I’m giving the world a rude silent treatment. That is a bit of what it feels like. Today is day four of my three to four-week vocal rest. If you want the back story you can read my first post. My mind has been a flurry of ideas I want to write about. I’ll try to give you a few today.
I truly hope to have more insight into how to worship silently in the days and weeks to come. Right now I can just say, this is difficult for me. I taught a seminar on worship a few times in the past. One of the things I talk about is the role of one’s body in worship. This silence enforces my thoughts on the subject exponentially. In the seminar, I tell a story about how I first learned this lesson.
I’ve been leading worship since I was in high school. One of my great frustrations used to be how difficult it was for me to worship God when I wasn’t leading the music. I wondered if my pride was really so great. I lived with this for many years. About 4 years ago I finally noticed one of the reasons I struggled this way. Whenever I am in the congregation, I tend to be very reserved. If you have ever heard me speak or sing, I am a bit of a loudmouth. I didn’t want to be a distraction to the people around me. One Sunday I was at a rather large church and the music was turned up pretty load so I started to really sing. As my vocal cords tightened and my diaphragm pressed the air through them something clicked in me. It was as if that physical event in my voice bridged the gap between the lyrics I was singing and my soul. Almost instantly I was worshiping fully.
One of the reasons I love to lead worship is the fact that I can sing hard up there and it’s expected. That vocal tension helps me recognize that God is worthy of such praise. I sing hard because it helps me worship and that is largely a mental and physical connection. If you have ever wondered why it’s hard for you to connect with God, you may need to explore new ways of expressing praise with your posture, movement, or with singing.
How does this relate to my silence? Well, I can’t sing hard right now. Actually, my love for singing hard might by one reason I broke myself. Oops. That is genuinely one of the hardest parts of this journey for me. Have I been able to worship over the past few weeks? Yes, I have but my poor guitar is feeling some abuse in the process. Worship IS an expression of value. If we worship anything we find ways to express or value of that person or thing. Over the past few weeks, I have noticed that I am more prone to tap my feet, dance a bit, and play my guitar harder than I should. These physical movements are my vocal release valve of expression. Even smiling helps me worship during our time of singing at the church.
My challenge to you is to consider the importance of expressing praise with your body. This isn’t just my own idea about worship either. There are loads of references in scripture to bodily expressions of worship. Psalm 134 says, “Lift up holy hands in prayer and praise the LORD.” In Deuteronomy 6 we are told, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Jesus later says that this idea is the greatest commandment. Notice how the body is included in this great command. I could go on forever pulling out reference to various postures of praise that are referenced in scripture. Jonathan Edwards, one great American theologian said it so well.
Some bodily worship is necessary to give liberty to our own devotion; yea though in secret, so more when with others . . . ‘Tis necessary that there should be something bodily and visible in the worship of a congregation; otherwise, there can be no communion at all. – Jonathan Edwards (From Miscellanies #101)
I can’t sing right now but if you can please do and sing hard on my behalf. I’ll enjoy hearing you and you may just unlock praise in waiting to get out of you.
I have many more ideas buzzing around in my head but they can wait for a future post.