How can we worship in a way that God approves? What does God-pleasing worship look like?
Trying to define or prescribe one appropriate worship practice can be like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall. However, it may be helpful to begin with a definition of worship. Worship means to ascribe worth to God delightfully. There are three spheres of worship: individual (or private), familial, and corporate.
For us as individuals, ascribing worth to God consists of living our whole lives before God in a way that pleases Him. Paul urges believers to “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Rom. 12:1). Our body, every part of us, should be set apart for God, doing what brings Him pleasure.
Paul follows: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). Our mind is to be used for doing what is “perfect” before God. Thinking, pondering, and meditating, as well as motivations, intentions, and goals all largely cognitive acts—should seek to do what is acceptable in the sight of God. This perfection can be compared to the unblemished offerings an ancient Israelite would have brought before the Lord in sacrifice. Giving our whole being to God is the most important aspect of individual worship.
Individual worship includes private times of meditation on the Word of God and prayer, as well as honoring the Lord with our work, the way we use our money, the payment of taxes, the loving treatment of our brothers and sisters, and supporting the work of the gospel.
Family worship involves raising children in the Christian faith by setting aside times to review the faith that had been passed to us, reading Scripture together, singing together, and praying together as a family.
Corporate worship (what we do as a church) has nothing to do with the style of music. Neither is true worship concerned with the perceived reverence of a corporate gathering, based on one’s level of comfort, whether with reserved actions or passionate expressions. Historically, the church has recognized five practices that promote the honor and worth of God: praying, singing, reading Scripture, preaching, and administering the ordinances. If you faithfully participate in these practices, and your church centers them around the death and resurrection of Christ, you are honoring the Lord through worship.