A Worship Time or
A Time to Worship?
Towards the end of 2012 I began to sense more and more that God was encouraging me, as part of my leadership role at Beacon House of Prayer, to draw together worship leaders and musicians for 24 hours of unbroken worship; to gather together those who had a heart to bring an offering to God, regardless of who else might listen and join in. I didn't want to greatly advertise it, but just to connect those together who had a passion to lift Him up and bring an offering, just for Him.
The result was a wonderful, rich, diverse palate of worship and praise that was vocal and musical, but most importantly heart connected and vertical.
For me, there's been a tension often between being up front and leading others in worship whilst making sure that the focus is God and not the music, the style, or the content. I'm blessed to be in a place where there is much flexibility and opportunity to sense where the Holy Spirit is leading and aiming to follow.
There's something powerful about the joining of our hearts and voices together in corporate worship; about bringing a united expression and declaration of our praises. The potential issue can be that the focus turns to the song, to the music or even sometimes to the team, the presentation, or whether we like the style or not. All this can be a distraction.
I've personally been so aware of the power of music on the emotions; how songs can draw us into a place that may not be where God might be leading, but purely an atmosphere. This is not to say that God isn't in our emotions, but a 'check' on whether it's connected to Him or the music is needed.
The goal for me is bringing something that takes us on a journey of worship and takes us to a deeper place of connection with God. If you're a worship leader or musician reading this, then let me just say that I believe our aim is to draw hearts and welcome God's presence and then to get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit move.
When we gather together as a body to worship, it should really be an overflow of our daily walk and relationship and not the start and end! If our private worship place is right, then it's likely our public worship place is too. It's very hard to have it the other way around.
We often use this phrase, 'we are going to now enter into a time of worship'. Early followers of Jesus would have no idea what we were talking about! To them everything was worship. The way they lived and for some even the way they died. Every day, hour, minute was an opportunity to worship God. I'm sure this is what God is looking for and what He loves to see when He gazes upon us.
For a long time I've held Psalm 63 as a real target. It's not a place I'm at yet, but is a real desire. David was talking here about every moment being offered to Him. I'm including the text here, because it's really worth praying out as an act of submission and desire to encounter Him more. I'm asking this again today too as I type in the words.
'You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:1-8.
Elsewhere in John 4:23, the scripture speaks about the sort of worship Father God is looking for; truthful and authentic. It really isn't about a worship time, but about our lives laid out before him in every moment.
In my city of Stoke on Trent, we are learning the reality that full time ministry to God is for every person, in every place. Yes it is about the ordained minister, pastor, leader, but it is also in equal measure about you, today, wherever you work, study, raise up family and do life.
Let these places be where we bring our offering of worship and praise and we will know His presence there because our attention to Him draws His attention to us. It becomes a place of Heaven to earth connection.
Don't save your worship for the next meeting, or even your next quiet time. Bring it now in your everyday living