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Questions & Answers | Healing Love

What is the difference between worship and praise? Can you point me to Scriptures that explain the difference?


The words praise and worship are often used casually and almost indistinguishably together, but they are different. Praise is an expression of affirmation or admiration. We can praise people and God. We praise God for what He has done for us. The Bible teaches us how to praise God: with song (Ps. 69:30) and by telling of His mighty acts (Ps. 145:4). Psalm 148 describes generations and creation praising Him.

Worship, on the other hand, is an expression of adoration and reverence reserved only for God. Exodus 34:14 says, “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” Scripture tells us to worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23–24). While scholars disagree about what it means to worship in “spirit,” two interpretations inform what we do. One is that we worship spiritedly, with conviction, not mechanically or with detachment. Another interpretation is that worship must be informed and led by the Holy Spirit who teaches us the full beauty and majesty of God. However, people often mistake energy and enthusiasm for real worship. True worship is doctrinally grounded on scriptural revelation. I would add that the language we use in worship should be thoughtful and meaningful.

In summary, worship that doesn’t engage our emotions and affections is empty, while worship that only engages our emotions and affections is incomplete, not worship at all. We must not be like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day who honored God “with their lips,” while their hearts were far from Him (Matt. 15:7–9).

In John 15:10 Jesus says, "If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love." What command is Jesus referring to?


In answering this question, it’s important to look at the broader context of the verses. In verses 1 to 8, we see Jesus’ vivid picture of the vine and the branches. He is “the true vine” (v. 1), and we are the branches who draw our strength from our attachment to Him and produce fruit from that attachment. Then, verses 9 to 11 talk about the connection between love and obedience.

The keyword in John 15:1–11 is “abide” (in many translations “remain”), used a number of times. What that means is that we should stay close to Christ, “remain” in His love, just as He has remained in the Father’s love and obeyed His commandments. The greatest glory of the Christian life is that by our life and conduct we bring glory to God. Obedience to Christ’s teachings shows that we are His children, the means by which we transmit His love to the world and the way we glorify God (vv. 7–8). Remaining in His love is shown by keeping His commandments, the greatest of which is to love one another (v. 12).

Is it okay to pray for the destruction or punishment of someone who has done something hurtful to myself or a loved one? I've heard people pray those kinds of prayers.


If we were all to tell the truth, most of us have, at the very least, muttered something under our breath wishing punishment on people who have hurt us or others. Those feelings can come from a good place, a hatred for evil or a sense of wanting things to be righted. Sometimes we are angry over the desecration of God’s name and ways.

When we read the psalms, we see the Psalmist calling down curses on unrighteousness. “May those who seek my life be disgraced and put to shame,” he writes (Ps. 35:4). And again, “Pour out your wrath on them; let your fierce anger overtake them (Ps. 69:24). Even more vivid: “May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes” (Ps. 109:9–10). As I noted in a recent column, these psalms, called the imprecatory psalms, while not a model for how we are to think and pray, are an example of moral indignation. And moral indignation is better than amorality that is indifferent to hateful behavior.

Nevertheless, Romans 12:19 is plain when it reminds us that we should not take matters into our own hands. “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” As Christians, we are uncompromisingly called upon to forgive others. Forgiving others is one of the hardest things we ever do. I have wrestled with forgiveness myself until I was tired in spirit and soul. Forgiveness demands profound trust in the Lord who sees and whose justice is far more complete than any course of action we long for.

BY Dr. Rosalie de Rosset

Dr. Rosalie de Rosset has been teaching at Moody Bible Institute in the Communications Department for over five decades. She is occasionally featured on Moody Radio. Rosalie is a published author, respected speaker, and talented writer. She lives on the northside of Chicago, a city she enjoys for its natural beauty and multi-faceted art offerings.

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