Worship and prayer are two prominent disciplines in the Christian life. They are dependent on each other for a strong relationship with God and are a blessing in our own lives.
What are worship and prayer? Worship and prayer are two different spiritual disciplines that help you develop spiritual maturity in your relationship with God. Prayer is primarily a vehicle for communicating with God and allowing him to communicate with you. Worship is primarily an action focused on glorifying God.
In this post, I hope to help you figure out what prayer and worship are. That you’re able to know how they compare, and why they are essential to your walk with God.
What is Prayer?
By definition, a relationship requires communication between two people. Thus, prayer is the foundation of every relationship with God. Jesus’ life and ministry are evidence of its importance. As God’s own Son, he frequently went off by himself to pray.
Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.Matthew 14:13 ESV
This is just one of the many examples of Jesus taking a step back to seek God. We see this occur throughout His life on earth.
He prayed through distress when he was on the Mt. of Olives before his arrest.
And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.Luke 22:39-44 ESV
He prayed through important decisions.
In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles:Luke 6:12-13 ESV
He also set an example for his disciples by teaching them how to pray.
Pray then like this:Matthew 6:9-13 ESV
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Jesus prayed consistently because He had a strong relationship with His Father. He went to Him for every situation He faced and knew that no request was too small.
Prayer is essential to our relationship with God because it’s having a conversation with our creator Himself.
What is Worship?
Worship is any action done for the glory of God. Traditionally we think of this as worship songs and music. However, worship is much more than that.
In Romans 12, Paul talks about offering our bodies as living sacrifices to God as an act of worship. Worship isn’t restricted to music but is displayed every time we submit to His authority in our lives.
When we worship him, we are recognizing who he is, the Almighty God, Great I Am, and King of Kings through praise, humility, repentance, and submission to his sovereignty.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.Romans 12:1 ESV
This means that worship can be accomplished through music, serving, dancing, art, obedience, generosity, and fellowship.
The point is that God is glorified in your actions.
4 Key Similarities Between Prayer and Worship
I have found that all prayer can be an act of worship, but not all worship is an act of prayer. If the point of worship is to acknowledge who God is and praise him for it. This is a large part of prayer.
There are usually four main elements to a time of prayer, and each one elicits praise and worship for God.
- Adoration – Verbally praising God for his character.
- Confession – Expressing humility and repentence for sin and gratefulness for justification.
- Thanksgiving – Gratitude for everything that God has done, is doing, and will do.
- Supplication – Humble requests for God to satisfy our needs and praise for his soverinty.
So, although we will talk about the differences, there is an overlap between prayer and worship.
Key Differences Between Prayer and Worship
While there is some overlap between prayer and worship, they are still two distinct disciplines. This is largely due to their goals.
The goal of worship is the glory of God.
The goal of prayer is communication with God.
While prayer can achieve the goal of bringing glory to God it is not the primary focus.
And, because the goals are different, the actions that lead to the accomplishment of those goals are also often different.
For example, I can worship and glorify God by serving my family and making them a meal. Just because I am seeking to glorify God and worship him in that task, does not mean that I am praying.
The Value of Daily Prayer and Worship
Life is busy, and finding time for prayer and worship can seem like an impossible task. I know I am certainly guilty of prioritizing other things over time with God.
However, it is precisely in those busy times that it is vital to cling to God through prayer and worship. As Christians, God should be central to every aspect of our lives, and when we are busy is when it’s most important to keep that at the forefront of our minds.
In the midst of our crazy lives, we cling to the relationships that are most important to us. Our relationship with God should be at the top of that list, and prayer (communication) is how we maintain it.
And when everything around us is begging for our attention, worship keeps us focused on what is most important, our mission: to see God glorified across the earth.
So, in the chaos of your busy lives, don’t lose focus. Make time for what’s most important, always keep on praying, and worship the Lord with gladness.