Beyond Praise To Worship

Carlton L. Coon, Sr.

The Difference

There is a contrast between praise and worship:

* We praise Jesus for what He has done; we worship Him because of who He is!
* The posture of praise is constant motion; the posture of worship is inner prostration at the presence of God.
* Praise is loud and busy; worship, still and quiet. Praise is as boisterous as a mountain brook; worship has the still depth of a lake.

Let’s establish some observations, so as to not be misunderstood:

* “Good church” begins with praise; the best of services ends in worship.
* One flows through praise to get to worship. Worship is not a 100-yard dash. It is a journey with the exaltation of Jesus Christ as King, Lord, and God Almighty as the destination.
* Most church gatherings do not move beyond praise. Few have much patience for or training in the deeper things of worship.

C. Pat Williams recently said, “Our 2011 Florida District Conference was the best we’ve ever had.” When I queried him as to why, he spoke of a renowned preacher who took an hour to simply teach about some matters that limit growth. At the end of his discourse and without any appeal, the altar simply filled up with preachers and preachers’ wives on their faces before the Lord. It flowed into worship. The next two scheduled speakers were cancelled by worship that swept the auditorium.

Would I rather preach people to their feet during my sermon or to their knees in worship? Sometimes we become so intent on praise, that we don’t allow space for worship. Our services do not leave room for quiet; we are uncomfortable with an unused microphone or times when there is no music.

Roadblocks to Worship

Several things get in the way of cultivating worship:

* Too quickly moving to the next thing.
* A fear of silence. Dead air scares us . . . but is it dead air if God is working?
* Being too easily satisfied to have praised.
* Not pursuing enough experiences in worship.

So how do we overcome these obstacles? It begins with somebody desiring a ministry of worship within the local church. If we are content without worship, it will not happen.
A Biblical Perspective on Worship

One of David’s traits was passionate worship. Do I know the sense of longing after God as a thirsty deer longs for water? David did! Four qualities of David’s worship leap out:

1. Worship is based on a life. David’s worship began outside the sanctuary in the context of daily life: “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance. In thy name shall they rejoice all the day” (Psalms 89:15-16).

David was talented, but it was never, “it is my day to do worship.” It was always David’s day to do worship. David’s public demonstration was an overflow of his private fellowship. Worship is never performance . . . it can be the sound of inadequate voices and unskilled hands, giving honor to the Lord of glory.

Like the making of a good meal, worship cannot be hurried; it is the product of “all day long I’ve been with Jesus . . . all day long my lips have uttered praise.”

2. Worship is not stingy. Worship is not budgeted. David expresses the heart of a real worshiper in Psalm 27:4: “One thing (Notice: one thing, or one petition) have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life.” This place “the house of the Lord” was David’s priority. Worship is the ointment poured from a broken alabaster box; it is oil that cannot be re-gathered.

Across the pages of the Bible, worship is pursued by God.

* God told Moses to ask Pharaoh to let His people go . . . so they could worship Him (Exodus 4:22-23).
* Leviticus is an instruction book for priests . . . an instruction book on how to worship God.
* Jesus prioritized Mary’s worship over Martha’s busyness: “And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).
* Jesus defended the woman whose intentional adoration caused her to pour precious oil on Him (Matthew 26:10).

The Posture of Worship

So how are we to worship? The very posture of worship is distinct from praise.

* KNEELING – “Let us worship and bow down” (Psalms 95:6-7).
* SILENCE – “The Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him” (Habakkuk 2:20).
* SINCERITY – Israel’s solemn assemblies, which gathered people and called them back to simplicity, are a demonstration of worship.

Remember the worship of the healed leper (Luke 17:11-19): “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.” This man’s example of worship got Jesus’ attention and should get ours:

1. When he saw Jesus, he recognized his own deficiencies and cried out for mercy.
2. While the nine got what they wanted and went on their way, this leper lingered.
3. The leper glorified God. Imagine the heartfelt honor of this act.
4. The leper fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving thanks. Humility and thanksgiving met as he glorified God.

Reaching the Realm of Worship

To have Revival in a Plain Brown Wrapper, we must be people of worship. And to cultivate the commitment to worship, we must lead to and instill a love for worship. If we create converts and disciples who are not worshipers, then we have not truly developed Christians.

In 1 Peter, Peter takes worship beyond first priority and establishes it as the church’s purpose: “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, (To what purpose) to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-5).

Here are checklist questions to evaluate your commitment to work through:

* Does your church family understand the difference between praise and worship?
* How many times in the last six months has your service overcome all roadblocks and entered the depth of genuine worship?
* Can you say that the new believers you’ve discipled in the last two years are worshipers?

Putting It All to Work for You

Worship is not so illusive that we must bargain with God to achieve it. The choice to pursue it rests with us. Here are some steps to move your people into Revival in a Plain Brown Wrapper kind of worship.

* Honestly evaluate worship in your life and in those you lead.
* Consider teaching a lesson or a series on worship, clarifying the difference between praise and worship.
* Lead your people by example, taking time in every service to consciously, sincerely worship God. If people don’t see you do this, it will never happen.
* Train your service and worship leaders on how to respond to the move of the Spirit and flow into worship. There may be times when a pastor really has to direct things – including stopping everything else that is going on.
* Think beyond the church service. Promote worship as an overflow of each believer’s personal relationship with the Lord, encouraging daily prayer and praise at home. Such actions will make reaching a depth of worship in service a natural consequence.

This article “Beyond Praise to Worship” by Carlton L. Coon, Sr. was excerpted from: Director’s Communiqu. July – August 2011. It may be used for study & research purposes only.