Bowing Down in Adoration and Surrender
Stephen Ku — Pacifica, California, USA
It’s interesting to see the huge
varieties in the way people worship. Some worship in total silence, while
others sing and dance. Some raise their hands as they pray, while others get on
In the Bible, worship commonly
involves prayer, offering of sacrifices, songs of praise, or the reading of the
law. From these acts of worship derived the form of Christian worship we are
familiar with today.
When we speak of worship, we
commonly associate it with outward actions such as singing, prayer, and
listening to sermons. But, from God’s perspective, these external expressions
alone do not constitute true worship. So what does it mean to worship God? How
should we worship God and let our worship be acceptable to Him?
It would be helpful to first
re-examine the meaning of the word “worship.” The word “worship” means “prostrate
oneself in homage.” It is a term that describes the action of a person bowing
down before someone great. It is a sign of total humility and devotion. The
Bible often uses this word in this sense.
However, the true essence of
worship is not in the outward bowing down but the bowing down of the inner
person. The place of worship is not nearly as important as the place of our
To those who only paid attention
to the outward form of worship but forgot the true meaning of worship, this is
what the Lord had to say:
These people draw near to Me with their
mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in
vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. (Mt
True worship is a heart-felt
response to God’s greatness. It is the adoration of God and complete surrender
from the heart. God cares much more about what drives us in our worship than
the motions we go through in our worship.
Worship Begins with Adoration
To worship is to be in complete
awe of God. Our only motivation to worship should be God. What brings us to our
knees is our adoration of Him. Because His love, power, and wisdom are so far
greater than ours, we are naturally moved to bow down to Him. If our worship is
driven by anyone or anything other than God, it is not true worship. God alone
inspires our worship. When we truly think about and feel who God is and what He
has done for us, we cannot but fall prostrate before Him.
When I pray, I tend to have a
habit of going through a list of thank-you’s and requests to God. Perhaps this
is better than day-dreaming in prayer. But it’s easy for my prayers to fall
into a series of mindless repetitions. When that happens, I am actually
worshipping as an obligation rather than out of adoration for God. This kind of
worship becomes superficial.
Have you ever experienced a moment
when you felt in your heart that God was so awesome and great and that you were
so small and worthless? That’s how Peter fell before Jesus Christ. When he and
his fellow fishermen had done what Jesus told him and let down the net, they
caught such a great number of fish that they filled two boats and the boats
almost sank! At that moment, Peter fell down at Jesus’ feet, feeling completely
worthless and sinful, and he asked the Lord to depart from him (Lk 5:8). No one
told him to fall down before Jesus, but he did so because he was in awe in the
presence of the Almighty God.
This is the way the psalmists in
the Bible worshipped God. When they considered God’s loving mercy, His mighty
deliverance, His works in nature, they marveled. From their inner-most being,
they cried out to God in adoring wonder.
We can also experience this awe
when we devote ourselves to God’s word and prayer. The times when I truly felt
God’s presence in my prayers, all I could do and wanted to do was to praise God
continually. There was no need for words. Pleas and requests felt out of place.
In moments like these, I felt God’s infinite and indescribable greatness. His
power and love completely enveloped me. His Holy Spirit gave wings to my prayer
and lifted me directly to God’s mercy seat. An overwhelming sense of humility
and gratitude took over. Hallelujahs just kept flowing from my heart out of my
mouth, whether in the form of loud cries or spiritual songs.
It is no wonder that the living
creatures, the elders, the angels, and the multitude in John’s vision could not
stop praising God before His throne. It is no wonder that they continually fell
down before the throne to worship.
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many
angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number
of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying
with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power
and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and
such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing
and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the
Lamb, forever and ever!” Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!”
And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and
ever. (Rev 5:11-14)
Now, this is true worship. They
were in such awe of the everlasting Lord God for His greatness that they
worshiped Him day and night. From their heart, they gave thanks and praise to
the Lamb who was slain.
Sometimes, we feel uninspired even
though we read the Bible, sing, and pray. This is because our hearts have not
entered the King’s throne room. We have not lifted our eyes to behold God’s
beauty and splendor. We are too busy to appreciate His mighty works of creation
or the miracles we take for granted. We have forgotten to take note of the nail
prints in His hands and the reason why they are there.
But if you take the time each day
to ascend into God’s presence, He will inspire you and move your heart. Quiet
your spirit and come before His feet to hear His words. Turn away from the
short-lived attractions of the world and look towards His face. You will marvel
at His works and His will. Give Him all your burdens and anxieties, and sit in
His loving embrace. He will speak tenderly to you and comfort your soul with
God’s throne room is always open.
Every moment of our lives is an occasion to worship. Even when you’re not on
your knees in prayer or holding a Bible, you can still offer to God a true
worship. Come into God’s presence any moment. He will never fail to inspire
you, be it through a word of encouragement, a reminder of His eternal love, a
warm embrace by His Spirit. There and then, you will fall down before Him in
Worship Ends with Surrender
The natural response of adoration
for God is total surrender.
In John’s heavenly vision, the
twenty-four elders sat on thrones, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns
of gold on their heads (Rev 4:4). They had been given great honor and glory.
However, John records that they fell down “before Him who sits on the throne
and [worshipped] Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before
the throne.” (Rev 4:10). The word “cast” means “throw.” These elders threw
their crowns of gold down when they worshiped God! Before the majestic and
splendor of God, the only place fit for their crowns was the ground.
Before our Lord Almighty, our
treasures become rubbish (cf. Phil 3:8); our wisdom becomes foolishness; our
strength becomes weakness (cf. 1Cor 1:25); and our righteous garments become
filthy rags (Isa 64:6). As we come into the sanctuary and bow down to the King
of kings, we cannot but confess our utter insufficiency and cast before His
throne everything that makes us proud.
Our Lord Jesus taught us that true
worship does not depend on where we worship but whether we worship in spirit
and in truth (Jn 4:21-24). On the one hand, God wants us to bow before Him not
only outwardly, but sincerely with our spiritual being and in complete
On the other hand, and taking our
worship a genuine step further, it is important for us to surrender our spirits
to His spirit and our truthfulness to His truth. Sincerity is not enough. A
person can be sincerely wrong. We cannot worship and serve God according to our
own ways and will; we must surrender to His ways and His will. That is worship,
and it is a daily action.
Paul, likewise, explains worship
in terms of total surrender of ourselves to God.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the
mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy,
acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to
this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove
what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom 12:1-2)
Worship is to let go of ourselves
and let God take control in our lives. It means conforming to God’s ways rather
than to popular culture.
Many times, God’s ways and wills
are far beyond what we can understand. We can only humbly submit to them with
an attitude of awe. As Paul expounded on God’s election, he could not help but
exclaim with praise and reverence:
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and
knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding
”For who has known the mind of the LORD?
Or who has become His counselor?”
”Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever.
Amen. (Rom 11:33-36)
God’s thoughts and ways are so
much higher than ours. He sees from eternity to eternity, while we don’t even
know about tomorrow. He upholds the whole creation with His powerful word,
whereas we cannot even add an inch to our stature. We can only entrust
ourselves completely to our Maker and Lord.
Even when calamities strike us,
true worshippers of God continue to bow their knees before Him. Job was such a
Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his
head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong. (Job 1:20-22)
Job’s worship was one of total
surrender. In the midst of sudden tragedy, he fell to the ground in worship and
offered praise to the Lord. He submitted to God’s sovereign will without a word
of complaint or resentment. This is the kind of true worshipper that the Father
A Life of Worship
Worship is not confined to the
walls of a chapel. It does not only start or end with church services. Rather,
it is a life-long bowing down of our hearts before God, adoring Him and
surrendering ourselves completely to Him. A worshipper of God worships before
the throne day and night, not just when he is in a church building.
Our God is the very reason for our
existence. To Him and through Him and for Him are all things. He is worthy of
all glory and honor.
May every day of our lives be
filled with praise, thanks, and wonder. May our entire being be humbly
dedicated to God for His service.