So that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. —Romans 15:6
Our aim should be to glorify God and edify the soul of every person present. It's easy to talk about glorifying God, but what does it mean? To glorify God means to please Him. We must continually ask ourselves this very searching question: when we meet together to worship God, is it our aim to please Him or to please ourselves?
I know that the answer here can be "both," and in the end that is true. But we will never succeed in pleasing God until we forget about ourselves. With worship, we want to bring joy to God. However, it is not for us to try to decide what will please God. God has already decided what kind of worship He wants. Worship that pleases Him must be "by the Spirit of God."
"Well," someone may say, "if I'm going to worship God by His Spirit, then I'm not really doing anything. It's just God doing it for Himself. But I want to please Him by showing Him what I can do." But anyone who talks like this does not know God, because God doesn't want what we can do. He has already decided what He wants, and we must decide whether we are going to worship in His way.
Our aim in worship must be to please God, but the aim of worship is also to edify the soul of every person present. The key word here is every person. God is worshiped not just when we do certain things right, but when we are edified—that is, when our spirits are fed with His Word, so that we reach out to Him in repentance, gratitude, and trust. He is glorified when we worship Him with our understanding, not when we intone, parrot-fashion, words.
Excerpted from Worshipping God (Hodder & Stoughton, 2004).