The bible doesn't give a formal definition of worship.
But perhaps we can start by seeing what various words of worship mean.
The English word "worship" come from two old English words: weoth, which means "worth" and scipe or ship something like shape or "quality". We can see the old english word "ship" in morden words like friendship and sportsmanship - thats the quality of being a friend or the quality of being a good sport.
So worth-ship is the quality of having worth or being worthy. When we worship, we are saying that God has worth, that he is worthy. Worship means to declare worth, to attribute worth. Or to put it in biblical terms, we praise God. We speak or sing about how powerful God is.
This is the purpose for which we are called: "You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into this wonderful light" ( 1 Peter 2:9). We were called for the purpose of praising God, worshiping God. That is one of the job discription of a christian. We should declare that God is worthy, worth more than everything else put together.
Now lets look at the biblical words. In both Hebrew and Greek, there two major kinds of words for worship. The first kind means to bow down, to kneel, to put one's face down, as an act of respect and submission. Our body language is saying I will do watever you ask me to. I am ready to listen to your instructions and I am willing to obey. The other kind of biblical word means to serve. Roughly half of the time these words are translated as worship, and the other half has serve. It carries the idea of doing something for God, making a sacrifice or carrying out his instructions.
Of course, word meanings don't prove what worship is, but they do illustrate three kinds of worship. There is:
1. Worship that involves speaking
2. Worship that involves listening
3. Worship that involves doing.
There is a worship that express the heart, and worship that involves the mind, and the worship that involves the body. There is a worship that is giving praise upward, a worship that is receiving instructions from above, and the worship that carries instructions in the world around us.
We need all three types of worship. Some people focus primarily on speaking or singing praise to God. Praise is good, but if all we do is praise God, without ever listening to what he says, we have to ask whether we believe the words we are saying. If he is realy all wise and all loving, then we need to be attentive to what he is telling us, because he is worth listening to.
Similarly, all talk and no action does not show God the respect he deserves. Actions speak louder than words, and if your behavior isn't changed by God, then our actions are saying that God isn't important. When we realy beleive that God is worthy of every praise, then we will be willing to listen and to change the way we live in response to such a worthy God. We will trust him and seek him as much as we can. Worship should affect our behavior.
by Michael Morrison.
Grace Communion International