What does it mean to worship? To gain an appreciation of what it means to worship, one could start with how one defines experiential worship. A person’s aesthetic capacity helps them experience God and find spiritual meaning in worship; it can also help characterize ones understanding of what it means to worship. When one answers these questions, an individual can begin to define their theology of worship.
What does it mean to worship? I like the definition given by author Stormie Omartian in her book, The Prayer That Changes Everything, where she states, “Worship and praise is the purest form of prayer because it focuses our minds and souls entirely away from ourselves and on to Him…That’s because praise welcomes His presence in our midst.” (9). She also states, “We were created to worship God…Worship must become a lifestyle” (22). Therefore, worship is devotion, adoration or love for God. We fulfill our purpose when we reverence God in our times of worship.
Worship involves one’s experiences. Experiential worship involves one’s thoughts and emotions. In the book, Experience God in Worship, the contributing author, Jack W. Hayford states, “One of Jesus’ most profound statements about worship came as he offered the woman at the well an opportunity to empty her cup of loneliness and brokenness and have it filled with his love (John 4:3-26). This passage illustrates that worship involves an exchange between God and his people. Healing and joy flow into our lives from heaven as we offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1)” (137). When believers do as scripture instructs, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30), individuals experience worship.
The individual is involving their heart (how they feel), they are involving they mind (their thoughts) and with the strength of their being. In the online article by Rich Warren, titled Planned for God’s Pleasure, he states, “God wants me to love him thoughtfully “with my mind”, passionately “with my heart and soul” and practically “with my strength” (1). Experiential worship then calls for the individual to become part of the worship by entering into the presence of God through their thoughts, as they think on the goodness of God. Just as Jack Hayford stated, when Jesus invited the woman to empty her cup of loneliness and brokenness, he was inviting her into an experience of worship where she would receive healing of her spirit from God. That is a vital part of worship. We come into the presence of God and experience his power to heal us of our brokenness and to fill our cups until they overflow with his goodness. When we receive these blessings from the Lord, we are to praise him in our thoughts, in our heart and souls and with our very strength. “God desired to bless people with victory, mercy, and lovingkindness. As we observe the worship life of David, it’s impossible to avoid one powerful conclusion: Not only is God unopposed to emotional, expressive worship – he welcomes it” (Hayford, 139).
Barna, George, et. al. Experience God in Worship. Loveland, CO: Group Publishing, Inc. 2000.
Warren, Rick. Planned for God’s Pleasure. 2002. 7 January 2007. http://webct.macu.edu.
Pmin-3303 Unit 1. Experiencing God through the Human Aesthetic Capacity. 7 January 2007. http://webct.macu.edu/