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Give Me My Props

by Tim O'Hearn

“Give me my props.” What does that phrase mean? It really makes a difference who you are. To a pilot who prefers reciprocating to jet engines it may mean that you would rather fly a propeller plane any day. As an actor, I would probably be asking for whatever items I would have to carry on stage. A really hip teenager (and hip may not be the current term) who uses that phrase may be asking you to give him the respect he deserves.

In the U.S. Navy a Chief Petty Officer is afforded a degree of respect not even given to people in equivalent pay grades in the other services. Whenever I go onto the local Air Force base I really appreciate it when the gate guard properly addresses me as “Chief.” I like it when somebody gives me my props.

The proper respect that is due God is what we call worship. That word comes from the Old English for the state of having worth, or worthship. Moses tells us that God likes to receive his props. “Thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (Ex 34:14)

There are many ways we worship God. One of the biggest mistakes new Christians make is to pigeonhole worship into just the time the church assembles together. This is encouraged by calling the assembly a “worship service.” That would imply that everything else is either non-worship service or worship non-service. Most of the times that the New Testament refers to Christians assembling together it speaks more about mutual encouragement and teaching than it does about praising and paying homage to God. Even when Paul talks about singing in the assembly (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16), he emphasizes speaking to each other over singing to God.

The words generally translated “worship” in the Bible simply mean to bow down before God. Other than physically or spiritually prostrating oneself before God, nothing else is said about how to give God his props. Nevertheless, we can understand that certain acts and attitudes may be considered worship. As already mentioned, our singing is to God. If it is such that it praises God or glorifies him, then it is worship.

Just the act of living for God is considered worship. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Rom 12:1) Just as worship under the Law of Moses included the bringing of animal sacrifices, so bringing ourselves to God is worship.

Prayer may also be worship. “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” (Heb 13:15) Beyond praise and thanks, prayer can be worship any time we make a request of God. Just the attitude that God is the giver and we can do nothing by ourselves is declaring the worthiness of God.

On the other hand, personal prayers may not be worship. Sometimes prayers may be just a conversation with God. This is not a bad thing. In fact, the more we grow as a Christian perhaps the more our prayers should be like this. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Rom 8:15) The Aramaic word “Abba” he uses here is said to be more intimate than the more formal “father” that he uses here to translate it. When a person is leading a prayer in public, and therefore speaking for others, such intimacy may not be appropriate. Although the assembly is not strictly for worship, that is one of its functions. The prayers, since they are supposed to be for everyone, should probably be more worshipful. Therefore it is more desirable that a man leading the prayers be more worshipful in his approach to God. In his personal prayers he may address God as “Dad” or “Pops,” but in the assembly it would be more appropriate to give God his props, and save the Abba for private prayer.

In everything we do we should be giving God the respect he deserves. “Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Php 4:20)