Article Printed in ICFM Faith Report August 2001
In 1997 God spoke to me and said, "I want to use you to turn the hearts of My people back to Myself." I said, "Why, Lord?" and He said, "Because their hearts are everywhere."
The heart needs to be captured. We need a fresh encounter with love. We need to experience God in such a way that our hearts are captivated by Him. Only then will we turn to Him with hearts that are passionate, worshiping in spirit and in truth. The Psalmist prayed, "Turn us Lord, and our hearts will be turned." I believe God gave us music as one of the means to awaken our hearts toward Himself. There is power in music to ignite the heart in worship. That is its created purpose.
I think the church is ready for a fresh emphasis on worship. I sense a hunger for reality in worship that goes far beyond what we have become accustomed to. The deepest part of God is calling to us to be with Him, and our songs must reflect this. If a song doesn't move us deeply in some way then deep isn't calling to deep. Only songs birthed in His presence can bring that presence to us. Only songs birthed in heaven will leave us feeling like we have been there. Songs written out of passion will bring that passion into our worship services. I can't think of a worship song I've written that hasn't reduced me to tears in the process. There is surrender in tears. When tears can flow freely the heart is yielded and is easily touched. If we don't have intimate moments in our corporate worship services where people cry silently as their hearts are yielded to Him, then their hearts are not being touched.
There is a new sound coming into the earth today.- it is the sound of heaven. What does this "heavenly sound" sound like? There is glory on the voice of someone who has been there. You can tell if they have been there or if they haven't. I personally believe there are two elements that will identify this fresh wind of God's spirit in our worship, and those two elements are spontaneity and intimacy. Both these elements release the glory of God's presence in our midst in a way that a song constructed any other way just cannot. The new sound will carry an element of spontaneous worship - songs that are birthed from hearts so captivated with God, that the human vessel simply becomes a conduit of His presence. There is something about the human voice and its capacity to carry the sense of God's presence - it is hard to explain, but I'm sure we have all experienced it. There is a hunger in the heart of God's people for more intimacy in worship, and I believe this cry is birthed in the heart of God Himself. The Lord is calling us to greater intimacy as part of our preparation for the day when both the Spirit and the Bride will say, "Come." I believe the return of Jesus will be ushered in by a church that has found her way into the bridal chambers of heaven and whose passion demands a consummation of the marriage. "There will be no more delay." The Bride has made herself ready.
I think the challenge for the modern day psalmist is to find the presence of God, live there, and write songs that come from a heart that is obviously experiencing what the song is about. This will in turn allow the congregation to share corporately in the moment of intimacy that gave birth to the song. The congregational worship will rarely rise above the personal love walk of the song leader, or of the worship circumstances in which the song was birthed. Moses' own personal meeting place with God became the place where God met with the people. Our responsibility to the people is to have our own walk with God. We cannot lead the congregation into places we ourselves have not been. As a songwriter, your intimacy with the Lord becomes a place of intimacy for others when you put it in a song. Songs received in the presence of God carry God's presence. We must first eat of the holy things before we can minister the holy things. We must partake of the altar before we can serve from the altar. David went into the house of God and ate the Presence Bread. Then he was able to feed those who were with him. When our heart is touched with the presence of God we carry that presence with us wherever we go. Our place of meeting with God becomes the place where others too can meet with Him. It is an awesome privilege and responsibility.
There is a cry today in the hearts of God's people for greater intimacy in worship - for songs that are God-breathed, songs that are birthed in another world and can bring that world to us, songs that are so touched by His presence that they capture every heart for Him. There, in the secret place, we are captivated by His love and consumed with His purpose for our lives. There, in the intimacy of worship, we will lay down our brief lives in pursuit of the greatest privilege ever offered to man - to be lovers of God.
Ray Watson and his wife Pam pastor Pursuit church in Auckland, New Zealand.
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