As we have been in a season of focusing on BREAKTHROUGH as a church, my prayers have changed for this team. Often I will be praying for more people, or for a new found passion or leaders to rise up, for new ideas to be forged, but recently my prayer has been for our team and our church to experience breakthrough in worship.
Now what that exactly looks like, I am not 100% sure, but I know that we haven’t got there yet. There is so much more to experience in worship, so many more God encounters, so many prophecies untold. I am convinced that ‘we haven’t been this way before’, that our worship is about to shift.
A few Sundays ago I was leading worship and there was a real sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was a beautiful atmosphere and the congregation were engaged in the worship. There was a moment there where I actually felt like I should get on my knees and kneel before our heavenly father. But something stopped me and I haven’t been able to get that out of my mind. Why, in that moment did I feel like I couldn’t take that particular posture of worship? The only answer I have been able to come up with is that the little voice in my head saying ‘we don’t do that here’ or ‘what will people think’ or ‘that’s too out there’ etc. held me back. This has caused me to research the different postures of praise and worship and I hope that from here, we can all draw a line in the sand and say ‘we are going to break free in worship, we are going to experience new levels, we are going to throw off anything that holds us back from worshipping like we never have before.
It’s up to us to lead the way.
As a team, let’s engage in the different postures of praise & worship that are found in the Bible. Just like King David, we are invited to find God’s heart and develop an affectionate connection with Him. We are becoming like the One we worship!
The Hebrew words translated as “praise” or “bless” have a deeper meaning than is conveyed in English. They instruct, command or imply the worshiper is to take specific physical action.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
Biblical worship is expressed not only with our WHOLE LIFE, but with our WHOLE BODY. The Biblical model presents corporate praise has a whole group activity. It is intended for everyone to participate, not spectate. Actions speak louder than words. Your outward expression reveals your heart attitude. Last year we spoke about how we sometimes don’t feel like worshiping and we have to #choosetopraise. Choosing to engage with God will change your attitude. God promises to reward those who choose to draw near to him.
Come close to God, and God will come close to you…
Literally, choosing to praise God is a transformative experience, it renews your mind.
“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind”
This is part of the purpose of worship. We position our hearts so that God can change and conform us to the image of Christ. Worship ‘postures’, or outward expressions of our inward passion, are personal but also to be displayed communally. It is really important that, as a creative team, we understand how to be expressive before Jesus so we can encourage our congregation to use some of these Biblical illustrations to help them to be outward expressers of their inward passion.
Every word that describes worship in the Bible describes a posture of the body – without exception.
So let’s journey through the bible and look at the different postures of praise & worship and what they mean. So get your bibles ready and your pens ready.
Shout praise. Expresses confidence in God’s ability. A declaration of victory.
Psalm 145:4 (NLT)
Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power.
Psalm 27:6 (NLT)
Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the Lord with music.
One of my favourite examples in the bible of shouting praise that brought God’s victory is the walls of Jericho.
When the people heard the sound of the rams’ horns, they shouted as loud as they could. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it.
Shouting to God – A lot of Christians think to shout means to sing loudly, not at all. It means to shout. Try it! It liberates us!
Kneel, bless the Lord. Expresses humility.
Kneeling is a physical act that lowers your stature below the one of higher status. It’s actually making you smaller in the presence of someone larger. Kneeling shows humility. It’s the position Jesus took when he prayed “not my will, but your will be done” (Luke 21:41–44). For the longest time kneeling was the position to show repentance. Next time you’re confessing sin or humbling yourself to God’s will, try kneeling.
Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,
2 Chronicles 6:12-13
12 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the entire community of Israel, and he lifted his hands in prayer. 13 Now Solomon had made a bronze platform 7 1⁄2 feet long, 7 1⁄2 feet wide, and 4 1⁄2 feet high[a] and had placed it at the center of the Temple’s outer courtyard. He stood on the platform, and then he knelt in front of the entire community of Israel and lifted his hands toward heaven.
When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,
I have sworn by my own name; I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to me.”
Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
Spreading out your hands. The extended hand. Expresses gratitude, thankfulness and surrender.
A great worshiper: King David, used his hands in multiple ways as he worshiped.
I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.
When you spread out your hands you are open to receive from Him. Interestingly, sometimes it is difficult to hold our hands up for long periods of time. The Hebrew word for glory is the same word for weight. God is putting his glory in your hands.
The raised hand. Lift up your hands. Expresses adoration.
I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
Accept my prayer as incense offered to you, and my upraised hands as an evening offering.
The lifting up of the hands is best described as surrender. When you extend your hands, you are acknowledging God’s majesty, God’s sovereignty.
Clap, applaud. Expresses joy and victory.
Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise!
Worship is not some rigid posture that you sit in; it’s an activity of the whole body. Clapping has less to do with keeping in time with the music and more to do with triumph. In context, Psalm 47 is about the thundering hand claps accompanying a battle cry of triumph.
For the Lord Most High is awesome.
He is the great King of all the earth.
He subdues the nations before us,
putting our enemies beneath our feet.
Celebrate extravagantly. Root of the word “hallelujah” which means “praise (halla) to jah (God)”. Expresses joy, jubilation and celebration.
Halal means: “to praise, celebrate, glory, sing (praise), to be boastful, to rave, to be clamorously foolish.”
Psalm 148 – 150
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens!
Praise him from the skies!
Praise him, all his angels!
Praise him, all the armies of heaven!
Praise him, sun and moon!
Praise him, all you twinkling stars!…
…and that is just a snippet. I encourage you to read through all of those chapters. They are inspiring.
Halal expresses our love for God and who He is, and celebrates His goodness in our lives. It is the expression of love by someone who is madly in love with God and will go to extraordinary lengths to express that love. The words ‘celebrate, boastful, rave, clamour’ give us an indication of the nature of this type of praise. They bring to mind the scenes one may be familiar with of supporters at a sporting event, where people are not afraid to voice their support, celebrate their victory with singing and shouting, lose their inhibitions and boast about their teams’ performance.
Singing scripture to instruct and encourage.
Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord; it is fitting for the pure to praise him.
I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
“Sing praises to God, sing praises to our King, sing praises.”
This word for praise, Tahillah, means to sing praise. This is the praise that David said that he wanted to be in his mouth continually.
Prayer, often sung as intercession and petition.
Hear my prayer, O Lord!
Listen to my cries for help!
Don’t ignore my tears.
For I am your guest—
a traveler passing through,
as my ancestors were before me.
This word means intercession for someone, prayer, supplication, hymn. This is the most general Hebrew word for prayer in the Old Testament. Isaiah 56:7 states that God’s House will be a house of prayer. This was the scripture Jesus was quoting when He drove out the moneychangers from the temple courtyard (Matthew 21:13). This term meant a prayer that was set to music and sung in formal worship.
“Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp.”
2 Samuel 6:14-16
And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment. So David and all the people of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and the blowing of rams’ horns. But as the Ark of the Lord entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she was filled with contempt for him.
Kara means; To dance, leap, bow, worship, rejoice, joy, praise, thanksgiving, be glad – all of these words, when taken back to their root word and original meaning, translate into some form of dance and movement unto the Lord. Essentially, the word Kara means to whirl, leap, jump or skip before the Lord.
Make music by striking the fingers on strings or parts of a musical instrument. When we play instrumentally to facilitate a holy atmosphere, it’s not just church cocktail music, it’s zamar.
Praise the Lord with melodies on the lyre;
make music for him on the ten-stringed harp.
Sing a new song of praise to him;
play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.
Bowing. It is a very significant act of reverence.
Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.
In the NIV is says:
But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple.
Come, let us worship and bow down.
Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,
The man bowed low and worshiped the Lord.
Then the people of Israel were convinced that the Lord had sent Moses and Aaron. When they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.
Prostrate or falling down.
1 Corinthians 14:24-25
But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you.”
This is the most used description of worship we have in the Bible. The root problem of the human race is our desire to depend on ourselves rather than God. Laying prostrate before the Lord demonstrates our total dependence on God.
Genesis 17:3 & 17
3 Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations.”
17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed…
The Lord appeared to Abraham twice.
- FIRST: Abraham fell on his face, God talked to him.
- SECOND: Abraham fell on his face and laughed.
Abraham was pretty used to being on his face before God. I think if you checked everyone of the great people of the Bible were at one time on their face before God. It is the way to greatness.
I hope this helps bring clarity to why we use outward expressions of worship. While these are certainly not the only outward expressions, each one is Biblically founded.
I hope the meaning of these praise words inspires us to break free of our inhibitions and become more engaged worshipers. Hands in your pockets or arms crossed is not the body language modeled in Biblical worship.
The joy of the Lord is our strength. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
I hope these actions and attitudes guide our team and our church to be as expressive in our praise as our almighty, all-loving God deserves.
I hope this challenges us to perhaps adjust our Posture of Praise and experience worship in new ways. But whatever we do during prayer or worship. Let’s do it on purpose. Let’s take on a new Posture of Praise and see what God does.