Worship Foundations

By Debbi Shotlow
Worship Leader
September 28, 2023

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By Debbi Barnett and John White

As worshipers, we want to know all we can about worship; not only how to worship but what worship is all about. The problem is that beside a few scriptures indicating some of the physical reactions to a worshiper's motivation like singing, dancing, raising your hands, jumping for joy and clapping your hands, the Bible does not give an explicit list of what worship is or how a non-worshiper can become worshiper. We believe that this is intentional. If God gave 7 steps to worship, you could bet that worshipers would do nothing more or less - worship would become mechanical obedience. So God said little more than, “Worship me and none other.” Most of us are not burdened with understanding the command to worship God but we do suffer an ignorance of how to worship God in ways that adequately expresses our love, thanksgiving and adoration. We know that the most important thing is not proper theology (although it is important), a good voice, or the right kind of songs; a heart filled with love for God is the key that unlocks worship in all its forms. Fortunately, the Bible is complete with many expressions of worship that can serve as a guide to unlocking our own creativity.

Below you will find a Greek and Hebrew etymology on worship. If this is the first time you’ve studied the words of worship, you will be surprised at the number of words and the breath of their description of worship. If you have studied the words before, we recommend that you read through the list again and these words of worship fan to flames the creative gift of passion and commitment in you. These words, coupled with your heart’s devotion to God and worshiping Him, will expose unplowed depths of expression.

We are convinced that studying these words of worship will not only lay a Biblical foundation of worship, but it will release a new power for a deeper and more intimate worship. We encourage you to read interactively. By that we mean read the words and reflect on how you might worship in the way the words describe. Imagine yourself worshipping and dancing with David, consecrating the temple with Saul, being with Isaiah and John when they saw themselves with the throng of heaven hearing the angles cry “Holy, Holy, Holy…” Imagine yourself seeing the elders laying down their crowns saying, “Worthy is the Lamb…” Imagine that you just crossed the red sea and you’re with Israel when they sing “The horse and rider He has thrown into the sea.” What would it be like to hear Mary extol the Lord ending with “From generation to generation God’s favor is on those whom He loves.” Imagine the walls of Jericho falling with the shout of praise. In other words, the bible is not written to entertain us or to simply gain spiritual knowledge. No, each word tells a story, a story about worshipers and how they communicated worship to the God they loved. And the “how” is more revealing to worship than the “what”. Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord!

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