Aren’t praise and worship the same?
As the Smith family drove home from church, 10-year-old Sarah asked, “Why does the bulletin call one section of the service Praise and Worship. Aren’t they the same thing?”
“Good question,” said Dad. “Let’s check that out over dinner.”
“Speaking of dinner,” said 14-year-old Justin, “I’m starved.”
“The pot roast should be done when we get home and the apple pie can bake while we eat,” said Mom.
“That sounds amazing,” said Justin.
They enjoyed their pot roast and salad, as the scent of apples and cinnamon filled the room. Justin sighed with satisfaction and said, “This meal is great, and dessert smells amazing!”
“It is great mom,” said Sarah, “but what about my question?”
“Right,” said Dad as he grabbed his dictionary and Bible.
Dad found the word praise in Webster’s dictionary and read, “‘to express a favorable judgment of or an expression of approval.”’
He found worship next and read, “extravagant respect or admiration for, or devotion to, an object of esteem.”
“Worship sounds more serious than praise,” said Sarah.
“It does,” said Justin, “the definition for praise used words like ‘favorable’ and ‘approval’ but the one for worship used words like ‘extravagant respect’ and ‘devotion.'”
“Good point,” said Dad as he paged through his Bible. “This reminds me of a verse I read recently. Yes, it’s in Isaiah 29:13: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.'”
“So, we’re not supposed to fake it by repeating words without thinking, but our hearts are to be focused on God,” said Justin.
“Well put,” said Mom. “If we aren’t focused with our worship, it’s like we are making light of what Jesus sacrificed when He came to die for our sins. When we do too much clock watching or daydreaming, our time in church is just lip service.”
“I suppose we’re not to repeat words we don’t mean,” said Sarah.
“Yes,” said Mom, “we might look like we are worshipping but God knows our hearts, just like He knew the hearts of the people in the Isaiah passage.”
“Here’s one of my favorite Bible commentaries.” said Dad. “It’s a collection of much wisdom from Matthew Henry, a well known pastor and author who lived and taught in England from 1662-1714. This is what he said about Isaiah 29:13. ‘To worship God, is to approach him. And if the heart be full of his love and fear, out of the abundance of it the mouth will speak; but there are many whose religion is lip-labor only. When they pretend to be speaking to God, they are thinking of a thousand foolish things. They worship the God of Israel according to their own devises…their religion is only to comply with custom…'”
“I know that my mind wanders during the church service,” said Mom “so I need to confess that and work harder to stay focused on sincere praise of what He has done and worship of who He is.”
“That’s true for me too,” said Dad. “It is something we all need to work on daily.”
“That’s going to be a challenge,” said Justin.
“I’m almost sorry I asked,” said Sarah. “This will take work!”
“Growing to become more like Christ does require effort,” said Dad. “Just as physical growth comes slowly through exercising our bodies and eating well, spiritual growth comes slowly through exercising our minds and feeding on His Word.”
“Thanks for asking that great question, Sarah,” said Mom. “This has been a good discussion but I best get that pie before it burns!”
May we all learn to “worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalm 100:2 NIV)