In this post, I seek to define worship in a very rudimentary way. Certainly worship is much larger than can be described in a couple paragraphs, but I want to give a couple thoughts regarding its definition. The Wesminster Shorter catachism summarizes the entire topic of worship as it asks its first question, “What is the chief end of man” ((http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/documents/WSC_frames.html)). The response is simple: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” ((Ibid.)) Thus, worship is expressly tied to God’s glory.
Jonathan Edwards also helps to understand this idea when he writes,
God is glorified not only by his glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it. God made the world that he might communicate, and the creature receive, his glory . . . both [with] the mind and the heart. He that testifies his having an idea of God’s glory [doesn’t] glorify God so much as he that testifies also his approbation [i.e., his heartfelt commendation or praise] of it and his delight in it” ((http://www.apuritansmind.com/jonathanedwards/JonathanEdwards-Miscellanies-Happiness.htm)).
At its basic meaning, worship is ascribing honor and worth to the one being worshiped. Worship is not for the benefit of the worshiper nor directed at the worshiper. Rather, worship is the response of God’s people to the person and work of the Trinity. As Frame writes, “worship ‘in Spirit and Truth,’ then is Trinitarian worship – worship that is aware of the distinctive work of the Father, the Son and the Spirit for our salvation.” ((Frame John. Worship in Spirit and Truth. (Phillipsburg: P & R Publishing,1996.), 7.)) Worship is foundational to the vertical relationship between the worshiper and the worshiped and therefore important to the life of believers.