Here you go ladies and gentlemen. A sample chapter from the book I’ve been working on about worship. It is still developing very slowly as God continues to show me more and more each week about leading His worshippers. Feedback is always welcome. Enjoy!
Preparing For Battle
Worship is our response to God. In other words, we don’t initiate worship; God does.-Louie Giglio
I can still remember the coldness of the metal bench beneath my legs as I stared into my equipment locker at North Harford High School in the fall of 1998. I can hear the pounding of taped fists against the walls outside of the locker room hallway. I can hear the slaps of open palms hitting the painted hawk that held our team’s motto in it’s claws above the exit to the field. I can hear my team captain whispering words of victory and charges to hit as hard as we could while we encircled him in a sphere of green and gold football jerseys. Beyond those moments of intensity I don’t recall too much else.
You see, I was terrible at football my freshman year. I played one or two games, and watched the rest of the season from the bench. I never caught a touchdown. I never intercepted a pass. I never celebrated in the end zone, and yet, the one thing I remember vividly is the preparation for the game.
When we worship we are preparing for battle. A lot of people come to church with the mindset of, “Oh we’ll sing a few songs and then hear a message and go home.” Some come with the mindset of, “I can’t wait to sing on Sunday! It’s my favorite part of the week!” While others maintain the outlook of, “I’m a terrible singer. How many more choruses until we get to sit down?”
None of those pre-conceived notions are necessarily bad within themselves. I’ve been to churches where I either fell asleep or played games on my phone until it was time to leave. I’ve been to churches where the worship was incredible but as soon as it was finished we would leave because the speaker was terrible. I’ve also been to that church where the Pastor’s wife is the Music Director and they sing “Come now is the time to worship” every week.
Looking back on all the worship experiences I’ve had, and now that I am a lead worshipper at a church, I couldn’t help but begin to explore in my own heart why we worship. As I began to journey through that process I came across this first and foremost.
Worship is the time when we prepare to hear God’s Word.
Whether the service was boring, engaging, or outdated; that time was still there for me to prepare my heart to hear what God had to say. It’s disappointing to look back and see all the missed opportunities because of my own selfishness, pride, or genuine lack of interest. It’s also invigorating to know that from this point on I can look forward to that time of preparation every week.
There’s a prayer warrior in our church community named Maureen. Maureen is the type of lady who, if you asked her to pray for something and you forgot about it, she’d still be praying about it years down the road. Maureen is a relentless source of encouragement. She prays specifically for the worship all week long, and her prayers aren’t just for the time spent in worship on Sunday morning, they’re also for the hearts of the leaders, that they will be seeking the Lord in all that they do. Maureen shared this piece of scripture with me a few months ago.
In 2nd Chronicles 20 Jehoshaphat received word that a great multitude was coming to invade Judah from beyond the sea. This information terrified Jehoshaphat, so he sought the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
Can you imagine if that happened in this day and age? All of a sudden our President receives word of another nation plotting to invade our homeland and the first decision he or she makes is to seek the Lord and declare a fast throughout our nation?
In verses 5 through 13, Jehoshaphat is standing in the Assembly of Judah and Jerusalem and everyone from Judah is there with their wives and children. Jehoshaphat begins praying out loud to God saying that they don’t know what to do because they are “powerless before this great multitude” and he says, “…but our eyes are on You.”
This is an incredible instruction on what to do when you need guidance as a leader. Jehoshaphat is in charge. The entire nation of Judah and Jerusalem is looking to him for direction and he immediately seeks God for wisdom.
God decides to use Jahaziel the son of Zechariah to speak to Jehoshaphat. In verses 15-17 he says this,
“Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’ “
Did you catch what Jahaziel says halfway through his declaration? “You will not have to fight this battle,” and yet he tells them to “take up your positions.” Even though they won’t have to fight, they still have to prepare for battle.
The next morning the scriptures say that they went out into the wilderness of Tekoa and Jehoshaphat tells them to put their trust in the Lord and they will be “established.”
The Hebrew word for “established” is ‘aman which literally means “pillars.”
The next part is amazing. Verses 21-24 say this,
After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:
“Give thanks to the LORD,
for his love endures forever.”
As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The men of Ammon and Moab rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.
When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped.
The worshippers went ahead of the army. I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel comfortable sending our percussion section as our first line of attack in any situation! What’s so fascinating to me is that it wasn’t until they began to sing that the Lord destroyed the armies who were invading Judah. The battle was not theirs but the Lord’s.
I shared that scripture and story with the worship band that Sunday morning after I finished listening to Maureen and something happened. From that day forward there was a new sense of trust within the team. There was an unspoken unity that bonded us and fed our worship leading since that morning. It has become highly contagious within our community. Once there was an understanding that what we were doing wasn’t simply an opening act for the teacher, but a necessary time of preparing hearts to hear God’s truth, we drew near to one another in an amazing way.
What would happen if we began to look at our time of worship every week as the time in which we prepare for battle? What would happen if we allowed ourselves to trust in the Lord so that we would become like pillars? What would happen if we began trusting God instead of our own talents?
Our worship experience shouldn’t hinge on loops and clicks. Our time of adoration shouldn’t reflect only abilities and gifts. Our morning coffee dose of singsong melodies and dropouts shouldn’t define us as worshippers. On the contrary all of those things should become like the coolness of air as the sun sets. Those things must become an aftereffect of something far greater than themselves. Those things must get lost in something bigger like a single ceramic in a tile mural.
Consider your worship time this week and prepare. Allow God to open up your heart to what He has to say to you and let His love invade every fiber of your being. He knows you love Him. He loves that you love Him. Let Him begin to work in you to show you more of Him, so you can love more of Him. Worship this week in preparation to hear God’s truth in your life.