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Spontaneous Worship

Our Lord Jesus tells us that the Father is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth!  John 4:23-24

 

It is not uncommon that when a person first experiences an expression of spontaneous worship that there will arise a deep cry from the depths of their being that goes something like this; "I'm not sure I understand all that I am seeing, hearing and experiencing right now but I feel a strong presence of God's Spirit stirring up a desire to express that same kind of simple freedom in worshiping Him as I am seeing expressed around me right now. I want to worship Him with just such abandonment in my own heart." 

 

 

You will find here a few thoughts for your prayerful consideration concerning  spontaneous worship. I share from personal experience in worship after pursuing the heart of Lord Jesus as a worshipper for over 38 years. May the love of God and the direction of His precious Holy Spirit guide you as you prayerfully consider what is written here. My desire is to convey three main thoughts where spontaneous worship is concerned. These thoughts I believe will help us in anchoring our approach to worship, both in the spiritual sense in our worship unto God (through the release of music, song, dance, art, etc.) and also in the practical expression of our worship in how we conduct our everyday lives.

 

 

1)  Intimacy

In the early years of my walking with God I remember singing songs in church about God, or singing songs that were encouragements to live a better life. Even as a young boy I found my spirit within me hungry to communicate directly with my Maker and Lord. I wanted to sing to God and I longed to respond to Him out of the depths of my heart with a desire for Him to reveal more of His heart to me.

 

Intimacy in worship is one of the foundations of spontaneous worship in both music and song unto the Lord. It first began in my heart in private personal worship at home and then began to carry it into christian coffee houses in the early 70s, after that to house church settings where people met in homes and even into some larger congregational settings in later years. It was a spontaneous release of heart felt worship that is right for any gathering of people who gathered because they were hungry to meet with God and be in His presence.

 

Personal spontaneous worship is earmarked by songs that are simple expressions of love and devotion. Since this is so, it will most likely begin in ones heart during private worship and then began to be expressed in larger gathering where believer meet as the Holy Spirit is given room for such expression.

 

Intimacy in a "limited" sense means we sing to God rather than just about Him. In an unlimited sense intimacy means we live our whole lives in the very presence of God. If we give ourselves away to other loves, to other gods, we will lose our intimate fellowship with God, or we will end up trying to produce it in a way that is without much depth which in turn becomes an empty encounter for both God and us. We cannot spend our entire week in pursuit of the things of the world and then wonder why our worship when we gather as a congregation feels hollow and unsatisfying.

 

There are many biblical accounts of intimate hearts who abandonment worship such as the woman in Luke 7 who worshiped intimately as she poured perfume on the feet of Jesus. David is another example who while looking after the sheep would sit out in the fields and sing intimate songs to the Lord. He continued to do the same when he became king of the nation of Israel and danced the clothes off his back before the eyes of the entire nation. Intimacy with Jesus in our worship is what we are called to and we soon discover that all fruitfulness flows from our intimacy with Him who our hearts so love. Intimate union with Him will always be our highest calling and aim in this life as well as the one to come only then the power and intensity of it will be increased to the thousandth power.


 

2)  Purity of heart

It's evident that people are expecting trustworthiness in all of life, whether it be in our home, the church, our work or business, or in the government. People today seem to be not quite so willing to separate the private lives of an individual from their public life.

 

Just what does this have to do with worship? Purity of heart means everything to God and it means everything to us. Purity simply means wholesomeness or transparency; its the condition of having an undivided consistency between our inward and our outward life. It's who we are and the way we live both in private and in public that count before God . . . That's the kind of people our heavenly Father is looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before Him in their worship. (John 4 "The Message")

 

God loves our worship when we are ourselves, and when we live our whole lives as lovers of God. When it's time to gather together with other believers to worship, we desire to be those who are of a pure heart as they will be the ones who will see God in their worship. In seeing Him we are thereby transformed by the bread of His presence as we allow God to embrace us and lavish His love on us. We will then find ourselves desiring to be continually in His presence and give out to others what He has fed us in this intimacy with Him.

 

As we begin to venture into the realms of God and discover spontaneous worship the beginning we need a place that feels safe. It is important to be surrounded by those who will embrace us and encourage us to open ourselves up to God and in opening up to Him we then begin to open up to each other. This is where our worship spills over into body life day in and day out. Because of the fullness we experience in our deep passionate worship of Him we find that our lives are not lives of pretence. Instead we begin to find consistency whether we encounter one another in a corporate setting of worship with other believers or in everyday challenges as we live out our lives before the world. A genuine supernatural naturalness begins to create a freedom for us to more fully express our worship in abandonment and without reservation to our Lord.

 

As we begin to venture into the realms of God and discover spontaneous worship the beginning we need a place that feels safe. It is important to be surrounded by those who will embrace us and encourage us to open ourselves up to God and in opening up to Him we then begin to open up to each other. This is where our worship spills over into body life day in and day out. Because of the fullness we experience in our deep passionate worship of Him we find that our lives are not lives of pretence. Instead we begin to find consistency whether we encounter one another in a corporate setting of worship with other believers or in everyday challenges as we live out our lives before the world. A genuine supernatural naturalness begins to create a freedom for us to more fully express our worship in abandonment and without reservation to our Lord.

 

  "Away with your hymns of praise - they are mere noise to my ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is. " Amos 5:23

 

The fire of God which comes in the midst of true Spirit lead and directed worship will cleanse and purify all who are open to be touched deeply by Him. We need to face the truth that if we don't allow the Holy Spirit to touch every part of our lives and bring wholeness and purity, God has no room for our worship and it becomes just a dead outward form.

 

 This is just as true in our daily lives as we are being an extended expression of His love among those to whom He sends us as it is in our expression of worship when gathering with other believers. There is such safeguard in this truth. God doesn't want us to come to Him as we think we should be, but as we are. And if what we are is not pleasing to Him, and not in line with His Spirit and His Word, then we cry out for mercy to change. That's all He asks of us.

 

3)  Accessibility and Restraint

It seems that our society here in the west has made huge steps to make public places more accessible to those with special needs. People with wheelchairs, hearing difficulties and the like can enjoy more events and places than ever before. Sometimes, as one who is used by our Lord to initiate a flow of worship in a corporate gathering I need to ask some similar questions.

 

Is our worship accessible for all, or is it only accessible for those who are artistically gifted, musically inclined and mystical? Making worship accessible sometimes means that we need something called restraint in worship. Not a popular word I realize and I must admit that it is not one of my strengths up to this point. To have real worship we need to have both passion and restraint. Restraint is the backbone of creating music and song that others can follow and enter into.

 

Many are hungry for more of God and want a fresh expression in their worship to Him but are uncomfortable with a spontaneous free style of worship. They need a bridge that can bring them into His presence in a new way. Here are a few suggestions that I feel can help bring restraint thus helping to bridge this gap in worship especially in a larger gathering of believers. Remember restraint does not meaning stopping the flow but allowing the flow to slow just a bit so that more who may be on the fringes looking on can enter into the stream.

 

1. Choose a few songs that the majority of the people gathered can identify with in their expression of worship to God.

 

2. Allow yourself to be disciplined not to play or sing all the time - if you fill in the spaces with your "stuff" the music and worship cannot breathe, and others who wish to enter in may feel overwhelmed. Back off and see if others are prepared to break in with a song, a dance or perhaps release a word, let others step up take the lead.

 

3. Realize that the notes you don't play or the song you don't sing are just as important as the ones you do. Follow the leading of Holy Spirit. Don't cast two shadows. You will not want Him to be moving in one direction and you another.

 

4. Choose not to add lots of embellishments to a song that others cannot follow or to sing for too long of an extended period. (Understand however that there will be times when the Spirit may take an individual or a group to such a place for a period of time).

 

Restraint in worship isn't necessarily easy and it may not always feel good. But it is right. If we lose the ability for others who are gathered to enter in, we will often be hindering rather than enhance the unity of worship the Holy Spirit is desiring to bring.



Spontaneous Worship - what's involved?

One of the primary aims of spontaneous worship is to encourage worship that is expressed straight from the heart of the believer to God rather than a programmed response. One thing that will help is not to use lots of songs that have been written out (some of this type worship is encouraged but use it sparingly) and prepared beforehand but rather allowing an open expression right out of the heart and soul of individuals is what is looked for and expected. The focus is not on the ability or limitations of the worshiper rather it is on Jesus who is in our midst and a free spontaneous expression of our heart to His.

 

This expression often has a uniqueness of style both musically and vocally since it is not a practiced or premeditated form of worship. Music and vocal expression has changed through the ages as man has sought to express his heart in fresh ways to God. Songs released as spontaneous worship will reflect what God is doing in the hearts of His people and allows the Holy Spirit to bring forth present relevant truth in the midst of a worship gathering.

 

The quality of sound in either the voice or the music being expressed is for the most part unimportant and takes a back seat as the motivation of the heart to worship God in spirit and truth springs to the forefront. The instruments often played are more rhythmic in nature as these types of instruments are usually more easily picked up by someone who may not consider themselves a musician. Those who play instruments are not always leading the congregation although it may begin in this fashion. Those who may be considered more accomplished musicians are to follow wherever the Holy Spirit leads in song or music or         exhortation within the worshiping setting.

 


 

Rhythm instruments often include some of the following:


 

Drums of various sorts, bongos, guitars, maracas, tambourines, castanets, wooden blocks, bells and triangles are often used. I have seen some fairly unconventional rhythm instruments played in worship such as garbage cans, ice chests, glass bottles filled with BBs or gravel. Lets also not forget clapping of the hands which every one can offer up as an expression of worship unto our Lord. 

 

It is the heart expression that counts! Of course its always fun to bring in electronic keyboards and the many other wind and stringed instruments that are so enjoyed in worship. 

However, as with playing any instrument be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and to one another as you learn how often, how long and how loud you need to play or sing. If we will learn to follow the Holy Spirits who is our director the result will be a wonderful joyful spontaneous sound unto our Lord. The focus is not to be on the uniqueness of the sound of the worship itself (let us not begin to worship our worship) but rather the focus is to remain upon Him who we are worshiping.

 

As we learn to yield more fully to the Holy Spirit in spontaneous worship He will help create in us a freer and fuller expression of our worship to Him whom our hearts so love. In this release of worship the one aim is to bring such delight to Him that His heart will be so thrilled by our abandonment in worship of Him that He literally chooses to come and manifest Himself in our very midst. Oh yes! That the very atmosphere of our worship will beckon Him to come and sing over us, to come dance with us and speak to us as He changes us in His presence and leads us nearer His heart!

 

The LORD your God in your midst is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over you with singing. Zeph. 3:17

 

Perhaps some will think this a lofty aspiration, all that can be said by those of us who have had a taste of His manifest presence in the midst of this kind of worship is we can never go back to the way things once were. We only hunger to be near His heart and allow Him to work in us both the will and the doing of His good pleasure. The more He manifests His glory in our midst the more of Him we desire. We know with out a doubt that we were created to worship Him and worship Him we will. It makes no difference whether we are singing, playing, dancing, working or being still, our eyes remain fixed on pleasing Him whom our hearts so love and that is all that matters.

 

 

Just a Bunch of Noise

Those who have been use to more traditional styles of worship will often feel uneasy when thinking about venturing into the unknown waters of liberated, unstructured, spontaneous worship. After all how is one to know that the results might be just a bunch of noise and confusion where everyone is just doing their own thing? Its true that could happen, (scary uh?) but on the other hand what we have is a wonderful opportunity to allow faith to be at work in the fact that God is speaking and creating a heart of worship in those around us. If we never go out on a limb in trusting God to work beyond what we know how are we ever going to experience more of God than we have experienced up to this point in our lives? I implore you in the Holy Spirit to let your hunger and your pursuit of Him to override your fears and your comfortableness in what you are presently familiar with. God desires to give more of His glory and presence to His children then most are currently enjoying. He is just waiting for them to come after Him and desire to be with Him.

 

Let's encourage those who gather to worship know that they are free to express their love and desire for God in fresh ways. It could be in a song, a poem, a scriptural reading, playing upon an instrument, an expression in the dance or a simple shout. It can also be in drawing a picture. Also encourage them to release whatever is in their heart and that it be done with a desire to bring glory to Jesus! Even if its only one note played or one word sung to focus their heart upon Jesus and simply release what is in them to Him. Encourage them to ask the Lord to purify their hearts and desire as they do this. Remind them that being still and listening is just as important to the Lord as singing or dancing. Exhort that all is to be done for the glory of God.

 

 

Yes, it will most likely be different from what you have experienced up until now in your times of worship together and it will have its challenging moments but nothing is more satisfying than when the glory of God shows up and Jesus Himself comes to inhabit the praise and worship Psalm 22:3  But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. all else fades and the joyous rapture of just being with Him together well nothing else compares.

 

Let all be done to honor and glorify His name! OH YES!

 

In His great love,

 

jonathan saul