It is a commonly held idea that listening to a sermon is worship. But in the strictest sense neither listening to a sermon nor intercessory praying is worship. Three things common in church services are distinct: worship, prayer and listening to the Word of God presented by one He has gifted to preach it.
In worship we bring to God and to His Son the praise, thanksgiving and gratitude of our hearts, for who He is and what He has done for us. In intercessory prayer we go to God for help, spreading before Him our needs or the needs of others. In listening to a sermon we receive instruction, correction, encouragement and exhortation from God. Intercessory prayer and messages from God’s Word may lead to worship, but strictly speaking they are not worship.
Many Christians have tended to overlook the true character of worship – that in worship we seek to give something to God rather than receive something from Him. Some Christians associate collective worship with the Lord’s Supper, for in it we have the memorial of His death and the manifestation of His love – and these prompt us to worship Him. As part of a worship service there may perhaps be a message given and intercessory prayer offered, but properly speaking, these are not worship.
True worship will prompt us in devotion to Christ, and therefore will arouse our interest in all that concerns Him and His work. This in turn moves us to pray and intercede for His interests in general. It also inclines our hearts to receive instruction from Him. Finally, worship will lead us to serve Him.
By E. C. Hadley
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org