When I worship, I try to open up a conversation between me and God. I praise Him for all He is, and all He has done in my life. I glorify Him with my song and my heart. And then I reflect and meditate on Him, and listen to what He has for me. Often this can be incredibly fulfilling, and uplifting, and convicting, as he speaks deep into my heart and fills it with His love.
When leading worship, I endeavour to do the same thing. To be a worship leader, first and foremost, I need to be worshipping. But secondly, I need to lead both the musicians, but also (and more importantly) the congregation, so that they can enter this conversation with God for themselves.
Like any conversation, it needs to be balanced. We can have our say, through the words in the songs that we sing. But we also need to be aware that God is waiting for His chance to speak into our lives. It’s only when we have space in the worship song to just be, without worry of the song or the words, that we can focus and hear what He has to say.
Too often, we rush through a song; verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus twice, end. And that is our worship. Finished. Get in, get out, as quick as you like. But we miss the conversation. We miss out on what the divine creator wants to input into our lives. And who would want to miss that?
So to allow this conversation to take place, as a worship leader, I need to think about the space I am creating. Is it delicate enough that the still, small, voice can penetrate into our lives? Is it void of distractions that can wisp us away from hearing what God has to say to us? Is it long enough for us to focus away from ourselves and listen to Him?
For me, this realisation of space in worship came about because of this song. In it, some say the space is too vast, that it becomes boring or tedious. But take a moment and reflect. If God had something to say to you, wouldn’t you want that space? Wouldn’t you need that space?
The song is This is Our God by Hillsong. Have a listen. Think about how they create the space throughout the song, and allow for the worshippers to connect with their God, before once again lifting up their praise to Him.
This is Our God
It’s interesting, in a purely human term, thinking about the dynamics in this song. With this song, everyone knows that the “Freely You gave” bridge is coming. Everyone loves it. Too often I’ve seen worship leaders rush into it, and it loses its flare. It loses its impact, because we haven’t invested in creating that space. Whether God speaks to us or not, the anticipation of being able to sing that bridge to the one we love is what makes it work. When we rush through to it, it loses everything we are expecting.
It’s a bit like Watching the World Cup final. If you just watched the last 10 minutes, it wouldn’t be nearly as fulfilling, as dramatic, as tense, or as painful, compared to enduring and watching the entire match.
So take your time. Create the space. Enjoy the space. Don’t stand there looking at the musicians wondering what they’re doing when they head into a musical interlude. Turn your focus from singing songs to worshipping God. Expect to hear from Him. Close your eyes as the instrumental occurs. Ask God to speak to you. And as the music fades into the background, and His words fill your heart, and soul, and mind, you can begin to fully experience what this thing called worship is, and what I strive for every single time I come to worship; both with the Church, and individually.