There is much debate these days as to what style of worship is “best,” about staying away from entertainment and trying to be more authentic, about steering away from trying to please the masses, and more toward simply trying to please the heart of God. While all of this is good and necessary debate, there is one truth that I think is being missed by some, if not many, and it is the power of true, authentic worship, regardless of how it is done.
As worship leaders, we hold more power in our hands than I think many of us realize. Remember the story of Paul and Silas in jail? As they began to sing hymns to the Lord from their hearts, worshiping in spite of the circumstance – or maybe even because of it – their chains fell off and the prison doors opened. But here’s the thing – not only did their own chains fall off, but the chains of all within the sound of their voices fell off as well. The other prisoners were loosed of their bonds, and their prison doors were opened.
Paul and Silas were in the midst of one of the worst places and circumstances they could have been in. There was no stage, there were no lights, no instruments, no microphones or reverb – nothing to “attract” anyone to what they were doing. They were simply worshiping God in the midst of a trial – glorifying God in true, heart-felt worship, proclaiming that God is still God. And it broke the chains of all who were there.
When we stand before the congregation and sing directly from our hearts to God, things happen in the spiritual realm; but I truly believe this only occurs when we are in true worship – when nothing around us matters at all, except for recognizing and proclaiming Who God is and the unwavering trust we have in Him, no matter what. A spiritual battle is waged when we worship – for the Lord said that He dwells within the praises of His people. In John 4:23-24, Jesus said, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
I fully believe that when God is proclaimed in worship, Satan cannot stand and loses his hold on the hearts and minds of those within the sound of it. When I say that we, as worship leaders, hold great power in our hands, I mean it with every ounce of my being, and the awe of it all literally overwhelms me. We literally have the power through the Holy Spirit to loose the spiritual bonds of those within our hearing. Jesus said that He came to set the captive free, and that we, as His followers, would do even greater things than His disciples had seen Him do. That is why we are to worship – not because God needs our praises – but because He works in the midst of our praise to loose our spiritual bonds and the bonds of those around us. We are not here to entertain. We are not here to make anybody feel “comfortable.” We are here to proclaim the Name of the Lord and to proclaim liberty to the captives. That is our calling as choir members, as praise team singers, as musicians, as leaders, and as worshipers in the congregation. Every worshiper who is worshiping in spirit and in truth is proclaiming liberty to those around them, because the Spirit of the Lord is dwelling in their praises – and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty! Hearts and minds are opened and freed and prepared to hear and receive the life-changing Word of God!
And what a mighty and powerful and beautiful calling! It gives an entirely new perspective in this day of debate over what kind of worship is the “best” kind. The best kind of worship is the kind that is offered from a grateful, humble heart and proclaims the truth of the Gospel and the life-changing power of God, His sovereignty, His holiness, His everlasting kindness and tender mercies, His power, His majesty, His glory…
The debate needs to end, and we need to begin to concentrate on simply lifting up the name of Jesus in Spirit and in truth so that He alone is honored and glorified before men. He said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.” That, my friend, is the power of worship. Chains are loosed, captives are freed, and hearts are drawn to the saving power of Jesus Christ.