Return to main index

G8. Serving, Worshiping, Praising, & Praying to God.    [Make a Comment]

We are to serve, worship, praise, & pray to God.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scriptures


Exodus 23:25 (Maimonides RP5; Chinuch C433)
You are to serve ADONAI your God; and he will bless your food and water. I will take sickness away from among you.

Deuteronomy 6:13 (Maimonides RP5; Meir MP7; Chinuch C433)
You are to fear ADONAI your God, serve him and swear by his name.

Deuteronomy 10:20 (Chinuch C433)
You are to fear ADONAI your God, serve him, cling to him and swear by his name.

Deuteronomy 11:13-14 (Maimonides RP5; Meir MP7; Chinuch C433)
So if you listen carefully to my mitzvot which I am giving you today, to love ADONAI your God and serve him with all your heart and all your being; then, [says ADONAI,] 'I will give your land its rain at the right seasons, including the early fall rains and the late spring rains; so that you can gather in your wheat, new wine and olive oil; ...

Deuteronomy 13:5(4)
You are to follow ADONAI your God, fear him, obey his mitzvot, listen to what he says, serve to him;

Luke 4:8
Yeshua answered him, "The Tanakh says, 'Worship ADONAI your God and serve him only.'"

Romans 12:11
Don't be lazy when hard work is needed, but serve the Lord with spiritual fervor.

Hebrews 12:28
Therefore, since we have received an unshakeable Kingdom, let us have grace, through which we may offer service that will please God, with reverence and fear.


Exodus 7:26(8:1)
ADONAI said to Moshe, "Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, 'Here is what ADONAI says: "Let my people go, so that they can worship me.

Psalm 29:2
... give ADONAI the glory due his name; worship ADONAI in holy splendor.

Psalm 95:5-6
The sea is his - he made it - and his hands shaped the dry land. Come, let's bow down and worship; let's kneel before ADONAI who made us.

Psalm 117:1
Praise ADONAI, all you nations! Worship him, all you peoples!

Matthew 4:8-10 (see also Luke 4:5-8)
Once more, the Adversary took him up to the summit of a very high mountain, showed him all the kingdoms of the world in all their glory, and said to him, "All this I will give you if you will bow down and worship me." "Away with you, Satan!" Yeshua told him, "For the Tanakh says, 'Worship ADONAI your God, and serve only him.'"

John 4:21-24
Yeshua said, "Lady, believe me, the time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Yerushalayim. You people don't know what you are worshipping; we worship what we do know, because salvation comes from the Jews. But the time is coming - indeed, it's here now - when the true worshippers will worship the Father spiritually and truly, for these are the kind of people the Father wants worshipping him. God is spirit; and worshippers must worship him spiritually and truly."

Romans 14:11
... since it is written in the Tanakh, "As I live, says ADONAI, every knee will bend before me, and every tongue will publicly acknowledge God."


Deuteronomy 10:21-22
He is your praise, and he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things, which you have seen with your own eyes. Your ancestors went down into Egypt with only seventy people, but now ADONAI your God has made your numbers as many as the stars in the sky!

Psalm 20:8(7)
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we praise the name of ADONAI our God.

Psalm 30:5(4)
Sing praise to ADONAI, you faithful of his; and give thanks on recalling his holiness.

Psalm 34:2(1)
I will bless ADONAI at all times; his praise will always be in my mouth.

Matthew 5:15-16
Likewise, when people light a lamp, they don't cover it with a bowl but put it on a lampstand, so that it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they may see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.

Romans 15:11
And again, "Praise ADONAI, all Gentiles! Let all peoples praise him!"

Hebrews 13:15
Through him, therefore, let us offer God a sacrifice of praise continually. For this is the natural product of lips that acknowledge his name.

James 5:13b
Is someone feeling good? He should sing songs of praise.


Psalm 122:6a
Pray for shalom in Yerushalayim

Matthew 5:44
But I tell you, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!

Matthew 6:9
You, therefore, pray like this: 'Our Father in heaven! May your Name be kept holy.

Matthew 21:13a
He said to them, "It has been written, 'My house will be called a house of prayer.' ...

Mark 11:24
Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, trust that you are receiving it, and it will be yours.

Romans 12:12
Rejoice in your hope, be patient in your troubles, and continue steadfastly in prayer.

Philippians 4:6
Don't worry about anything; on the contrary, make your requests known to God by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving.

Colossians 4:2
Keep persisting in prayer, staying alert in it and being thankful.

James 5:13a
Is someone among you in trouble? He should pray.

Supportive Scriptures - Serving God

John 12:26
If someone is serving me, let him follow me; wherever I am, my servant will be there too. My Father will honor anyone who serves me.

Hebrews 9:13-14
For if sprinkling ceremonially unclean persons with the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer restores their outward purity; then how much more the blood of the Messiah, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself to God as a sacrifice without blemish, will purify our conscience from works that lead to death, so that we can serve the living God!

See also:

Deuteronomy 28:47-48; Joshua 22:5, 24:14-15; 1 Samuel 12:24; Malachi 3:18; Psalms 2:11; Matthew 6:24, 20:27; Ephesians 6:7; Colossians 3:23-24

Supportive Scriptures - Worshiping God

Isaiah 45:22-25
Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God; there is no other. In the name of myself I have sworn, from my mouth has rightly gone out, a word that will not return - that to me every knee will bow and every tongue will swear about me that only in ADONAI are justice and strength." All who rage against him will come to him ashamed, but all the descendants of Isra'el will find justice and glory in ADONAI.

Psalm 5:8(7)
But I can enter your house because of your great grace and love; I will bow down toward your holy temple in reverence for you.

Philippians 2:9-11
Therefore God raised him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name; that in honor of the name given Yeshua, every knee will bow - in heaven, on earth and under the earth - and every tongue will acknowledge that Yeshua the Messiah is ADONAI - to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 3:3a
For it is we who are the Circumcised, we who worship by the Spirit of God and make our boast in the Messiah Yeshua!

Revelation 4:9-11
And whenever the living beings give glory, honor and thanks to the One sitting on the throne, to the One who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before the One sitting on the throne, who lives forever and ever, and worship him. They throw their crowns in front of the throne and say, "You are worthy, ADONAI Eloheinu, to have glory, honor and power, because you created all things - yes, because of your will they were created and came into being!"

Revelation 5:14
The four living beings said, "Amen!" and the elders fell down and worshipped.

Supportive Scriptures - Praising God

Psalm 95:2
Let's come into his presence with thanksgiving; let's shout for joy to him with songs of praise.

Psalm 135:1
Halleluyah! Give praise to the name of ADONAI! Servants of ADONAI, give praise!

Psalm 150:1-6
Halleluyah! Praise God in his holy place! Praise him in the heavenly dome of his power! Praise him for his mighty deeds! Praise him for his surpassing greatness! Praise him with a blast on the shofar! Praise him with lute and lyre! Praise him with tambourines and dancing! Praise him with flutes and strings! Praise him with clanging cymbals! Praise him with loud crashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise ADONAI! Halleluyah!

Revelation 5:13
And I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth and on the sea - yes, everything in them - saying, "To the One sitting on the throne and to the Lamb belong praise, honor, glory and power forever and ever!"

Revelation 19:5
A voice went out from the throne, saying, "Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great!"

Supportive Scriptures - Praying to God

Genesis 20:17
Avraham prayed to God, and God healed Avimelekh and his wife and slave-girls, so that they could have children.

Genesis 25:21
Yitz'chak prayed to ADONAI on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. ADONAI heeded his prayer, and Rivkah became pregnant.

Numbers 11:2
Then the people cried to Moshe, Moshe prayed to ADONAI, and the fire abated.

Numbers 21:7
The people came to Moshe and said, "We sinned by speaking against ADONAI and against you. Pray to ADONAI that he rid us of these snakes." Moshe prayed for the people, ...

Deuteronomy 9:26b
I prayed to ADONAI; I said, 'Adonai ELOHIM! Don't destroy your people, your inheritance!

Psalm 5:3(2)
Listen to my cry for help, my king and my God, for I pray to you.

Luke 6:12
It was around that time that Yeshua went out to the hill country to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.

James 5:14-16
Is someone among you ill? He should call for the elders of the congregation. They will pray for him and rub olive oil on him in the name of the Lord. The prayer offered with trust will heal the one who is ill - the Lord will restore his health; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, openly acknowledge your sins to one another, and pray for each other, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.


Despite the numerous Scriptures in both the Tanakh and the Kitvey B'rit Chadasha that exemplify and exhort to worship, praise, and prayer, there is no explicit commandment in the Torah that requires any of them. The overall message of Scripture embracing them is unmistakable, however, so the early Rabbis and codifiers of the Law decided to list (in their mitzvah compilations) Scriptures that command giving service to God, and to treat "service" as encompassing prayer. I chose to do something similar in this Mitzvah by joining worship, praise, prayer, and service, and letting "worship" be the umbrella that encompasses the other three. Scripture (in particular Zechariah 4:6, Romans 8:26-27 and Philippians 3:3) is clear that true worship and its components can only be entered into with the power and assistance of the Holy Spirit.

If one understands worship as being a complete giving over of oneself to another, it is easy to see how praise, prayer, and service can be components of worship. It is not always the case, however; whether they are part of, and contribute to worship, depends upon the degree of "giving over", and their intensity. For example, merely complementing someone (praising him) does not constitute worship, and neither does asking an ordinary favor of someone (old English usage of praying), or serving someone as an employee. That notwithstanding, requesting something of a person while continuously praising him, showering him with unsolicited service, and pursuing him with an attitude of submission and adulation, may very constitute worship.

In common modern usage, the word "prayer" is generally understood to mean petitioning God but, as I have indicated, in "old English" usage, it was a request made to anyone. For example, in Job 33:1 (rendered in the King James Version of the Bible) we read of God saying::

Wherefore, Job, I pray thee, hear my speeches, and hearken to all my words.

God was certainly not "praying" to Job as we understand Job to have prayed to God.

Serving another is similar, in that whether or not it constitutes worship depends upon the degree to which the service is rendered and the attitude that accomanies it. We read in 1 Peter 4:10:

As each one has received some spiritual gift, he should use it to serve others, like good managers of God's many-sided grace.

This exhortation to serve others is clearly not an invitation to worship them, whereas Yeshua's answer to Satan in Luke 4:8:

The Tanakh says, 'Worship ADONAI your God and serve him only.'

illustrates how giving service to God does (and should) rise to the level of worship. Serving another with abandon (as a willing slave) is what constitutes worship, and it is only appropriate in our rendering service to God.

An additional word concerning prayer: It has been taught, in certain circles, that Mark 11:24 (and similar Scriptures) can be used as a way of getting God to give us what we want, the theory being that, if we believe for something enough, God will give it to us. It is called "faith" by those who advance this view, but it is a mistake because true faith requires first hearing from God, and then believing and praying for what God wants - not for what we want - unless the two coincide. A Scripture that must be applied when interpreting Mark 11:24 is Jude 1:20:

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith, and pray in union with the Ruach HaKodesh.

Praying in union with the Holy Spirit is the key (see also, Hebrews 11:1).

Classical Commentators

Whereas Maimonides, Meir, and HaChinuch express themselves somewhat differently, they essentially agree that prayer is linked to service. Because they cannot find anything in the Torah explicitly commanding prayer, they treat praying to God and rendering service to God as being essentially the same and only quote Scriptures that command service.

The only reference to worship is found in the caption of Maimonides' Commandment #RP5, as translated by Charles B. Chavel in his two volume work, "The Commandments."1 Meir captions his Commandment #MP7 as "Praying Every Day to God," and HaChinuch captions his Commandment #C433 as "The Precept of Prayer to the Almighty." Despite Chavel's caption, Maimonides does not discuss worshiping God at all, but rather exhorts us only to serving Him and to prayer.

Of the three, Meir is the only one of the commentators that connects praising God to prayer and service. He states that the commandment requires a sequence in addressing God: (1) praising Him; (2) petitioning Him; and (3) both praising and thanking Him. He also says that, in praying to God, it is necessary to do so with "focused intention of the heart." This is known as praying with kavanah.

HaChinuch begins his mitzvah #C433 by referring to the Scriptures commanding that we give service to God, and then quotes Maimonides:

Now, R. Moses b. Maimon of blessed memory wrote: Although this mitzvah is one of the all-inclusive precepts - in other words, those which include the entire Torah, since the service of God includes all the mitzvot - it likewise contains a specific detail: namely, that God commanded us to pray to Him ...

HaChinuch then proceeds to explain our responsibility to pray three times a day, corresponding to the times when sacrifices were conducted in the Temple. He uses the term "prayer services", which links prayer with service, and expresses that predominant Jewish understanding that "prayer services" are meant to give "service" to God. As in the case of the other commentators, HaChinuch does not refer to worship even once.

All three of the commentators, Maimonides, Meir, and HaChinuch, rely on Talmud Bavli Ta'anith 2a as their authority for linking prayer to the Scriptures commanding service to God.

1. Charles B. Chavel, The Commandments, vol. 1, (London: The Soncino Press, 1967).


Return to main index