The Biblical Picture of Worship: How Do We Meaningfully Worship God?

By Brent Lanigan 

Sometimes it feels as if the word worship has become too common in our Christian lexicon. It gets used to describe our praise singing (“We are now going to worship”), our tithing (“Let’s give as an act of worship”), and a style of music (“My favourite music is worship music”). But what really is worship as seen in Scripture? Thankfully, the Bible paints a very clear picture. Join me in exploring the essence of biblical worship over these 5 devotionals.

Part 2: How Do We Meaningfully Worship God?

Psalm 100: 1-2, 4-5. Shout for joy to the Lord all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. We are his people. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Fascinating Fact: In his book The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey recounts a story about a “Messiah sighting” in the Jewish section of Brooklyn in 1993. For some reason, many Hasidic Jews living there thought that the Messiah was dwelling among them in the person of a 91 yr old mute rabbi named Menachem Schneerson. As the men crowded into the synagogue, they began shouting over and over, “Long live our master, our teacher, and our King, Messiah, forever and forever!” All the little rabbi could do was smile and wave and then he disappeared behind a curtain and everyone went home. It is a story both funny and sad in its example of misguided worship.

Scripture Study: In Part 1, we unpacked what biblical worship is in its simples form and the reason for why we should worship God: because he is holy and deserves our praise for his perfection. Today’s study naturally follows out of that and asks: how then can we meaningfully worship God? 

Psalm 100 gives a great framework for this question. In it, the psalmist sets a pretty clear directive for how to make our worship of God meaningful: we must worship God “with gladness”. What does it mean to worship God with gladness? It means to engage in worship of God with hearts shaped by joy (‘joyful songs and shouts‘), with praise (‘enter his…courts with praise’), and with thanksgiving (‘enter his gates with thanksgiving’). Why? Because of God’s goodness, love and faithfulness to use (‘for the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues‘). 

So then, the approach to meaningfully worship God is built on having a heart of worshipful gladness shaped by joy, praise and thanksgiving for all God has done for us. To do less is to shortchange God of the worship that he deserves.

Questions to Discuss

1.  After reflecting on the verses above, what does it mean for you to worship God with gladness?

2.  In other words, what makes your worship of God meaningful? Is it shaped by other characteristics than joy, praise and thanksgiving?

3.  Why is it vital for believers to worship God with gladness?


Thank you God for your goodness, love and faithfulness to us. We praise you with glad hearts because of who you are and for what you have done for us in caring for us as your special children. Amen.