I have been reflecting recently on how the worship styles in the different churches we have been involved in have been quite different. From reciting liturgy to singing songs that focus on what I get from God and on myself, to giving worth to God the Most High. Over the last 5 decades, Hubby and I have been involved in the Brethren Church, Salvation Army, Methodist (now Uniting Church), Baptist, Churches of Christ, and Pentecostal churches. During this time, I have also seen various changes in the churches we have been a part of with song styles from hymns, Scripture in Song choruses, songs of justice, songs focusing on the awe and worth of God, Hillsong music, Bethel music, and songs concentrating largely on my identity in God.
In my reflection, I am tossing around the idea that our song writing illustrates our view of God. If we are writing songs, and then singing songs, about how God sees us, that reflects our view of God. If we are writing and singing songs giving God the worth that He desires, that reflects a different view of God. If we are writing and singing songs about the nations and that translating across indigenous groups, that reflects yet another dimension of God. Simply put, are we singing songs that focus on the awe of God, the love of God, the fear of God or on reminding ourselves who we are to God?
Soren Kierkegaard, a theologian, said that worship is a performance with the congregation being the performers and God the audience. “Worship happens most fully when the community gathers to encounter the living God and respond with everything we’ve got.”
First of all, worship is about God. It’s less about you than you may think. It’s not so much about you coming and getting filled up or coming and hearing what you need to hear. That’s not to say that worship has nothing to do with those things, but they are mostly by-products of worship, not the goal of worship. What we get out of worship has more to do with our response which always follows an encounter with God. Worship is first and foremost about God.
Arthur Burk (http://www.theslg.com) describes some dreams he has about worship in his youtube video titled “Egyptian Depression”. He says that worship is an antidote to depression and encourages listeners in the 20.18 minute video to dream about ways you would love to worship God. He listed three himself – John G. Lake, when he was in South Africa during a service, went into a trance for 20 minutes. During this time, his spirit flew to Wales where a member of the audience’s daughter was in an Asylum. He apparently prayed for her, God healed her and his spirit flew back. Another of Arthur’s dreams is in utter quiet and stillness on a lake. Yet another in a lighthouse in the midst of a winter storm in the Atlantic Ocean and being able to experience God as the strong tower talked about in Proverbs 18:10.
Personally I love walking along the beach on a stormy day and hearing the waves crashing near me and feeling God’s love crashing continually in on me and singing hymns of worship to God. I realise that I best hear God when I am in motion, not standing or sitting still. On my morning walk, or in the shower, basically whenever I am moving I tend to experience and hear God more. I also love the strong tower image from Proverbs 18:10 and often imagine God as a strong tower and I am running in to Him. Others love soaking to music whilst lying still on the floor and become immersed in experiencing God then. Others in different aspects of nature. My hubby prefers being in the bush and hearing God clearly there. Others love driving their car and experiencing intimacy with God then. Others find beautiful times of worship and intimacy with God when painting or being creative. Others love the comfy chair where they commune daily with God. Most nights my friend offers her spirit to God for Him to take her where he needs her most, protect her from anything not of God and for the Holy Spirit to guide her. She has been to Syria, North Korea and various other places, ministering to folk, much like John G. Lake did.
What are your dreams of worship, of completely abandoning yourself to God and His goodness and experiencing Him in a fresh new way and experiencing that new characteristic of God that you know about in your head but haven’t truly experienced in your heart? I encourage you to explore various ways this week.
Prophetic Activations / Exercises to incorporate into your week:
The purpose of these exercises is to help us hear God’s voice in a clearer manner. They sharpen our senses to hear and recognise God’s voice and His way of communicating with us. This enables us to grow in our relationship with God and also to impart to others what God tells us for them. Feel free to use as many of these activations each week as you can. The more you practice, the sharper you become at hearing God’s voice. Enjoy!
Remember that whenever you give another person a prophetic word or picture etc, please make sure that it is encouraging, edifying (strengthening) and comforting (1 Corinthians 14:3) and that it comes from a place of love.
1. Children / Families Activation: Spend a few moments worshiping God and then pray and ask God to show everyone present where His angels are in the room, what they look like and what they are doing. Then get everyone to share. (Children usually can see in the spirit realm if they haven’t been shut down by adults dismissing what they have seen in the past. I will never forget my son on Remembrance Day in Australia which is where we have a national day of pausing and remembering fallen soldiers, sharing how during worship in church he saw angels dressed in army gear standing side by side all around the coastline of Australia protecting the gold that was within Australia. At that stage he had no idea it was Remembrance Day.)
2. Group Activation: Spend some time in worship as a group and then ask God to open everyone’s spiritual eyes to see what He is doing in the room or what is happening in the room in the spiritual realm. For those having difficulty with this, encourage them to begin to imagine some angels coming into the room and what they may look like and be doing etc. Then ask people to share and note any similarities and look for what you need to do next ie if someone sees angels bringing healing, then it would be appropriate to follow this time with praying for people to be healed.
3. Beginner Activation: Spend some time this week reflecting where you most easily hear and experience God and where you also most love worshiping God. Experiment and see if there is perhaps a new area or new environment or way of encountering God this week. Try and discover the place you most clearly hear God’s voice and feel His comfort.
4. Intermediate Activation: Think of a current concern you have. Spend a few moments worshiping God, giving Him worth. Then imagine approaching the throne room of heaven and taking that concern with you and handing it to God and asking for His perspective on it. Wait and encounter all that God wants to give you.
5. Advanced Activation: Spend some time dreaming with God and asking Him to give you a new song. Ask for His music, rhythm, words. Sing it back to God.