Whenever the worship team prays before a service, one of my prayers for us is that we would be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. He leads us in our planning and rehearsing, but we never want to walk into a service with everything completely settled. As we’re leading the congregation in singing, we need to be listening for the Holy Spirit’s prompting and guiding. If this means going with everything as we planned and rehearsed, that’s great. But if this means making some sort of change, whether it’s major or minor, skipping something, highlighting something, lingering at a certain point, or some other unplanned direction, we need to be ready.
I’ve found that the Holy Spirit will very rarely lead me or the pastor leading a service to make a drastic change on the fly. He may do that this coming Sunday – but usually if we’re praying for his guidance, and seeking to be faithful to the word of God in our planning, for the lack of a better term, “we will be close” once Sunday morning rolls around.
This past Sunday morning, January 10th, our opening three songs were “Jesus Saves” by Tim Hughes, “You Alone Can Rescue” by Matt Redman and Jonas Myrin, and “Jesus Paid All” by Elvina Hall and John Grape, with a new bridge written by Kristian Stanfill.
I felt led to choose these songs since the sermon was going to be on Romans 4:1-8, highlighting how there are no works we can do to make ourselves righteous before God. We are made righteous through Jesus Christ.
As we came to the end of “You Alone Can Rescue” I sensed the Holy Spirit prompting me to linger for a while before moving on to the next song. As the song drew to a close, I caught the piano player’s eye and motioned for him to keep playing. Then, responding to what I felt I was being led to do, I just sang out a few simple statements of thanks to God for what he has done for us in Christ.
“Oh thank you, Lord.”
“We were dead in our sin.”
“We were lost on our own.”
“You raised us to life.”
“You paid the debt we could not pay.”
“It’s the only way we can approach your throne.”
“You’ve made us sons and daughters of yourself.”
“Thank you for saving me – all for your glory, Lord.”
Then we moved on to “Jesus Paid it All”.
It wasn’t a major change to the direction of the service. All I did was sing a few simple truths, drawing a bit from Ephesians 2, highlighting what we had just sung, and transitioning to the next song. Here’s how it sounded:
I don’t do this every week. I actually don’t do it all that often. But yesterday morning, after praying and asking for God’s help to be sensitive to his Spirit, it seemed that he was leading me to not rush into the next song.
This kind of thing can help people be more aware of God’s presence, reminded of the truth, and affected by his Spirit’s active work. In your specific church and context, he will use you in a specific way. It might not be appropriate for you to sing a spontaneous song, or you might not be comfortable with that. It doesn’t have to look or sound a certain way, or resemble how it worked at a conference you attended. Just be ready and be faithful.
If I were to do this every single week, it could become predictable and might be manufactured. If I rambled or did it in a distracting/forced way, it could have the opposite effect. I’ve made some mistakes when seeking to be responsive to the Holy Spirit during a service, and I’m sure I’ll make more.
So this weekend when I lead the congregation in singing, I’ll again pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and I encourage you to as well. He won’t do the same thing two weekends in a row, so I’m excited to see what has in store.