When Christians understand why we worship with music, we can enter into worship with greater power and purity. By understanding the purpose and impact of musical worship, we can focus on God without the distraction of confusion. Understanding why and how to worship Biblically transforms our faith and relationship with the Lord. Therefore, I have shared some of the strongest reasons why we worship with music and how it is often done. It has transformed the way I see God and the way I worship Him. I am confident that it will also have an impact on you.
How and why do Christians worship with music? Christians worship with music because it is an expression of praise, glory, honor, and reverence to the Lord. The people of God have worshiped this way over the course of history, therefore, Christians today follow in this example. Musical worship has power and theological depths, as well as the power to shift our emotions and mentality. Christians worship with music by using various instruments, vocalists, and expressions.
A huge reason Christians worship with music is because the Nation of Israel was strong in musical worship. God worked through the Nation of Israel to bring about our savior, Jesus. From the example of Israel, we see many scriptural examples of impactful worship. In addition, we witness the impact of musical worship today in these same ways. There are also benefits of music that have been proven by nonbiased scientific studies. These aspects give us a glimpse into why God has ordained musical worship.
Why Worship With Music?
Worship is a lifestyle. It is characterized by devotion, obedience, and love for God and others. Additionally, it is a conscious action. Worship requires effort. It can be expressed in numerous ways, one way especially is music. When worshiping with music and song, there is a new awareness that comes. The time set aside to worship through music creates a strong connection and realization of God’s character, holiness, goodness, and power.
Adoration and worship was also a natural response in the scriptures when an individual experienced God, either auditorily, personally, or indirectly. The holiness and glory of God cause us to fall down in reverence because He is so much greater than any power or beauty we experience on earth. We simply cannot handle His full presence in our earthly and fallen bodies. We do not know goodness or splendor like His.
The people of God have worshiped throughout history. Now, we follow in their footsteps. God made way for His people to worship in the Nation of Israel. Moreover, there is great power in worship. Additionally, there are many benefits that come from musical worship. We recognize that God has crafted music in such a way that is pleasant for us and honoring to Him.
How to Worship Based on the Example of the Israelites and Early Church
Musical worship was a crucial part of the culture and faith of the Israelites, which is the basis for Christianity. This musical worship was one of the trademarks of Israel. Worship preceded the steps of their daily lives. God established His law and covenant with them so that He could dwell amongst them. Additionally, music was used in battle. The worshipers preceded the army.
Then, in the early church, worship continued. The physical battles ended but the spiritual battle continued and was explained. We can see the connection between musical worship in the fellowship and strength of the Body of Christ. Furthermore, we recognize music as a way to make a stance on behalf of the power of God.
Ephesians 3:10-13 declares, “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to His eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In Him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Musical worship is an expression of the church about the works of God. Thus, musical worship makes known the manifold wisdom of God to those in the heavenly realms and within the earth.
Within scripture, we see the use of musical worship throughout. God works through many avenues, but He highlights musical worship. Scripture references God’s people worshiping on their own accord and gathering others to do the same. After liberation from the Egyptians, Moses led the people in song and dance.
Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and spoke, saying: ‘I will sing to the Lord,
For He has triumphed gloriously! Exodus 15:1a
In response, Mirriam led the women in song and dance. Thus, praise and response style worship commenced. This style of musical worship involved the congregated whole of God’s people. It was an extremely large gathering. Both instruments and worship were used, in addition to dance.
Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. Exodus 15:20
Furthermore, we see King David, noted as a man after God’s own heart, continuously worshiped in song, dance, and music. King David had an especial devotion and desire toward musical worship. He did so on his own accord. He also rallied the people to follow suit.
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Psalm 95:1
Moreover, God commanded and established worshiped within Israel. He intentionally made way for the tribe of Levi to become priests to minister to Him. God made way for the Levites to devote themselves only to this ministry. They were exempt from war and their basic needs were provided for. Land and inheritance were not given to them because God Himself was their inheritance.
They were not given material things that would detract them from devoted worship and attention. The Levites had numerous responsibilities in the ministry to the Lord on behalf of the people and atonement for sins. Added to their responsibilities was that of musical worship. King David led the Levites in this.
They brought the ark of God and put it in the middle of the tent David had pitched for it. Then they offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings before God. When David finished offering burnt sacrifices and peace offerings, he pronounced a blessing over the people in the Lord’s name…He appointed some of the Levites to serve before the ark of the Lord, to offer prayers, songs of thanks, and hymns to the Lord God of Israel. 1 Chronicles 16:1-2,4
This worship expressed Israel in many senses. God met His people through musical worship. Psalm 22:3 explains, “Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.” God is enthroned upon the genuine praises of His people. He meets His people through praise and He rests among them.
The Power of Worship
Musical worship is also powerful. It has an impact on the atmosphere. In fact, the Israelites defeated an entire enemy Kingdom, simply through the power of God’s presence and musical expression. The men of the army were advised to attend, but they weren’t commanded or granted permission to physically fight. Instead, they were told to give a loud shout when signaled.
March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in. Joshua 6:3-5
God used worship and obedience to bring about this large victory. Of course, we are not commanded in this time to use worship in this sense, however, we can learn from this passage about the power and significance of following God’s purpose. Furthermore, we see that the effects of music can be impactful.
Musical worship also speaks greatly about the theological truths that we believe. It helps us remember and recall the many truths about God. It brings us deeper into the knowledge of God and is an incredible way to learn more about Him in shorter amounts of time. The beauty of musical worship is that we can convey the entire gospel within a three minute period of time.
We can also express the overarching plan of God that is displayed through scripture. Musical worship is beneficial to new believers who are continually growing in the knowledge of who God is. It is also beneficial to Christians of many years because it serves as a reminder of all the aspects of God’s presence that we overlook.
Furthermore, these theological songs can be an example to unbelievers. Christian songs can speak truth into a Godless world. Thus, bringing more people to the revelation of God. Today, we have even more of an advantage of spreading the gospel through our music and worship. We use radio stations, media, music apps, and the internet to convey the message of Christ to a world that may never step into a church.
Origin of Music
Perhaps another reason that Christians worship musically is because God created music and singing. John 1:3 expresses, “Through Him, all things were made; without Him, nothing was made that has been made.” We use music to glorify God because He is the original author of music. All things created by God should be redeemed and used for His glory instead of the tainted purposes of men or the enemy.
Therefore, music should be used in worship because it points back to the Lord’s creativity and beauty. God also reveals His love for us through music by making it an enjoyable activity that we can take part in. Worship could have been painful and begrudging if God had wanted. Yet, God made it pleasant for us and for Him. The ultimate giver is God. He is the giver of life, love, and all goodness. Musical worship is a simple and delightful way that we can give back to God for all He has given to us.
Benefits of Music
Since God is the creator of music, let’s take a look at the benefits of music from non-biased sources that don’t take a Biblical worldview. We can glean from these studies to gain further insight into why God created music and why He uses it so often in the lives of His people. We shouldn’t accept various secular studies as our ultimate truth because only the Bible should hold that authority in our lives. However, we can see many connections that actually point back to the wisdom of God.
Shifted Emotions and Mentality
Music has various health benefits. A study done by Harvard medical school states, “Music has allowed people to express their feelings and communicate with others. More than simply expressing emotions, music can alter them.” It is no wonder that God would lead His people to worship in order to refocus and alter their emotions. Musical worship takes the eyes of people off of the trials and struggles of life and places them on the goodness and faithfulness of God.
Musical worship is a reminder of God in the midst of the chaos and storms of life. It is also a way of expressing what exactly we are going through. There are Biblical songs of lament, as well as praise and worship. God realized the state of the world and the impact it has on people. Therefore, He has created an outlet this is intended to ultimately recenter people from the lies of the enemy and world and onto the truth of God’s purposes. No worldly power can stand against that of God. When we worship, we are recognizing and declaring that into our circumstances, community, personal lives, and world.
Music also benefits physical health, especially if it is paired with dance and movement. Recall that the people of God would often dance and move about when praising the Lord. The physical state of the mind is also improved when interacting with music. Music essentially strengthens brainpower, memory, retention, and mood. Additionally, it has exhibited the ability to improve cardiovascular health.
Moreover, music reduces stress and can help bring a sense of calm. In our hectic lives, we need to become calm and still in order to focus on the Lord. When our minds are on to-do lists, anxieties, stresses, and pressures, we cannot focus on God. Music can help us more easily enter into a heart posture of worship because it stills the striving and constant swirling of thoughts that many of us experience. Once we are in a mental space of calm, we can reflect on God through prayer, scripture, adoration, and reverence.
How to Practically Worship with Music
Worshiping with music can be done in many ways. There are numerous genres of music that are utilized in praise and worship, as well as instruments, and vocal style. The most important part of musical worship is not in the details or skill. Rather, the highest importance is the motivation and content of the heart. Details and skills must follow and not precede humility, and pure motives.
The best way to understand how to worship with music is to first understand why we worship with music. Now that you have a basic understanding of the history of musical worship, we can continue with the other details.
If you are leading others in worship, the content of your heart is even more important than if you are worshiping on your own. When in personal worship, there is less temptation to do so for recognition from men. It is still possible on this level. Yet, the higher the position and the more people that follow, equal greater amounts of pride. There is also higher responsibility placed on leaders. You will not be able to lead people spiritually where you yourself have not yet gone.
The content of one’s heart is constantly being referred to in scripture. Jesus explains that all evil and unclean things come from within a person, not from the outside. The heart is a powerful and important piece of each person, especially those who claim a connection to Christ.
Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34
The heart is also deceitful. We may not even fully understand our own hearts, let alone those around us. What may look like pure worship may be tainted because of the position of the heart. In contrast, pure worship may be disregarded because it doesn’t have a strong outward appearance.
Furthermore, Jeremiah 19:9 declares, “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?”
Our response should be a humble attitude towards the Lord that seeks edification and truth. We should be willing to confess any sins. We also need to be ready to let go of anything that does not produce life or good fruit. Like the psalmist, we should ask God to search our hearts.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24
We should also search within ourselves. A helpful question to ask is, “Why do I want to do this?” and “Why did I agree to do this?” If there are any selfish motives seeking the praise or position of man, you should recenter yourself before leading others or worshiping in group settings that may cause you to stumble.
Our focus shouldn’t remain solely on our hearts. Biblically, we cannot disregard the need to practice and prepare for musical worship. We should give God our very best in all areas. Therefore, if we are not dedicated to the fine-tuning and details of worship, we are not giving God our best. The Bible urges us to play skillfully for the Lord and to sing new songs to Him. This shows us that we should be ever-growing in our worship and musical abilities.
Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy. Psalm 33:3
“The best” that each person has to give is going to vary considerably. For one individual, his best may be recognizing that there is a beat in music and that he should do his best to stick to it. For others, their best is learning more complex techniques. God gives gifts differently to each person in each area of life. Not everyone is talented musically. This shouldn’t be a shameful reality because it is simply how God chooses to work.
“One and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:11
If you are not a worship leader, there is less pressure to be skillful in the craft. Taking part in worship can and should be done at any skill level. We should not refrain from worship simply because we are not musical. In fact, it is a beautiful thing for someone to give God their devoted and passionate worship even when musical worship is not their gifting.
Format of Christian Worship
The format of musical worship varies depending on the denomination of the church and the background of it. Some churches utilize a stage in the front of the room that the worship leaders are stationed on. Other churches have the worship leaders on the same floor level with the rest of the church surrounding or intermingled with them.
Additionally, musical worship can be simple with only one or two instruments and one vocalist. However, it can also involve a full band with an array of instruments, and singers. Hymnal books, printed out lyrics, and powerpoints of lyrics are some of the ways that churches unify the members in song.
Whether the church stands or sits during worship is also dependent. When it comes to these details of worship, many different combinations can be made. The format of Christian worship is not of huge importance. The key elements are the scriptural truths that are being sung about and the posture of the heart. If songs are not aligned with scripture, then they should not be sung. In the same way, any practice that is not congruent with scripture should be revised.
Now that you have a better understanding of how and why Christians worship with music, you may have developed a few more questions. In this section, I am briefly answering some of the other questions that are often brought up in the subject of Christian worship.
What is the True Meaning of Worship?
As you may have already discovered, music is only one of the many avenues of worship. The true meaning of worship isn’t in the way instruments or vocals are used. Worship isn’t merely musical. The use of these tools in and of themselves is not worship. Worship must be backed by the intentions of the heart and a life that is marked by obedience and devotion.
If the way a person lives each moment, contradicts the appearance of their worship, they are not truly worshiping. This is an example of being hypocritical. Worship is an intentional way of life that covers all areas. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, refer to my blog, “Christian Worship: Definition, Biblical Examples, and How-To.”
Why Do We Need to Worship God?
We worship God because He is the only one worthy of worship. He is the One who created all things. No one else can make this claim. No one else has the power to sustain life. Humans cannot take credit for the necessities of life that we depend on, such as oxygen, sunlight, food, and gravity. If any of these were missing, we could not survive.
These are only four of the millions of things that we rely upon. We may be able to create with what is already here, yet no one could create the initial substance with which we create. In fact, each person is not even responsible for his or her own life. Our lives come and go without our power. Simply put, we did not create ourselves.
Furthermore, if we do not worship God, we worship ourselves or other people. Look at current events and history and witness what the glory of men brings. Pride and greed rule and destroy this world. Thus, the only way to negate this is to give worship and glory to the only one who can properly handle it. God is good, therefore, we can trust Him with our worship.
The Lord doesn’t force people to worship Him, instead, He makes it an open decision. God is constantly giving life, love, and goodness to this world. Worship is our way to give back to Him and to mutually love and respect Him, as we should in any relationship. If you are struggling to connect with God during worship, “Worship with Confidence (Even if You’re Not Feeling It)” may help reconcile any negative feelings.