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 (NLT)
In almost any teaching or discussion about worship you can find, you will hear some variation of this statement: Worship isn’t just the songs we sing at church on Sundays; it’s a lifestyle. But what we do in our church services is so ingrained in us that it can be difficult to articulate more specifically what it would look like to actually live a life of worship.
The above verse from Romans 12 is a popular one to refer to because it’s one of the few places in scripture to plainly say, “This is the way to worship.” But even then, we’re not given a narrow definition; we’re told to give our bodies to God.
The “and so” (or “therefore” in other translations) indicates that this admonition is the continuation of a previous thought. If you look at chapter 11, which is in the thick of discussing how God intends for both Jews and Gentiles to receive His mercy and salvation, the final verse says:
For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen. (Romans 11:36, NLT)
In other words, what things can we do that can be considered worship? Everything! Everything is intended for His glory, and when we are living for Him, the overflow of our lives points back to Him and all of His goodness.
I am part of an online community of female writers. Together, we are learning and growing in our craft, championing each other’s stories and encouraging each other in the hard, often mundane, discipline of completing books and other creative endeavors.
A while back, one of the women shared that she had experienced a breakthrough where her words had been stuck. During the worship time in her church gathering, the images and plot began to come into her mind, so she sat down, pulled out her journal, and began writing away. Part of her almost started to feel bad that she was doing this instead of singing, but she pushed that aside as the words flowed.
I was able to encourage her and affirm what she already knew—she did not need to feel bad at all because her writing is an act of worship. It is an offering of herself that she pours out to the glory of God. Whether it’s in the middle of a church service, or sitting in a coffee shop, or alone in her home, her words reflect back to the creativity and beauty of God—even if she is not specifically writing about Him.
The 1981 film Chariots of Fire portrays the story of Olympic runner Eric Liddell, who was also a committed Christian. Because of his personal convictions, he refused to run or compete on the Sabbath. At one point, he is questioned about why he even runs if he’s not going to be able to compete in a Sunday race, and in the movie, he responds, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”
I was reminded of this quote by my college choir director. It was right before a performance, and he was encouraging us to see our music as an act of worship. The quote from Chariots of Fire was significant to him because he said, every time he stood up to direct a choir, he felt God’s pleasure over him. It brought tears to my eyes when he shared this because that is the burning desire of my heart—to live for God’s pleasure and delight.
But even more powerful is the realization that, as God’s children, we are continually bringing Him pleasure. It is not only in moments of artistic display or other significant talents that He is pleased; it is every single time that our hearts reflect His.
When I am patient with my rambunctious children, I feel God’s pleasure (this one’s extra important for me these days!). I have come to recognize that even the practical things I do to love my husband well and care for my family are ultimately an act of worship.
When you do your job with honesty and integrity, when you speak a word of kindness to a stranger, when you are generous, when you make the right decision even though it is hard, when you are responsible with your finances, when you prioritize rest—when you do all of these things and so many more, you are engaging in worship and delighting the Father’s heart.
I encourage you to ask God to reframe the way you view your everyday life. It might even help you with some challenging or unpleasant things you are needing to do in this season if you can view them as an act of worship.
Even more though, I believe God wants to open your eyes to all the things you do every single day that are bringing Him glory and delight. He is pleased with you more than you can even imagine. Let a new understanding of the joy you bring to Him draw you into a deeper awareness of His constant presence.