Spiritual worship according to Romans 12:1 is the offering of our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. Not just an hour of singing in church but the attitude of one’s entire life: ‘Take your everyday, ordinary life -your sleeping eating going-to- work and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering’. (The Message)
Praise, both personal and corporate, is just one aspect of this complete spectrum of worship.
Blessing God with words, and/or sounds, and/or actions
– hopefully with poetic words (such as Psalm 36:5), musical sounds (harps and flutes), and appropriate dramatic actions (clapping, dancing, kneeling – even in silence).
A worship leader is:
The minister of praise who co-ordinates all the other ministers of praise in praising God together.
A ‘menu’ of public worship
Praise is but part of a corporate service of worship.
Some ‘exercises’ will be spoken:
• Scripture reading
• Prophetic utterances (tongues, words of wisdom)
Yet other facets of the gathering will be enacted:
• Receiving the financial offerings and tithes
• Breaking of bread
• Baby Blessing
• Laying on of hands
Our main consideration here is with the parts that are sung:
All these ingredients should be contributed in faith as we ‘worship in spirit and truth’
(John 4:24; Ephesians 5:18-20).
If we truly worship together in the Spirit our prophetic praise should flow through a variety of phases as a river moves through different terrain. If we truly engage God, then, out of our blessing of him will overflow his blessings to us – even at times moving the hearts of unbelievers who are present (see 1 Corinthians 14:24-25), because:
• God is ‘enthroned upon the praises of Israel’ (Psalm 22:3 NASB)
• He is awesome, ‘fearful in praises’ (Exodus 15211 KJV)
Variety in Praise
Habakkuk 3: 1-19 provides us with an interesting example of variations in the expressions of praise.
The first and last lines of the chapter indicate that the prophet’s personal prayer was orchestrated for public worship. The singers address: God (Habakkuk 3:2), then the congregation (Habakkuk 3: 3-7), God again (Habakkuk 3: 8-15) and finally the people once more (v 16-19).
• The introduction (Habakkuk 3: 2) is a prayer asking God for the miraculous evidence of his presence, as in the exodus from Egypt.
• Next, the congregation is reminded of God’s awesome deeds in the past (Habakkuk 3: 3-7 = ‘he ’).
• Then the Almighty is addressed, still on the subject of his past visitation (Habakkuk 3: 8-15 = ‘Thee ’).
• In conclusion the singers express personal testimony to the congregation (that is, to each other, Habakkuk 3: 16-19 = ‘me ’) to the effect: While awaiting another revival I will trust and rejoice in the Lord who will strengthen me and raise me above my circumstances into the heavenlies.
Various Modes of Vocal Worship
1. THANKSGIVING tends to focus on what the Lord has done for me:
‘I sought the Lord, and he answered me: he delivered me from all my fears. ’
Thanksgiving is one of the simplest ways into the presence of God:
‘Enter his gates with thanksgiving. ’ (Psalm 100:4)
And grumbling is often the first step out of his presence (see Romans 1:21 and 24, 26, 28).
• Thanksgiving should range over everything that God sends or allows in my life, not just the ‘feel good’ experiences (see 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and Ephesians 5: 18-20). As Lord of all he causes all things to work together for our good,
• Never turn Psalm 100:4 into a formula or technique as if it promised: Do some thanking and, hey presto! you will be zapped with the presence of God!
2. PRAISE is also expressed in Psalm 100 (v3 and 5). In praise we bless God for who he is in his majesty, and for what he has accomplished as Creator and Redeemer:
‘It is he who has made us …; his faithfulness continues through all generations. ’
In praise the worshipper’s spirit soars beyond the me-my-and-mine dimension.
3. ADORATION is that intimate, meditative appreciation of the Lord’s worth and ways, not just of
his works or deeds; Praise is silent unto you, O God, in Zion. ’
(Psalm 65:1 literal; compare Amplified Bible)
‘Be still and know that I am God,” I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord Almighty is with us.’ (Psalm 46:10-11)
God can speak to us dramatically in the environment of high praise. But he will disclose some of the most profound revelations of his heart in the awesome stillness of corporate adoration.
Various styles within each mode of worship.
In many psalms we can note such styles as:
a) Declaration to others (‘He is .._’) in testimony
b) Exhortation to others (‘Let us …’) as invitation
c) Offering to him (‘You are …’)
Listed below are sample songs in these three styles in each of the modes of worship we have been looking at:
– God is so good
– The Lord is my light and my salvation
b) Exhortation – Let us give thanks that our names are written, written in the Book of Life
c) Offering – I will give you thanks, I will sing your praise
a) Declaration – Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised
b) Exhortation – Clap your hands, all you people
c) Offering – Be exalted, O Lord, above the heavens
a) Declaration – This is holy ground, we’re standing on holy ground
b) Exhortation – Let us open up ourselves before the Lord
c) Offering -You are beautiful beyond description
We should aim to stay alert to the progression of the River of God in public praise so that we can sense when it is most edifying to contribute a personal prayer, testimony or spiritual gift. It would, for instance, be inappropriate to strike up the testimony song Sin shall not have dominion over you or the chorus of exhortation Give thanks’ with a grateful heart when we have arrived together at a period of majestic stillness.
Variation in Musical Accompaniment
Even worshippers who do not themselves play an instrument should give thought to the wide range of musical features that can be drawn upon to facilitate the vast range of possibilities in our public praise:
• Tempo can vary so that the same tune expresses dance or contemplative adoration
• Rhythm encompasses march, waltz, tango and much more
• Pitch may be appropriately high or low
• Tone differs from piccolo to tuba, from banjo to viola
• Volume can range from the very quiet to the really loud
• Melody and harmony are other facilities
• Some lines of a song may be responsive (Psalm 24:7-10) as when female voices ‘echo’ the
• theme just rendered by male singers
• Some psalms have a reprise – a repeated chorus line for emphasis.