What does ‘worship’ mean to men?

The ‘When Men Worship’ arm of the worship ministry At the Master’s Feet (ATMF) was recently established as an outreach to men, just like ATMF’s outreach to women (Alabaster Box). Having the women’s outreach for 3 years without a men’s outreach was to give the impression that only women worship God and only women encounter hindrances to worship.

Men worship God and several are keen to learn more in order for them to grow in the act of worship of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. So, with the advent of ‘When Men Worship’, focus will be given to issues around men and worship and we will do this through our annual gathering and through blog posts and discussions on our Facebook group page.

I believe the critical starting point is to discuss what worship is and then in my next post, we will discuss why we must worship. Without an understanding and acceptance of these, we will lack the foundation to build on when we deliberate on all other issues around men and worship.

What is worship?
Many men have assumed worship to be that segment of our fellowship meetings (church services, home cell, etc) or private devotion where we sing slow songs, go down on our knees and lift up our hands. We also consider worship to be lying prostrate on the floor and in some cultures roll from one end to another.
These are acts or forms of worship but they of themselves don’t define worship. By the way, I will discuss the acts of worship in my coming post. So what then is worship?

From the numerous dictionary definitions available, I believe the best one is “Worship is the honor with extravagant love and extreme submission” (Webster’s Dictionary, 1828). This definition first establishes worship to be extravagant love and then extreme submission and that means, we must first love and then submit.

This thought is better explained by Delesslyn A. Kennebrew who in his article titled ‘What is Worship?’ said, “… worship is the priority we place on who God is in our lives and where God is on our list of priorities.” As a worshipper, God is our first love and as a result, we make serving Him our main goal.

From the definition we learn that worship is about our vertical relationship with God (our extravagant love for Him) and our horizontal relationship with our fellow mankind (our extreme submission to His purpose). The vertical relationship must manifest in the horizontal relationship for worship to be authentic and true. This is why Jesus said in Mark 12: 29-31:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” This is worship in a nutshell.

To further define worship, we will differentiate it from expressions we confuse it with:

Worship is not Praise: Though the acts are similar (singing, dancing, shouting, musical instruments, etc) they deliver different messages to God. Praise focuses on WHAT God is to us based on His deeds – He is gracious, merciful, good, kind, redeemer, healer, deliverer.  Worship focuses on WHO God is based on His Glory.
Psalm 18:3 says, “I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised and I am saved from my enemies. Psalm 95:6 “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!”

Worship is not Thanksgiving: The focus of thanksgiving is on showing gratitude to God for what He has done for us. It is recounting to God the blessings we have received and the prayers He has answered.
We worship God irrespective of our circumstance but we give thanks because of our circumstance.
Religious folks and unbelievers can give thanks but only believers and true followers of Christ can worship.

Worship is not Prayer: By prayer we are referring the petitioning and intercession because thanksgiving, praise and worship can be part of a prayer session.
Prayer is essentially seeking God’s hand in supplication or request while worship is seeking God’s face in adoration. Prayer can be selfish (seeking our needs or that of others to be met) but worship is not because it is about meeting God’s need.
So, in prayers, we focus on scriptural promises for OUR petition and declare what we desire. In worship, we focus solely on God and HIS needs.

Psalm 100:4 tells us to, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise His name.” This means that true worship flows from a heart that expresses gratitude and praise to God.
With an extravagant love for God and an extreme submission to His will, we will desire more than the gates and the courts of His temple. Worship is accessing the Holy of Holies to meet face to face with Him who sits on the throne, be enveloped by His glory and be intimate with our God.

by Bobby Udoh