Worship 2: The intimacy of worship
Spurred on by Rob’s comment on my last blog on worship – “Worship mingled with revelation” – I wanted to begin to extend upon the subject of worship into what could perhaps become a series on the subject!
I’m kind of excited about the prospect, as worship is a subject that I have been passionate about for a number of years now – passionate that is, in terms of having more than just the usual interest in and devotion to worship that Christians might have.
A large part of what the Lord has been doing in me is to do with what I will be addressing in this blog – what He stirred up in me with regard to intimacy has affected a large part of how I come to the whole issue of worship generally, from leading at the front to worshiping in my bedroom.
It started when I began to get into the habit of taking time just with my keyboard to worship the Lord freely, often not trying to go for any particular worship song, but rather just singing out of my heart to the Lord. I must have been doing this for over two years now, and if you can play piano or guitar or just sing, it is a great thing to do. The presence of the Lord would become much more real to me during these times of worship.
But I had a problem. Often the experience of worshipping in His presence ignited creativity. This is a good thing; the problem was my desire to start writing songs down! I would be playing away and would find myself singing something, and my mind would say “Ooh, this is great, we should make this into a song to record and use in church and stuff” and I would stop and write things down and start working out more lyrics and chords and a tune… but by that time I had lost the flow of worship, and the presence of the Lord would start to lift. I obviously felt this was a shame but the Lord helped me to profoundly recognise something.
As I have said, the great tunes and words that I was finding in these spontaneous times of worship were all good – it is creativity inspired by His presence. However my desire to write these things down was evidence – in a sense – of a man-pleasing attitude in me, a desire to have something great to bring to the congregation. Now, I’m not averse to creativity, in fact I would love to spend more time to promote the subject. But there is a matter of priority to address. As great as bringing creative songs to the church is, it is secondary to my actual worship of the Lord!
There were times when I would get frustrated because I would afterwards forget the great lyric and/or melody I had been singing, and so I could not write it down. It was here that the Lord graciously chided me and helped reorder my priorities: worship is first for the Lord. He made it evident to me that it was silly to get worried about not having written the song down after it had already served its purpose.
Picture it: if I am worshipping the Lord, one on one, out of a heart-flow of worship, and out comes a song no-one has ever heard, what do I need to worry? The Lord is hearing it and loves it! It was born for Him out of my heart in union with His creative Spirit, and as it comes back to Him it blesses Him to receive it from one of His children. If He and I were the only ones to ever hear the melody, chords and lyrics, surely I should enjoy the intimacy of that. There are things only husbands and wives know about each other because of their closeness, and we can enjoy that same preciousness with the Lord.
Before I conclude I want to say two things, 1. I hope that what I have written is abundantly clear, and 2. (and maybe this should have come as number 1) As a disclaimer: I am not against songwriting. I am not against writing out of a creative flow of worship to the Lord. All I want to say is this, that we need to be careful about interupting our times with the Lord. Sometimes I believe He gives the go-ahead to write songs out of these times of worship, and I have done this sometimes. But on other occasions He might just want to spend time with us and take things in a different direction. Our walk with the Lord is all about relationship, not religion. That is why I have no problem saying we need to be prophetic pretty much all the time – it is the same as in any other relationship: we cultivate continual development and different dynamics of relationship with pretty much everyone we know, obviously to different degrees. The Lord is a person not a computer, so don’t tap in your formula thinking you know what will come out. He hates religion.
To wrap up then, and to hopefully clarify once and for all what I am saying: worship is for the Lord. If I have sung a song to Him and no one else has heard it, what does that matter? He has heard it and is pleased, and I’ve got a feeling that the Lord will take some time in heaven with each of us to go through those moments again that were so precious to Him because we shared them with no one else. Just like when a husband and wife might say to each other, “Do you remember when…?” But on the other hand there are times when the fruit of our worship is free to be released as corporate songs of worship, or as part of an album or something. We must prioritise and put Him first, as Jesus said, that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength, and that the second commandment was to love our neighbours as ourselves. When we have our priorities right, then He can use us most fruitfully in those things that will bless our neighbours, because we are blessing Him first in our lives!
As a postscript, this is not a blog about songwriting! It is a blog about intimacy! So if you have something to say about songwriting, wait until I blog on it, because I have other ways of writing songs except just in these creative worship times!