Question: “What is the difference between praise and worship?”
Answer: Understanding the difference between praise and worship can bring a new depth to the way we honor the Lord.
Throughout the Bible, the commands to “praise the Lord” are too numerous to mention. Angels and the heavenly hosts are commanded to praise the Lord (Psalm 89:5; 148:2). All inhabitants of the earth are instructed to praise the Lord (Psalm 138:4; Romans 15:11). We can praise Him with singing (Isaiah 12:5; Psalm 9:11), with shouting (Psalm 98:4), with dance (Psalm 150:4), and with musical instruments (1 Chronicles 13:8; Psalm 150:3-5).
Praise is the joyful recounting of all God has done for us. It is closely intertwined with thanksgiving as we offer back to God appreciation for His mighty works on our behalf. Praise is universal and can be applied to other relationships as well. We can praise our family, friends, or co-workers.
Worship, however, should be reserved for God alone (Luke 4:8). Worship is the art of losing self in the adoration of another. Praise can be a part of worship, but worship goes beyond praise. To truly worship God, we must adore Him for who He is, not just what He has done.
In Scripture, praise is usually presented as boisterous, joyful, and uninhibited. When the Bible mentions worship, however, the tone changes. We read verses like, “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 96:9). And, “Come, let us worship and bow down” (Psalm 95:6). Often, worship is coupled with the act of bowing or kneeling (2 Chronicles 29:28-29; Revelation 19:10).
Worship requires a proper attitude of heart. A person can go through the outward motions and not be worshiping (Psalm 51:16-17; Matthew 6:5-6). God sees the heart, and He desires and deserves sincere, heartfelt praise and worship.