Head-Heart-Hands | Formation

Time in Worship

Worship is more than singing. Worship happens whenever we give all of our attention, reverence, and obedience to God, no matter what we are doing.

What comes to mind when you hear the word worship? Is it singing? Is it praying? Is it formal or casual? Is it traditional or modern? Is it public or private? Is it personal or communal? Is it active or reflective?

In the Bible, worship is often associated with song and praise. Just read the Songs of Moses, Deborah, David, or Mary to see how powerful this type of worship can be. (You can find these in Deuteronomy 23:1-32, Judges 5:2-31, 2 Samuel 22, many of the Psalms, and Luke 1:46-55)

But worship is more than song and praise. In fact, throughout Scripture, God often tells his people that he doesn’t mostly want their songs and celebrations because those can be just fake performances. Instead he wants sincere lives of loving obedience.

What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifice, or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. (1 Samuel 15:22-23)
I hate all your show and pretense—the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living. (Amos 5:21-24)

We are going to define worship with a big-picture perspective like this:

Worship is believing that Jesus Christ is Lord and responding with one’s whole heart, soul, mind, and strength (or thoughts, words, and deeds; or head, heart, and hands).

By this definition, worship is a way of life, not just a feeling or an event, and that makes sense because the God who loves us and saves us is glorious and mighty. He deserves all glory, praise, and honor, all the time.

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come. You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing. Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever. Amen.” ​ (from Revelation 4 and 5)


Begin with a conversation starter,​ then use some of these warm-up questions.

  • How would you define worship?
  • Are there things other than God that some people worship? What or who are those things/people? Why do you think people worship them?
  • When have you experienced or been part of something that felt like you were truly worshipping God? What was that like?
  • What ways do people worship God other than singing?
  • Do you feel comfortable joining others in worship? Why or why not?

Read & Reflect

Use one or more of these passages to see what Scripture says about spending time in worship. You can also engage with the passage by copying out part of it, rewriting it as a prayer, rephrasing it as its opposite, summarizing it with a single word or phrase, making a list or chart of similar and dissimilar things, or turning it into something visual like a doodle, design, or flowchart.

Jesus' Example

Read Matthew 4:1-11 (Jesus tempted by Satan).

  • List all the things Jesus says and does in these verses. How are these worship?
  • What are your thoughts about Jesus — who is God in flesh and fully divine — worshipping his Father?
  • What things can you learn from Jesus’ example? What things can you imitate or do yourself?
  • How and when are you tempted to worship something other than God? How do you handle that?

Positive Example

Read Luke 7:36-50 (a woman anoints Jesus) or Luke 23:44-47 (a Roman soldier worships Jesus).

  • How do you think the woman/soldier were viewed by other people?
  • What do you notice about how they respond to Jesus?
  • What can you learn from their words and actions (or from Jesus’ words in response to the woman)?
  • How are the woman’s/soldier’s words and actions a form of worship?

Negative Example

Read Mark 10:17-27 or Matthew 19:16-22 (rich young ruler).

  • How are the words and attitudes of the rich man the opposite of worship?
  • Have you ever responded to Jesus like the ruler did — not giving him your full allegiance and worship? What was happening? Why did you respond that way?
  • What changes in your heart and mind would help you have an attitude of worship?

Teaching Passage

Read John 4:21-24 (Jesus visits with a woman at a well)

  • Why do you think it’s important to “know the one you worship”? (v. 22)
  • What do you think it means to worship the Father in spirit and in truth?
  • Where and when do you find it easiest to worship? Why?
  • What are some ways you can worship in your everyday life without going to a specific worship gathering?

Some Ideas About How to Worship in Your Daily Life

  • Identify an easy prompt — something that you are likely to see or hear each day — that will be a reminder to pause for just a moment and praise or thank God for who he is and all he’s done. It could be the sound of birds singing, a school bell, a stoplight, stop signs, ​brushing your teeth, filling your bookbag, starting your car, or something like that. You could also set an alarm on your phone for specific times throughout the day.
  • Begin each prayer this week with a worship statement about God. For example,
  1. “Dear God, You are more powerful than anything and anyone.”
  2. “Dear God, You are the most amazing and wonderful thing in the universe.”
  3. “Dear God, I am in awe of you.”
  4. “Dear God, There is nothing more glorious than you.”

Then pause for just a few seconds to focus all of your attention and love on him.

  • Listen to a song that focuses all your attention on God’s glory and power. After listening, take a minute to write down one truth about God that will help you worship him. If you only know current worship songs, ask your leader to help you find one of these classic hymns — you can listen or simply read the lyrics together (check out YouTube for lots of new versions of these songs):
  1. All Creatures of Our God and King
  2. Holy Holy Holy
  3. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
  4. Immortal, Invisible
  5. O Worship the King
  6. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
  7. We Sing the Greatness of Our God
  8. Crown Him with Many Crowns
  9. O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
  10. Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee

Remember that every act of obedience — that is, setting aside your own desires and putting God’s will first — is worship. For some people, the idea of worship is more inviting than the idea of obedience, even though they go hand in hand. This week, think of obedience as worship.


Student Card

Capernaum Version

More verses about spending time in worship

Honor the LORD for the glory of his name. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness. (Psalm 29:2)

Everything on earth will worship you; they will sing your praises, shouting your name in glorious song. (Psalm 66:4)

Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. (Psalm 100:2)

Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. (1 John 5:21)

Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies. (Jonah 2:8)

In the last days, the mountain of the LORD’s house will be the highest of all—the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship. (Micah 4:1)

“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.’” (Matthew 4:10)

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. (Romans 12:1)

So my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. (1 Corinthians 10:14)

Worship Christ as Lord of your life. (1 Peter 3:15)

I, John, am the one who heard and saw all these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me. But he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this book. Worship only God!” (Revelation 22:9)

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2103 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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