How To Worship - Chris Adams
This page contains a transcription of the podcast episode entitled, “How To Worship” presented by Chris Adams.
Worship is a response to the now presence of God. It’s a special moment. In this episode Chris explains true worship and how to take your worship to another level in experiencing the presence of God.
“Hello and welcome back to our last topic on the four-part series “Getting to know God”. We hope you have been getting something out of these times and enjoying the topics about growing your relationship with God to the next level.
In this episode, “Learning to worship”, our guest speaker Chris Adams is going to unpack true worship and explain how we can respond to the now presence of God. Chris is a gifted worship leader with over a decade of experience in discipling young worship leaders in the mission. He is a regular on our training schools and you’re about to find out why. Get ready to be inspired to go a new level in your worship times.”
Well, we’re going to talk about worship in this section. Worship is an interesting word because it has a huge range of meaning in how we use the word. I’ll give you some examples. You’ve probably heard the the phrase ‘a lifestyle of worship’ or ‘worship is everything you do’ and so in that way worship is this huge thing that encompasses all of life. Or in your church you might have heard the concept of a “worship service” in other words everything that happens in the church service that’s what worship is; so from the singing at the beginning to the announcements, the offering, the preaching, the cup of tea at the end — all of that is worship. Or you might have another concept in mind which is singing; that it’s that special church singing that’s worship. You have worship teams; music teams. Or you might think of worship as those special type of slow songs that you sing at church. And so all of those are ways that we use the word ‘worship’ — all the way from absolutely everything to something very specific. It can get a little confusing to try to figure out what worship is.
So let’s say then you want to do a Bible study on the word ‘worship’, that’s a good idea. So you take out your New American Standard Bible, great translation, and you look up every time the word ‘worship’ occurs in that Bible. You’ll find about 170 something verses and you study each of those. Or maybe you want to use the New Living Translation, also a very good translation. And you look up every time the word ‘worship’ occurs. Well, in the New Living Translation you find over 400 times the word occurs. That’s confusing.
So let’s say then you want to go to your original language Bible, you know, Hebrew and Greek and you want to look it up in there — find out every time that the words that we normally translate ‘worship’ are found there in the Hebrew in the Old Testament the Greek and the New Testament and you’ll find 231 verses. So what’s going on?
Well, it has nothing to do with the problem with the translations. They’re great translations. Those are fantastic. It does though have to do with the problem with the English word ‘worship’, because that word has such a wide range of meanings that it doesn’t neatly overlap with what the Bible talks about with worship. So I want to take you in a little bit of a journey to understand what ‘worship’ really is and see how it applies to your life.
To do that I want to introduce you to a Greek word. This is from the New Testament, it’s the word “proskuneo”. Say it with me; “proskuneo”. So you’re speaking Greek now. I want to tell you three things about this word that will help us to understand what worship is. “Proskuneo” is the word that is usually translated as our word ‘worship’.
First off it’s an action. “Proskuneo” is a verb, it’s an action. And when you look up the definition you’ll probably find something like this it means “to bow down” or it means “to kiss the hand” towards someone. Now what does that mean? “To kiss the hand towards” looks like this. Now what does that mean? See, what we have to realise is that when we’re dealing with a word like this we’re dealing with a vastly different time and a different culture. I’ll give you an example. The first time I went to India, which is a very different culture to where I grew up, I was getting a taxi and I said to the man, “Can you take us where we need to go?” and he did this action — he did this. And I was so confused. I didn’t know what it meant, so I asked him again, “Can you take us where we need to go?”. He did this. I didn’t understand, so a third time I said, “Could you take us please?” and he did this. And suddenly I realised “I’m in India!”, when you say ‘yes’ in India it’s like this, and when you go like this it means ‘sure, i’ll take you.’ The poor man was probably so confused of why I kept asking him the same question. Where I grew up if you do this it means ‘maybe’, but in that place in culture where I was the foreigner this meant ‘sure’.
You see body language means different things in different places at different times. So what does this mean in an ancient biblical context? It’s kind of funny to me. that means ‘oops’ or something like that but the kiss that’s talking about there is a kiss that represents two things: honour towards the person and also allegiance or commitment towards that person as well. So the first thing we need to know about this word “proskuneo”; it’s an action and that action means honour and allegiance.
Now I often have students try to think of an action in their culture that represents the same thing as this did in that ancient culture. Do you know what action we often come up with? It’s the salute. I mean think about it if you’re in certain branches of the military almost in the whole world the salute represents two things it represents honour but it also represents allegiance or commitment. When your commanding officer comes in and you salute them, what does it mean? “I respect you and i’m ready to obey you”. It’s exactly what this symbol meant in an ancient culture. First off this word “proskuneo” from the Greek New Testament the word that we often translate worship means honour and allegiance it’s an action.
Second thing about that word is — well let me ask you a question. Where do you have to be in order for that action to be effective? What do I mean? Well, think about a salute. If i’m saluting, I must be saluting someone. In other words, I have to be in the presence of that person. I have to be in front of them, they have to be there. I can’t salute a commanding officer if there’s no one there. It becomes a meaningless action otherwise, right? Well the same with this word “proskuneo”. In order for it to be something it has to be done in the presence of the person that you’re honouring and giving allegiance to.
Third thing Jesus says in John chapter 4, “the Father is seeking true ‘worshipers’.” That word ‘worshipers’ there is a form of the word “proskuneo”. The Father is seeking true worshipers, and if there are true worshipers there must be, well, false worshipers. In fact the opposite of true in that context would be fake or non-genuine. So the question is “What makes worshipers genuine?”. Well it’s that inside they mean the same as what their outsides are communicating. With that hand signal or the salute or the bowing down that action it’s meant to communicate honour and allegiance and for “proskuneo” to be genuine it means that our internal attitude needs to line up with that outward action.
Three things about that word:
One: It’s an action that represents honour and allegiance.
Two: it has to be done in the presence of that person.
And three: It must be done with the genuine attitude that actually is doing that honour and allegiance like the outside says.
I’ll give you some examples from the Bible of when this happened.
One is a story when Jesus walks on water and Peter comes to Him walking on the water as well. It says there in Matthew, that when Jesus got into the boat and the storm ceased, the disciples worshipped him. They “proskuneo”ed Him. What did they do? Well, it doesn’t tell us their bodily action. I guess it depends how big the boat was whether they bowed down, but in that moment they were responding to the presence of Jesus — not as their good buddy Jesus that they always knew, that they always walked with, but about something unusual about Him at that moment, because He’d done something remarkable.
In fact when you look up all 231 uses of this concept of ‘worship’ in the Bible, what you find is they always have these three elements if they’re genuine.
Number one they do some sort of action with their body,
Number two they’re always responding to the now presence of God. Either He’s come in some special way, He’s done a miracle, He’s answered a prayer, they are aware of Him in a very special way, and
Three it lines up with a genuine attitude of wanting to follow Him if it’s genuine.
So what is worship then? We find that worship is not in the Bible everything that you do. In fact, worship is something very specific and special and every time that word occurs in the Bible what it is is it’s a special moment to the now presence of God; a special moment with the now presence of God. And they make a response in that moment to God. It’s a special response to the now presence of God.
You know, when we talk about worship as a lifestyle — it’s a great concept. What we mean there is that everything that we do should honour God. Yes please, let’s do that! But that’s not what worship is in the Bible. In fact what we mean by worship as a lifestyle is the “fear of the Lord”. That’s what the Bible talks about with the fear of the Lord — everything I do should honour God. But when the Bible talks about worship, when you look in the original languages, it’s talking about a special moment, a special moment.
What do I mean by that? Well, perhaps in your family you have some special dishes. My parents had special china dishes that they got when they were married, and those special dishes, plates and bowls and such would come out at special occasions. We had our normal dishes and we had our special dishes. You know, life is split into these concepts of ordinary moments and special moments. And worship is one of those special moments. It’s a response to something that God has done now, and it’s a response of honour and allegiance. You know, there’s many types of special responses we could give to God, worship is one of them.
So, when you think about worship like that, worship is almost a reaction to something that God has done. So how can we ever worship? Well, let me introduce you to two other probably very familiar concepts that lead us into worship. We see those in Psalm 100:4. That Psalm says “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise”. It’s a verse that talks about coming into the temple or the tabernacle in those times, which was their place of meeting with God, and the way that they were meant to enter in was with thanksgiving and with praise. And those drew them near to God.
What is thanksgiving? Really it’s just saying things to God that you’re grateful for. It’s a testimony about what God has done. What about praise? It’s saying nice things about His character. They’re very closely related. To be a thankful person means you just have to say to God things that you are thankful for. To be a person that praises just means you talk to Him about His good character.
You know what is amazing though about thanksgiving and praise? It’s when we verbalise those things about God — it goes from being talking about God to perhaps talking directly to God. Maybe you’ve experienced this before — when you’re praising God about how good He is or about how merciful and kind He is, suddenly there’s an experience of those very things that you’re honouring him for. Praise has a special way of leading us to experience the presence of God, and in fact in that way praise, like it says in Psalm 100, leads us into His presence, and in His presence is where we worship.
Imagine it all like a journey. You’re walking in towards the throne of God and how do we enter in? Well with thanks with praise and as we thank God as we praise Him, what happens is we often become aware of His special presence in that moment, and our response to that special presence is often one of honour, commitment, allegiance — that’s what worship is.
So here’s my challenge to you. I want to challenge you to put thanksgiving and praise and worship into practice in your life in a new way. Here’s how you can do it — perhaps at the end of every day or the beginning just find one or two things that you can thank God for that have happened in that day. It doesn’t have to be big things. Sometimes I’m very thankful that all ten fingers of mine are working just fine — it’s an amazing gift. Or that my eyesight is still good and that I can see. You can always find many things to thank God for.
Second, I challenge you to find something every day that you can praise God about. The way that I’m talking about praise it’s for who He is. “Thank you, God, for your goodness. Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for your mercy.”
Do you know many of our songs that we sing at church are actually, if we think about them, thanksgiving songs and praise songs. They talk about what He’s done and who He is. And you know what? As you begin to put these things into practice what you will start to find is that you have special moments with God; worship moments with God, where you stop and you pause and you’re aware of His presence with you in that moment and you can respond with great honour with great allegiance. Sometimes you don’t even need words, it’s a response to Him. I hope that gives you something to think about. Thanks for listening to me today.
Wow, thank you Chris! Praise for who God is and daily gratitude for what He has done will create an increased awareness of God’s presence. I love that!
So, here are a few further questions to go deeper:
- – One, what was God highlighting to you specifically during Chris’s teaching?
- – Two, what are you usually focused on during times of worship? Have you ever thought about that?
- – Lastly, what are three things that you can be grateful for today? Why not write those down on your notes or put it on a sticky note on your mirror, and think of ways that you can give God praise for who He is?
Well, this completes our series on getting to know God. We hope you have enjoyed each episode and have gained some practical tips to grow your personal relationship with God.
Each of these speakers are involved in week-long lectures for our discipleship training courses. You can check our website to find out more information on training opportunities with YWAM Newcastle. We’re passionate about people being equipped to know God and to make him known.
Thank you so much for joining us and we look forward to next time!