When we think of worshiping God, we often default to thoughts of music played at a church service or on the Christian radio station, singing, raising hands, and praising God with our voices. While these are all good things and expressions of worship, they are not all there is to true worship. John 4:24 instructs us to worship in "spirit and in truth," which means that worship is more than an outward display—true worship involves our souls and minds.
Paul gives a perfect definition of true worship in Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
This passage gives us all the pieces to true worship: why we worship, how we worship, and whom we worship.
Why should we worship God in the first place? Because we have to? Because it's tradition? Because someone said to? The Bible tells us that true worship is motived by a love for God (Hebrews 12:28-29).
Because of God’s love, we have a physical life and experience good things (James 1:17). Because of God's mercy, we are offered eternal life and redemption through Christ (John 3:16-17). Because of God's grace, we are given forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit, and the promise of an eternal home in Paradise (Acts 2:38; John 5:24).
When we consider all that God has done for us through His mercy, grace, and love, our hearts ought to respond with a return of love. When we love God with our whole hearts, then our motivation to worship Him will come from a holy and healthy place of adoration—not obligation.
The Bible tells us that true worship of God requires believers to surrender their whole selves to Him—mind, body, spirit. This is what Paul means when he says: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1a). True worship involves giving God our thoughts, our physicality, and our very souls. When we surrender control of these things to God, we can come closer to renewal of the mind.
Renewing our minds is a critical step to true worship. How do we do this? Become familiar with God’s Word, talk to Him regularly, and remind yourself of God's truths throughout the day. This is a conscious practice that will help us transform our earthly perspective into a godly perspective.
Worship doesn't only have to involve music, singing, or dancing. True worship comes from within and can be expressed in so many different ways. We can worship God alone or together, such as in church. Whenever we acknowledge the truth of God's mercy, love, power, grace, and any of His works or attributes, we worship Him. The act of training our minds, keeping our bodies healthy and safe, serving Him and others with our actions, and loving God wholeheartedly in spirit are all aspects of true worship.
This might be a no-brainer, but the Bible tells us that true worship must center on God. No matter how we're expressing our worship, we must allow it to be focused on the one who deserves our worship: our Heavenly Father, the Creator of the Universe. No person, living or dead, is deserving of our worship—only God (Revelation 19:10). All things come from Him, and therefore, all worship is due to Him (Psalm 105).
The actions of worship we've mentioned here are all good and pleasing to God when our focus is Him. However, if we're going through the motions out of obligation, for appearances, for personal praise, or for other selfish reasons, then our worship is not true. God recognizes false worship and despises hypocrisy (Amos 5:21-24).
True worship is surrendering to God completely and trusting Him with every part of us. Learning to live as Jesus Christ did—with devotion to God, love, mercy, and understanding for others—and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us in obedience to Him are ways to live a life that truly worships God. When we can delight in worshiping God because of our love for Him, we can truly express holy worship.
True worship can be measured by why we worship, how we worship, and whom we worship (Romans 12:1-2). John 4:24 tells us to worship God in spirit and in truth. True worship comes from within and can be expressed in so many different ways—alone or together, such as in church. Whenever we acknowledge the truth of God's mercy, love, power, grace, and any of His works or attributes, we worship Him. The acts of training our minds, keeping our bodies healthy and safe, serving Him and others with our actions, and loving God wholeheartedly in spirit are all aspects of true worship.
Vivian loves learning, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She is dedicated to helping people learn more about Jesus and is ready to help in any way she can. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, cooking, drawing, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, you can find her soaking up the sunshine or going on an adventure.
Cat is the web producer and editor of 412teens.org. She loves audiobooks, feeding the people she cares about, and using Christmas lights to illuminate a room. When Catiana is not writing, cooking, or drawing, she enjoys spending time with her two teenage kids, five socially-awkward cats, and her amazing friend-amily.