; Cegid (Heb.)-to worship; Cagad (Heb.)-to prostrate oneself in homage, to fall down; Sumphemi (Gk.)-to say jointly, i.e. assent to; consent unto; Sebazonai (Gk.)-to venerate; adore as in worship; Thereskeia/Threskos (Gk.)-to ceremoniously worship, to demonstrate.

From these words I have a more complete definition. To worship is to lower oneself in humility by bowing, prostrating or falling down to demonstrate homage, adoration and veneration toward God; including joint unified consent in demonstrated ceremony toward the One being worshipped.

Again we see the physical demonstration of expressing our love of God….bowing, prostrating, falling before Him in demonstrated adoration. Note that worship can also include a form of ‘ceremony’, i.e. doing some formal act in worship. For example we worship God when we receive the elements of communion. This is a formal, unified act of worship in the church. Worship requires a strong dose of humility, similar to coming before royalty. Under the old covenant, praise occurred in the outer court and beyond, never in the holy place (inner court) or the holy of holies where the Spirit of God resided. Only worship was offered in the holy of holies. It was offered in humility, bowing, and demonstrating veneration of God and His presence.

Worship is a more intimate act than praise. Worship is all about who God is, rather than what He does. Worship implies an intimacy, close proximity to the Father, that is not associated with praise, It implies entering the Most Holy Place……in gatherings of people it implies joint congregational consent and demonstrative agreement to go together; Entering the Most Holy Place together is unified worship, demonstrated by the Body agreeing (or consenting) that the One worshipped is worthy to be worshipped. Where there is agreement, there is power and glory in the church.

So today may you praise and worship Him with abandon, throwing yourself toward the Father, loudly, humbly, physically, and boastfully declaring that God is the Great I am, the Lord of Lords, and the soon coming King of Kings!

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