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60 Definitions of Worship

At Christmas, those Mysterious Magi remind us about worship. But the truth is, everyone worships.

Whether it's the guy polishing the chrome of his restored '67 Malibu or the little girl adoring her Barbie collection, we humans are worshipers by our very nature. You'll always find us exalting, admiring, and delighting in something.

I understand from Scripture that God wove this desire directly into our DNA (Is. 43:7) because we were created to worship ultimately and only Him.

Anything less is - well, less.

But exactly, what is this stuff called "worship?" Is it singing love songs to God? Is it intimate prayer and communion with Him? Is it acts of service and obedience to Him? Is it encountering Him through His Word?


Since the Bible is remarkably broad in addressing this matter, I'll let others field the "worship definition" question. After sixty brilliant Christian leaders address the Ultimate Subject, I'll humbly close this piece with my own thoughts. I've been carrying these quotes along with me for years, and though I've read most of the authors listed, I'd be hard pressed to tell you the exact source of their statement. If I've misquoted anyone, let me know and I'll make it right.

1. A.W. Tozer: Worship is to feel in your heart and express in some appropriate manner a humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe and astonished wonder and overpowering love in the presence of that most ancient mystery, that majesty which philosophers call the First Cause, but which we call our Father which art in heaven.

2. J. Oswald Sanders: Worship is the loving ascription of praise to God for what he is in himself and in his providential dealings. It is the bowing of our innermost spirit before him in deepest humility and reverence. Worship is the adoring contemplation of God as he has been pleased to reveal himself in his

son and in the Scriptures.

3. Donald Hustad: Worship is a full confrontation with the self-revealed God of the Scriptures with ample opportunity to respond. Worship is any and every worthy response to God.

4. Graham Kendrick: Worship is God's enjoyment of us and our enjoyment of him. Worship is a response to the father/child relationship.

5. Jack Hayford: Worship is the pathway and the atmosphere for people to discover their royal calling in Christ, their high destiny in life, their fullest personal worth and their deepest human fulfillment. Worship is a means by which God's presence can be realized consistently. Worship is an opportunity for man to invite God's power and presence to move among those worshipping him.

6. Warren Wiersbe: Worship is the believers response of all that he is mind, emotion, will and body to all that God is and says and does. This response has a mystical side in subjective experience, and it's practical side in objective obedience to God's revealed truth. It is a loving response that is balanced by the fear of the Lord, and it is a deepening response as the believer comes to know God better.

7. Judson Cornwall: Worship is an attitude of heart, a reaching towards God, a pouring out of our total self in thanksgiving, praise, adoration and love to the God who created us and to whom we owe everything we have and are. Worship is the interaction of man's spirit with God in a loving response.

8. William Temple: 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, to devote the will to the purpose of god. All this is gathered up in that emotion which most cleanses us from selfishness because it is the most selfless of all emotions: adoration.

9. John MacArthur: Worship is giving honor and respect to God.

10. Dr. Robert Webber: Worship is a personal meeting with God in which we honor, magnify and glorify him for his person and actions.

11. J.N. Darby: Worship is the honour and adoration which are rendered to God by reason of what he is in himself, and what he is for those who render it.

12. Franklin Segler: Christian worship is man's loving response in personal faith to God's personal revelation of himself in Jesus Christ. Worship is man's communion with God in Christ, this conscious relationship being effected by the Holy Spirit in the spirit of the worshipper.

13. Bob Mumford: Worship is a personal encounter.

14. Don Nori: Worship is our joyous response to God's manifest presence. The goal is ruling and reigning with him, allowing Jesus the Lord to manifest himself in our flesh in this life.

15. Rob Frost: Worship is the opportunity for busy people to touch the eternal, for sinners to glimpse the holy, for broken people to be enfolded in his perfect love. Worship is moving beyond our self-centered lives to meet the one who created us for something better.

16. Anon: True worship is that exercise of the human spirit that confronts us with the mystery and marvel of God in whose presence the most appropriate and salutary response is adoring love.

17. Erik Routley: Worship is routine punctuated by festivity. Worship is an occasion when the heart is liberated to love and the mind to think.

18. Thomas Emswiler: Worship is the celebration and affirmation of God's love in the world.

19. Ronald Allen: Worship is an active response to God whereby we declare his worth. To worship God is to ascribe to him supreme worth for he alone is worthy.