The Lost Act of Worship

A picture of hands raised in worship

Many books have been written about worship. But all of the books that I have read describe today's worship and not the lost act of worship in the Bible.

Today's worship is praise to God: saying or singing good things about God. Some explain it as worth-ship, giving worth to God.

The word, worship, is also used to name the main church service on Sunday morning (the Worship Service) and to describe what goes on during that service.

But worship in the Bible is none of these.

Sadly, very few pastors even know about the lost act of worship.

Yet the true Bible meaning is not hard to find. Just open a Bible dictionary or look at an online study Bible.

You Must Bow to Worship

The Hebrew and Greek words for worship mean to bow. In fact the Hebrew word is often translated "bow down" in English Bibles.

Worship is something a person does when he comes before a king. He bows. God is much greater than a king. We should bow before Him.

Bowing is foreign to most Americans because bowing is not a part of American culture. Americans bow to no one. So when American churches worship, they stand up on their feet, turn their heads towards heaven, lift up their hands to God, and tell Him how great He is.

They should be turning their heads the other way, towards the ground, and bowing before the Almighty. They should be saying, "We are nothing, Lord. You are great. We are your servants. We will do whatever you want."

Bowing shows respect, reverence, submission, and deference to a greater being.

Bowing also shows surrender. The people of Egypt bowed before Moses, when they finally gave in and let the Israelites go (Exodus 11:8). They were showing him that they were surrendering to him.

Modern-day worship does not require surrender. It allows the worshipper to stand with his head held high. This is not Biblical worship.

Worshipping Jesus

When the wise men followed the star to Jerusalem, they did so to worship, to bow down to the new king of the Jews (Matthew 2:1-11). When they arrived, they didn't get their musical instruments out and sing worship songs to Him. They bowed.

During Jesus' ministry many worshipped Him when they approached Him (Matthew 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; 28:9,17; Mark 5:6). This does not mean that they told Jesus how great and wonderful He was. No, it means that they bowed before Him.

Since Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the promised king from God, it was only appropriate that they bow before Him.

Forbidden Worship

Bowing before other people occurs frequently in the Bible and is allowed. But bowing before or serving other gods and idols is forbidden (Exodus 20:5; 23:24; 34:14; Matthew 4:10; Luke 4:8). There is only one God. We should bow before Him.

Few people worship real idols in America, but most enthusiastically follow the unnamed idols of television, entertainment, politics, sports, self, money, and many more. America is a nation full of unnamed idols. This does not bother most Christians, but it is a serious offense to God. People spend hours watching television and then don't have any time for the one who created them, provides for them, and loves them. They might as well spit in God's face, bow down to the television, and give it an idol's name.

Where to Worship

In Bible times some people bowed to God in whatever place they were (Genesis 24:48,52), others travelled to the place where God was and bowed before Him there. Abraham traveled to the mountain of God to worship (bow down to) God and sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:5). At least three times a year the Jews traveled to the temple in Jerusalem (because that is where God had promised to be) and bowed before God there (John 12:20; Acts 24:11).

God is not located in a physical location on the earth anymore (John 4:21). The temple at Jerusalem has been destroyed. This does not mean that God cannot be worshipped. Due to the magic of the spiritual realm we can worship God in every place.

How to Worship

Worship can range from bowing the head while standing or seated (Genesis 23:7; 24:26, 48; Exodus 4:31) to bowing all the way down to the ground and placing one's face on the ground (Genesis 18:2; 19:1; 24:52).

A person's physical position is not as important as his spiritual position. Jesus taught about this in John 4:23-24. "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will bow down to the Father in spirit and in truth. You see, the Father looks for such to bow down to Him. God is a Spirit. They that bow down to Him must bow down to Him in spirit and in truth."

The important thing is bowing in spirit and in truth. Most Christians bow when they pray but it usually does not mean anything because they do not bow in their spirit. In truth they are not bowing before God. They do not humble themselves. They do not think about the greatness of God. They do not submit themselves to Him. Their bowing is a lie. It is not "in truth". It does not come from the inside, from the spirit. It is not "in spirit".

Worship is the act of bowing to God, not just on the outside but also on the inside. We picture ourselves bowing before the throne of God or at the feet of Jesus. We respect and reverence Him. We tell Him that we are nothing, that we are His servants, that we want to obey and serve Him. We surrender to Him.

I find that I must do this often. My pride keeps standing up and insists on running things. I must fall down on my knees before God. I must worship Him. "He must increase but I must decrease" (John 3:30 KJV).

God is looking for such people to bow before Him.

The modern day act of worship has hid the true act of worship: bowing in humility before the Ruler of the Universe. Every Christian should be practicing the lost act of worship. Set aside time every day to do it.