I have worshiped in a variety of settings, from dirt floors in India and the Philippines to Africa and other parts of Asia to the great cathedrals of Europe. I've discovered that it matters much less how one worships and more that one worships—with true, authentic worship from the heart.
But I've also found that the evangelical world doesn't put that much emphasis on worship. Worship can easily grow stale and become a sort of yawn session—"Yeah, okay. Let's get on with the real stuff of the service." Most people see worship as just an event. But you can sit in a worship service and have little, if anything, to do with real worship.
Worship is far more than an event or activity. Nor is worship simply an emotion or a feeling you work up. Some of us believe that we haven't truly worshiped until we've worked ourselves to a certain level emotionally and psychologically. Worship may involve our feelings, and it ought to, but not necessarily.
At its most basic level, to worship literally means to declare worth or to make a statement about the value of something or someone else. The Bible paints a fuller picture for us of what true worship is:
1. Worship is our response to God. First John 4:19 says, "We love Him because He first loved us." He acted first; we respond to His act.
2. Worship is the proper response to God. When Paul said in Romans 12 that we ought to give our bodies over as living sacrifices to the Lord, he wrote that this "is your reasonable service" (v. 1). Worship is the wisest response you could have to God.
3. Worship is the proper response to God from the heart—from the core, the center of our being. As Jesus said to the woman at the well of Samaria, the Father is seeking people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (see John 4:23).
4. Worship is the proper response to God from the heart whereby we place Him above everything else in life. It's not just that we declare that God is worthy. Jesus said, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment" (Matthew 22:37-38). If we're to worship God, we must place Him above hobbies, entertainment, education, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, and children. Worship isn't just a once-a-week activity under the guise of a "worship service." It is not a feeling that we conjure up. It is a lifestyle of adoration where we declare quite appropriately that God is above everything—and everyone—else in our lives.
So you can have a great time of worship on Sunday, but how do you live on Monday? How do you live with your spouse, with your kids, at work? If you truly believe that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord (see Philippians 2:9-11) and that all of history is marching toward that event, why would you not want to voluntarily bow, surrender, submit, and worship Him now? Not just in an event, not just with a feeling—but in a lifestyle.