“First we had worship, then a prayer, offering, a sermon, then some more worship.”
Every heard someone describe a worship service this way? Maybe that someone was you?
Certainly we worship through music. Absolutely no debates there. But remember, worship can be anything that shows worth and devotion. So, let’s make sure that our definition of worship is broad enough to include prayers, offerings, baptisms, communion, and the sermon.
Prayer is Worship
Maybe this one goes without saying? But, let’s make sure we’re on the same page. Prayer is not a mere kickoff for songs or sermon. Prayer is not a time for the congregation to get settled in and quiet. Prayer is an act of worship. Prayer is our way of communicating to our Father, and communication shows worth. Think about it. When we are angry at someone, one of the first things we may do is give them the silent treatment. Or if we really enjoy being around someone we give them our attention.
Notice that even in the Psalms some of the titles are referred to as prayers. This is the case in Psalm 17, and in the first two verses David admits that God hears his prayers.
A PRAYER OF DAVID. Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit! From your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right! (Psalm 17:1-2)
Offering is Worship
Offering as worship? Of all the elements in a worship service, the offering quite possibly the easiest to dismiss as simple administration–the business of the church. Keep the lights on, keep the staff paid, give money to the missionaries . . . .
But offerings should be part of our worship. When we give our money to the to the Lord, that act is a declaration of war and of worship. Of war because we are warring against our selfish nature that wants to be indulged, that screams and kicks and fights against our natural demands to be at the center of our spending. Of worship because we are declaring that God is greater, that He is worthy, that we can trust him to meet every need. WE announce that we can keep our life free from love of money, and be content with what we have, for God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5). When we give generously, we show Christ as our treasure of greatest worth.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! (Psalm 96:7)
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD. (Psalm 116:18)
And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need (Acts 2:45)
Baptism & Communion as Worship
Baptism and Communion can often be dismissed as a liturgical tradition, and therefore never actual realized as meaningful worship. Yet both are really the only two elements that Jesus has commanded us to do. Baptisms are most certainly worshipful for those who are being submersed to declare their faith publicly, but it can also be worshipful for those who are witnessing it. It is worshipful because we are able to give thanks to God and celebrate His transforming power through the gospel. We acknowledge that Jesus saves sinners and that He is making all things new—starting now!
Communion is worshipful in many ways, one of which is by remembering the Lord. The Lord’s table allows us to fix our minds upon Jesus’ work on the cross and what that means for us. Much like the child who cannot wait to open his Christmas gift, when we fixate our thoughts on something we show that it has worth and meaning to us. When we fix our thoughts on Christ gift to us, we show that His death, resurrection, ascension, and return are something that matters to us. Moreover, the Lord’s table is also a way for us to declare the gospel to a watching world!
And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me”. “In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:26).
Sermon as Worship
The sermon as worship? Many people, like the quote states, believe that the sermon is something separate from when God’s people receive His Word. But that’s not the way the scriptures, particularly Psalm 119, describes God’s revelation. Here’s just a sample.
Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word. Psalm 119:12-16
This week when you encounter these elements, give special attention to them as worship. Focus on how you can give Jesus worth through them.
Then, maybe we can change our language about worship?
“At church today we sang, presented our offerings, celebrated a baptism, feasted on God’s Word, and reflected during communion. It’s was all worship!”
Chris Adkins, worshiper and worship leader