You’ve probably experienced it before – a worship service where the Spirit of God seems especially present. Everyone seems to be of the same mind, singing and worshiping together, and the presence of God seems to fill the room. How do these times happen? Does it have something to do with us and our preparation, or is it simply a special time of blessing from God? The answer is simpler than you might think.
You probably think I’m going to say something about the worship team being prepared and removing distractions during the worship time, but that’s not what I’m getting at. Or maybe you think I will talk about how people should come on Sunday morning with their hearts ready to sing out and participate, but that’s not quite it either. The answer is this: every great worship time begins with individual worship.
Throughout the years as a worship leader, I’ve come to learn that I generally affect the corporate worship experience a lot less than I think I do. Worship is primarily spiritual; it centers on an individual hearing from God and responding to Him. If this is happening in each person’s heart when we come together, then an out of tune note or a set of missing lyrics matters very little. When you hear from God, all the externals around you seem to fade because you know that He’s there. When it happens across an entire congregation, that’s when you can feel it in the air. The “best” worship set is one where everyone is individually worshiping God, which in turn allows us to be corporately of one spirit.
Music, ambiance, and song selection all help to organize corporate worship, but they are like lined paper to an author’s pen. God is the writer. He will say what He wants better than we could ever say them. He will stir our hearts more than the most eloquent worship leader can. That’s the power of everyone tuning in to the same Spirit.
I like to think back to Moses and Miriam’s song in Exodus 15. What was it like the very first time it was sung? Did Moses sit down and write the words out, or was it more of a spontaneous leading of the Lord? Did he take the time to teach the rest of the Israelites the words and melody, or did Moses sing out each line and have them repeat after him? The passage simply says this:
“When Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses. Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the Lord,” (Exodus 14:31-15:1)
I’m going to venture a guess and say that the first performance of this song was pretty chaotic. It was likely done with no practice, and featured whatever instrument was on hand at the time (later Miriam led the women with timbrels). As unprepared as the externals may have seemed, the opposite was true inside the Israelites’ hearts. God had been intricately and lovingly preparing each heart for worship. Israel had seen the Lord work and were responding to Him in unity of spirit.
We can do the same every Sunday. Let’s all tune in to the same Spirit and receive what the Lord has for us.
Worship leader, Elder
Grace Christian Church