The following are notes from a study I did about Personal Worship. We were looking at the tree analogy of roots, trunk and branches (study, affections, and fruits). More specifically, I was looking at how within each of these are three aspects; personal, social (small/intimate group) and corporate (church). Many of my notes come from Directory for Worship with some additional notes from Experiencing God Through Private Worship
William Temple defined worship this way, “To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, and to devote the will to the purpose of God.” (Psalm 29:2, 1 Chronicles 16:29) The word worship comes from the old Anglo-Saxon word “worthship”. It literally means to attribute or ascribe worth to some one. It carries the idea of declaring the object of worship as being worthy of honor. The Greek word in the New Testament that is most often translated “worship” is the word “proskuneo.” This word means to “kiss the hand of one in a token of reverence, also by kneeling or prostration to pay homage.” The second most common word is “sebomai”, this word means “to revere”. Other words are used, but these are sufficient to teach us that the Bible sees worship as an act of honoring God because of His great worthiness to be honored.
Aspects of Worship 1. There is the Worship of Repentance – 2 Sam. 12:20. David lost his son as chastisement for his sin with Bathsheba. Instead of rebelling against the hand of the Lord in his life, David repented under the lash and worshiped the Lord. He wasn’t angry with God, but it would seem that his heart was repentant and his life changed. Perhaps this event was the catalyst that brought Psalms 51 and 32 into existence. This is a worship that is consistent with the omnipotent nature of God, 2 Sam. 12:23. This is a true example of genuine spiritual worship. 2. There is the Worship of Submission – Job 1:20. Job has just received word that his children, along with all his earthly possessions and wealth are gone. Instead of fighting against the Lord in rebellion, Job displays all the classic signs of mourning, but he also falls down before the Lord and worships him. He submits to God’s plan for his life even though he doesn’t like it or understand it. Yet, his is a worship that is conformed to the nature of God. Job knew Rom. 8:28 in his heart. This is spiritual worship at its highest plain. This kind of worship does not come from some fleshly ritual, but from a heart overflowing with love for the Lord. 3. There is the Worship of Devotion – Gen. 22:1-18, esp. v. 5. Abraham has been asked by God to take his beloved son Isaac to Mt. Moriah and offer him up as a sacrifice to the Lord. Abraham does not question God’s command, but willingly goes to do as the Lord has said. It is worthy to note that verse 5 shows Abraham as a man on the way to worship not, not a man who is about to slay his son. Abraham pictures for us the great truth that personal worship may be a costly thing, but that genuine devotion to the Lord overshadows that and produces a willingness in the worshiper to pay the price to participate in worship of such a great God.
What is Personal Worship? Personal worship is the discipline of giving attention to and accepting God’s grace. Scripture, prayer, sacrifice, reflection and service are all elements of personal worship. While Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are by their nature communal, preparing for and remembering these Sacraments are important in personal worship. Aspects of daily personal worship are to focus on God’s presence, hear God’s Word, and respond to God’s grace. Christian Prayer (Mathew 6:6, Ephesians 6:18) Prayer is at the heart of worship. In prayer, through the Holy Spirit, people seek after and are found by the one true God who has been revealed in Jesus Christ. They listen and wait upon God, call God by name, remember God’s gracious acts, and offer themselves to God. Prayer may be spoken, sung, offered in silence, or enacted. Prayer grows out of the center of the church’s life in response to the Spirit. Prayer is shaped by the Word of God in Scripture and by the life of the community of faith. Prayer results in commitment to join God’s work in the world. In prayer we respond to God in many ways. In adoration we praise God for who God is. In thanksgiving we express gratitude for what God has done. In confession we affirm God’s forgiveness, acknowledge that we are human and repent for what we as individuals and as a people have done or left undone. In supplication we plead for ourselves and the gathered community. In intercession we plead for others, on behalf of others, and for the whole world. In self-dedication we offer ourselves to the purpose and glory of God.
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6.6) And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6.18)
Centrality of Scripture (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:1-2, Colossians 3:16-17, James 1:25) The Church confesses the Scriptures to be the written witness to the Word of God, witnessing to God’s self-revelation. Where that Word is read and proclaimed, Jesus Christ the Living Word is present by the inward witness of the Holy Spirit. For this reason the reading, hearing, preaching, and confessing of the Word are central to Christian worship.
Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1.8) How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. (Psalms 1:1-2) Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:16-17) But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:25)
Self-Offering (Hebrews 13:15-16, James 1:27, Psalm 139.23–24) In worship we are presented with the costly self-offering of Jesus Christ. We are claimed and set free by him, and are led to respond by offering Him our lives, our particular gifts and abilities, and our material goods.
Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:15-16) Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep one’s self unstained by the world. (James 1:27) Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139.23–24)
How to Worship
First, he danced before the Lord with passionate zeal, 2 Sam. 6:14-16, then he sat before the Lord in humbled amazement, (2 Sam. 7:18)
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; (Ephesians 5:18-20) What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. (1 Corinthians 14:15) the woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:19-24) Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
Why we Worship “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)
We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.” (John 9:31) Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:1-2) Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. (Colossians 3:23-24) Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31) All who see me sneer at me; they separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, “Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.” Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon my mother’s breasts. (Psalm 22:7-9) but about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; (Acts 16:25) And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. (Luke 1:46-53)
And if we don’t…
Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king.” (1 Samuel 15:22-23 (14-24)) The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalms 1:3-4) For you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the rock of your refuge. Therefore you plant delightful plants and set them with vine slips of a strange god. In the day that you plant it you carefully fence it in, and in the morning you bring your seed to blossom; But the harvest will be a heap in a day of sickliness and incurable pain. (Isaiah 17:10-11) Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day– things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. (Colossians 2:16-19) Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light” But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matthew 6:19-23)
Either/Or Balance of corporate worship and solitary worship: “Whoever cannot be alone should beware of being in community. Whoever cannot stand being in community should beware of being alone.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together). “[Corporate] and personal worship, though in practice one commonly tends to take precedence of the other, should complete, reinforce, and check each other. Only where this happens, indeed, do we find in its perfection the normal and balanced life of full Christian devotion.” ~ Evelyn Underhill, quoted in James F. White, “What Do We Mean by ‘Christian Worship’?” ibid, 7. Spurgeon said this about the matter of a private devotional time, “Why is it that some are often in the place of worship and yet they are not holy? It is because they neglect their closets. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn but they will not go forth into the field to gather it; the fruit hangs on the tree but they will not pluck it; and the water flows at their feet but they’ll not stoop to drink it.”
Holy Array These next few verses deal with Holy Attire… Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come before Him; Worship the LORD in holy array. (1 Chronicles 16:29) Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in holy array. (Psalm 29:2) Your adornment must not be merely external–braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. Worship the LORD in holy array. (1 Peter 3:2-4) Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours (Psalm 110:3) Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. (1Timothy 2:9-10)