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The Difference Between Worship and Praise

Updated on February 7, 2021
Cheryl E Preston profile image

Cheryl enjoys writing poetry related to her personal faith in Christ and the things she had observed in life.

Praise is different than worship

The words "praise and worship" are often used interchangeably in many churches, but they are two vastly different experiences. In secular terms, praise can be likened to dancing to upbeat, fast music. It's designed to get you on your feet and moving to the beat. Years ago I heard a pastor say that praise music is for those who enter a church not being in right standing with the Lord. He said leaders should be prayed up and focused, ready to serve but life gets in the way. Praise music helps to shake off the cares of the world and prepare one's heart for true worship. In this church, the praise team would sing two or three fast, upbeat songs that the congregation could clap and dance to and then came time to worship.

During praise music, some people danced in the aisle and a few would run around the church. Some churches only have praise songs but say they are worshiping the Lord. The service never gets into the intimacy that is available from worship. The worship music, however, again in secular terms, made things more intimate. Those who have been to dances, parties, or night clubs know that when a slow song comes on, the lights go down. Couples dance in each other's arms and or cheek to cheek. Worship brings in an intimate cheek to cheek moment with the Lord. During such services, people close their eyes, lift their hands, bow, or even fall on their knees. Men and women cry because they are feeling the presence of their Creator enter the room and flow through them. Some people even go to the altar and lay prostrate because they are full of the joy of the Lord. There were many times this pastor did not preach. The praise team sang worship songs and we just enjoyed His presence. The order of service went out the door.

Worship is powerful

Intimacy in worship

Not every worship experience is the same. Two different people, choirs or praise teams can sing the same song and the level of His glory that fills the room can be nonexistent or overwhelming. The minstrel who is playing the keyboard and the individuals who are in the music ministry play a role as well. If you have a group of congregants, singers, and musicians who truly love the Lord, who have been praying and fasting all week, they will come to church ready to worship and not need the praise music to get them in the mood. If more people are not spiritually in tune with the Lord this can cause a decrease in His presence.

I belonged to a church where an average of 300 people was in attendance each week. Many times, after the pastor, did the benediction and said amen, the praise team would continue to sing worship songs. Most congregants left the building but a core group of about 25 to 30 people remained. At these times the presence of the Lord would show up stronger than when the building had been full. The level of intimacy seemed to increase when the congregation decreased.

Once after service, the praise team was singing "We Exalt Thee" and the pastor was seated on the steps in front of the pulpit. Twelve men went to the altar and fell on their knees. There were about 15 additional people in the sanctuary. As the praise team sang the Spirit of the Living God fell fresh on us all. A good friend and I fell on the floor with our faces down and the love of the Lord was so strong in us we began to cry. The sanctuary became hazy and the glory of the Lord filled the room.

Instrumental worship

Power in true worship

Years ago I belonged to an Intercessory prayer group at the church I attended. We met at 5:30 AM, Monday through Friday. The elder who was head of the group arrived early and had worship music playing. There usually were five to 10 people in average attendance and there was no need to get us ready with praise music. We walked into the building and could feel His presence. Many times the music would be instrumental and we would not even pray. Without a song being sung or a word spoken, we would just fall on our knees and soak up His presence.

There is so much power in true worship. My husband and I as well as others we know have simply sat in His glory and had our minds renewed and our bodies healed. During worship, the focus is totally on the love of Christ and the power of His Holy Spirit. While it is true that there may be people faking experiences, or entertaining other spirits, I am a witness that He is real and will reveal Himself to those who simply want Him.

One of the most renowned worship songs around the world is "Shout to the Lord." It was sung on American Idol and even the judges seemed moved. Worship music does not have lyrics that talk about climbing the rough side of the mountain, or how bad life is. Worship music is not about getting a blessing and a due season of prosperity. True worship is songs that talk about His love, power, might, and sacrifice on the cross. Listen to the songs on the video's in this article and you will begin to understand the difference between praise and worship. If the music moves your body, it's praise. If the songs usher in His presence and cause you to feel reverent, loved and full of His joy, it's worship.

Word, keys and chords make a difference

The keys and chords utilized in songs make all the difference. Consider Leonard Cohen who was not a Christian but wrote and performed the song "Hallelujah." Many have said the haunting melody has moved them without understanding why. The song has a feel of worship without giving any glory to the Lord. Cloverton recorded a Christmas version and changed the lyrics to talk about the birth and resurrection of Christ, the music then held a deeper meaning for believers as it honored the one who Created us all. This morning February 7, 2021, I watched a television broadcast of a local minister who basically preached this entire article. The Father is still seeking those who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth.


The keys and chords on musical instruments have amazing power to elicit responses from the human psyche. Music can make us cry, laugh, put us in the mood for romance or even instill fear. True worship music goes beyond the mind, will, and emotions and moves the spirit. This is why during worship experiences people will shout "Glory to God, or Hallelujah. Once you have experienced His presence, your spirit will be hungry and thirsty for more and you will find your own Hallelujah worship.

Enjoy personal worship

Enjoy your own worship experiences

A worship experience is not limited to a church service or prayer gathering. You can select the music that brings His presence to you and listen to the songs of your choice in your home or vehicle. When you do this on a regular basis, His glory will surround you. His presence is strong in those who are true worshippers but not everyone understands. Church folk may ask if you are a preacher, and non-believers may simply say there is something different about you. This will have you in a position to walk into a church service ready for intimacy, without the need for praise songs to get you in the mood. You will already be there.


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