Category: The Worship Leader


Prayer in Worship

Take a moment to consider the things that you do in your worship service every week. Why is that? Who is making those decisions and why? Is it tradition? Is it a comfort zone? Is it the demand to perform? To have something new and fresh? We could spend a lot of time discussing these things that I would call “micro-worship” issues: things that are small and quickly altered for good or ill.

Now take a step back and un-focus the details. What do you do in your worship service? Teaching? Music? Offering? Prayer? Worship is the act of giving glory to God, responding to his many awesome attributes. All of the things we do in our services reflect that, but most of all prayer because the nature of prayer is worship. How then can we expect to plan the details of a service without first having bathed everyone and everything involved in the baptism of earnest prayer?

Every great movement among God’s people from Adam to present day has begun with honesty and absolute devotion in prayer. Often times this has only happened after a historical period of great difficulty. The exodus of Israel from Egypt and the abolition of the slave trade in Great Britain and the United States respectively come to mind. God moves when his people pray:

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

– 2 Chronicles 7:14

The entirety of our worship is dependent on and comprised of our prayers. Without that kind of preparation our services are empty of meaning and we may as well be singing “Carry on my wayward son…” every Sunday. No matter what your role is in the congregation or on stage this week, set aside a time to pray for the service, those planning it and those who need to be there. Try planning a service without any music or a service full of prayer and songs without any preaching. Be open to going where you have never gone and then leading your people there. Here are a few quotes on prayer:

“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all. Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours.”

– Oswald Chambers

“In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”

– John Bunyan

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Drive for Space

Even when the atmosphere seems perfect, the musicians nail every note and the congregation seems to connect with the music I have sometimes found myself getting very little out of worship.

What I could recognize was that something important was missing, but it escaped me as I went down my “all-is-well” check list to make sure everything was just right. Then it struck me: I was the common denominator.

The thing I was looking for, the thing that was missing in worship was me. Sure, I was physically there, but amidst all the rehearsals and preparation to lead others in worship I forgot to bring myself into worship. But what does that look like? How do we show up to worship as we ask others to do each week?

In order to lead by example we must understand what steps we must take to bring ourselves before God in worship. The act of worship is a transaction with God, or an exchange rather than just an encounter. I mean, what do we expect from an encounter with God? We can’t encounter him without getting something from it. Likewise, we can’t receive anything unless we give up what we are already carrying. If our hearts don’t show up and we don’t let go of every circumstance, worry or private sin then we will leave worship unchanged, unaware of the presence of God in our lives and slaves of our own desires.

In defensive driving you are taught to “drive for space.” The concept is simple in theory but often hard to execute. If we concentrate on not  hitting the car next to us then all we see is that car and we tend to go where we are looking. Instead, focusing on the empty space around us keeps us off the collision course with large or immovable objects. This principle is emphasized in scripture, especially regarding temptations. For example, Paul tells Timothy to flee youthful lusts and instead pursue purity and righteousness. It’s not enough to just sit there and resist sin because that sin is all we will think about. Instead we have to acknowledge the temptation and give it up to focus on Christ.

That focused pursuit of Christ is best described as worship. That is how we need to show up in worship.

Let go of everything so that you can take hold of Him.