Praise & Worship—What’s the Difference? Why are they Important?
The Bible tells us to offer our bodies to God as “living sacrifices” and adds that “this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1). ‘Worship’ means to “reverently honor or adore.” We can worship God in two ways:
- Through our actions
- Through our communion.
Actions have to do with practice. When we sincerely practice the truths of God’s Word we are also honoring the LORD, which is worship. It’s the same thing when we start lining up our lives with His assignment, big or small; we’re worshipping him. Either way, our obedient actions give glory to God (1 John 5:3).
Communion, however, has to do with communication. Prayer is communion with God and we specifically honor Him through the type of prayer known as praise & worship.
What exactly are praise & worship? The two go hand and hand. Praise is celebration and includes thanksgiving, raving and boasting; whereas worship is adoration. Praise naturally attracts God’s presence and is in accordance with the law of respect: What you respect moves toward you while what you don’t respect moves away from you. Worship, on the other hand, is adoration or awe, and is the response to being in His presence. See Psalm 95:1-7 and Psalm 100 for verification.
You’ll see this principle at work in relationships all the time. Take, for instance, romantic relations. Say if a woman is interested in a man and she praises his work, how will this make him feel? He’ll feel important and respected. He’ll feel like the “king of the world” and will naturally be more inclined to the woman, even if she’s someone he might not have noticed otherwise. It’s the same principle with God. When you start praising Him and boasting of Him He’ll naturally be more inclined toward you. It’s a simple principle.
Distinguishing Praise & Worship
So praise is celebration and worship is adoration. They can be further differentiated like so:
- Praise celebrates God whereas worship humbly reveres Him.
- Praise lifts God up while worship bows when He is lifted.
- Praise dances before God whereas worship pulls off His shoes.
- Praise extols God for what He’s done while worship adores Him for who He is.
- Praise says “Praise the Lord” whereas worship demonstrates that He is Lord.
- Praise is thanksgiving for being a co-heir in Christ while worship lays the crown at His feet.
Many believers are more comfortable with worshipping God through what they do rather than through communion, but I encourage you to excel in both. I run across a lot of wives who complain that their husbands rarely tell them that they love them, if ever. They hardly even compliment them. When confronted, the husband typically argues that he loves his wife by doing things for her, including working hard to bring home the bread. This is wonderful, of course, but the wife still wants to hear him communicate love to her. Do you think it’s any different with God?
Are Praise & Worship Unmanly?
Some men tend to veer away from praise & worship because they think it’s somehow girly. But, let me tell you something, David is one of the most passionate praise & worship warriors recorded in the Bible and he was wholly masculine. As a teenager he had the great faith and boldness to challenge the hulking Goliath with a slingshot when the entire army of Israel was shrinking back in terror (1 Samuel 17:24)! He went on to become one of the greatest kings of Israel, but God wouldn’t allow him to build the temple because he was a warrior king and had too much blood on his hands! (See 1 Chronicles 28:3). Does this sound like a girly man?
Or consider Moses’ aide, Joshua. After Moses spoke with God in the Tent of Meeting, Joshua would stay and linger in God’s presence (Exodus 33:11). Guess who God later chose to lead the Israelites in the conquest of Canaan? Joshua. There’s clearly a link between those who choose to be mighty praise & worship warriors for God and those who are mighty warriors in his service.
Those who are “ever praising” the LORD and who dwell in His presence “go from strength to strength” (Psalm 84:4-7). They are “transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18). In light of all this, anyone who claims that praise & worship is worthless or sissified is grossly ignorant.
Needless to say, every believer is called to deeper praise & worship. It will literally revolutionize your life, as it has mine and continues to do so.
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For details on the four stages of spiritual growth see this article.
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