Intimacy in Worship
We're aiming at teens to twenties with what we do and we got to a point recently where we're thinking 'well what should the music be like?... should we have to do all this drum programming and dance stuff?'. We were struggling with that for quite a while. The thing that came out of that was the Lord said to me that you've got to do what's on your heart, and you've got to be real. In the end worship can never be a performance, something you're pretending to do or putting on. It's got to be an overflow of your heart; play what comes out of your heart.
Worship is about being real with God. You notice how many of the Psalms are not just thanksgiving and joyful things but also times of saying 'Lord where are You?', just crying out from a hunger and a thirst and a dependence in God.
Intimacy in worship is about getting personal with God, drawing close to God. Obviously we revere Him as King and we fear Him as Lord... we bow down before our Creator. But the Lord has said we can draw close to Him. In the New Testament one of the most commonly used words for worship is the word 'proscunio' (Greek word). It's used 66 times and means 'to come towards to kiss', this may seem irreverent; but in that culture it was used a lot to describe when a hound would lick his masters hand. You have the picture of reverence, but within that reverence there's a closeness... to come towards to kiss.
Intimacy in worship is not about warm fuzzy feelings; it's far more about self disclosure; it's about you sharing the secret things of your heart with God, and coming close to Him; you tell God things that you would never tell another person. In that place of closeness and intimacy God shares His heart with us, there's an exchange. In John 15:15 Jesus says 'I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his masters business. Instead I call you friends; because everything I have learnt from the Father I have revealed to you.' He's talking about closeness there, He's saying you're the friend of God now; and that friendship is about Me telling you about the Father, its about Me sharing the things of God with you.
There are some things that you'll tell everyone and there are some things that you'll only tell your friends. With God it's like that. In a sense there are different levels of revelation. To the whole of mankind He's revealed creation. In Romans 1 it says that man is without excuse because all that has been revealed to them. There's maybe a second level of revelation with the cross, because in Corinthians it tells us that to some people the cross is just a load of foolishness, but to us who have been saved it is the power of God. As we becomes friends of God He reveals more and more in those times of closeness and intimacy.
If you're close to someone you need to whisper, you don't need to shout. But on the other hand there's still a time for shouting; an intimate song isn't always a slow or quiet song.
We're pursuing a breadth in our worship; because of the nature and character of God. So wide, broad, and with so many different aspects and facets to Him, we need to respond in lots of different ways.
There's a sense in which the prophetic flows from that place of Intimacy. You have to be close to God to hear His voice... He speaks with a whisper. He maybe shouts to His enemies but to His friends He whispers. If you want to sing, play or dance prophetically, it has to come out of place which is close to God.. where you hear His voice, you become His spokesperson.
The prophetic is that which reveals Jesus. In Revelation it tells us that the spirit of prophecy is "the" testimony of Jesus, it's that which reveals Jesus. We often think of the prophetic about revealing the future; but the prophetic is far more about revealing Jesus. The heart of the prophetic, the heart of God is to reveal Jesus. That can come about in so many different ways; you could reveal the heart of God through dance, a spontaneous song - 'a song of the Lord'. The effect of that spontaneity is that people are drawn closer to Jesus.
The prophetic could be that you really feel to play a song one day, an old song maybe, but you feel this is the song the for tonight; and you play it and it is the song for tonight That's prophetic, something happened there which revealed Jesus; it brought us into His Presence more and more... it revealed the heart of God. We mustn't fall into the trap of thinking that the prophetic is just one thing... silence could be prophetic. You hear the voice of God and you act in such a way that it brings people closer to Jesus. Prophetic playing may bring a time of intercession or compassion for the lost, but the effect is always ultimately to glorify Jesus.
Prophetic worship is not a new thing; the Psalms are great example of prophetic worship, they revealed the future and they also revealed Jesus. In 2 Kings 3:15 Elisha said, "Bring me a harpist, and while the harpist was playing the hand of the Lord came upon Elisha." People may have experienced that in a meeting; all you're doing is playing and it's revealing the Lord; the Presence of the Lord is being ushered in... just through playing.
Just in the same way that God speaks through creation; you see a lovely landscape and you think 'now I know there's a God, I can sense Him speak through these things'. It's the same in music; you can hear Him speak through music which is just another part of creation. God created it for His glory and His honour but it can be used in many different ways; even sometimes when someone is not playing it for the glory of God (example Dave Gilmore with Pink Floyd playing a big guitar solo) it points you towards the Lord. How much more so, we who are saved, with our music point people towards the Lord; usher them into His Presence. It allows peoples minds and their hearts and their spirits be stirred, even by the music alone. Again in the Old Testament; I Chronicles 25:3 it talks about Jeduthun's sons. It says they prophesied using the harp, thanking and praising the Lord.
It doesn't always have to be spontaneous. You maybe preparing for the meeting and you write a little song, and that song will only ever get sung in that meeting; it seems to be the song of the moment.. addressing something that is on the Lord's heart for that night
Sometimes we're just playing along, the worship time is just normal; and then into the worship leaders mind, or a dancer or musician, comes something. And because that's the thing on the Lord's heart for that moment, and that's how He's chosen to reveal Himself, suddenly something happens... there's a dynamic... you change gears as it were; you find yourself even deeper in the Lord's Presence.
A prophetic word will break through into your life. In the same way prophetic songs, dance, music will cause a breakthrough in a time of worship. People sit up and listen when you prophesy over them, a change occurs. It's the same in worship. People get ushered into the Lord's Presence through the prophetic in our playing or in our words. That's what we should be aiming for. Our aim is to put people in touch with God.
Playing or singing prophetically is like walking a tight rope; sometimes all I have is a line in my head and I think 'OK then, here we go'. The thing about walking a tight rope is that you mustn't look down. In the same way when stepping out in the prophetic keep look 'straight ahead' towards God. Keep focusing on the Lord, focusing towards Jesus. I keep my eyes shut personally, because there will always be a few people giving you a weird look. lf you lookdown and worry about falling you probably will.
The Bible says we only see in part when we prophecy. One day we'll see in full. Often with the prophetic we won't understand the whole of what we're singing or be consciously cognizant that we're not seeing the whole picture.
I was in Norway once and in the middle of the worship time I felt the Lord put the Michael Jackson song 'You are not alone, I am here with you' into my head. So I sang this song out and at the end of it I felt 'Oh no, what have I done', I thought - at least I'm in Norway, we'll be going home in a couple of days'. At the end of that I felt 'that was not from the Lord... your a prat.'. But then this lady comes up to me at the end and says 'I've been desperate for the Lord, I've been crying out for him and I came tonight In the car I said to God I felt so alone, where are You... You're not with me.'. That seemed to be the heart of God for that day... God will often leave the 99 to go after the 1.
"What way can we cultivate a prophetic lifestyle ?"
In all that you do search after God... if God's speaking to you, act upon it Expose yourself to the Word of God, that's the truth. Too much Word and you dry up, too much Spirit and you blow up, Word and Spirit and you grow up. There has to something to draw on... and that's the Word of God.
"How can a secular guitar solo draw you closer to God?'"
In Matthew 5 Jesus says that the Lord rains on the righteous and the unrighteous. Music is to the soul what wind is to a ship, blowing her onwards in the direction she Is already facing. I walked round national gallery recently and saw paintings that were on a religious theme but were not painted by Christians. But these paintings still spoke to me.
"How do we start to prophecy in our times of worship?"
Start off in the private place, in practices. Cultivate it when everyone's not watching. Allow time at the end of rehearsals. In a larger setting of a meeting its like the tight rope, you have to take that first step. If in doubt, make sure that it's really burning in you.
Matt Redman is a singer / song writer / worship leader who lives in North London. He leads worship at two churches. The first is St. Andrews, Chorley Wood; an Anglican Church with an emphasis towards family based worship. The second is a Soul Survivor Church which is geared mainly towards young people. He has written and released several albums and is one of the main driving forces behind Soul Survivor and the Soul Survivor youth weeks.