But that was about to change.
And I didn’t know what to do.
With my old church, one man up front would lead the singing. He’d tell us what song number to turn to in the hymnal or project the words on the big screen in front of us. We’d all (hopefully) pay attention and sing along with him, word for word in sync. Then we’d wait for the next song, and all sing those words together. When the song ended, we sat silently and passively waited for the next item on the agenda.
But now with my new church, I was discovering things were going to be different.
While we do still all sing together, the worship leader doesn’t necessarily shut down the praise when the song ends. Sometimes he invites us to keep it going. But instead of feeding us lyrics from someone else, we’re encouraged to use our own words.
The first time, it caught me off guard. I just stood there, maybe eyes closed, maybe peeking, and didn’t say anything aloud. I listened as the rumblings around me grew. Never loud or raucous, but constant and sincere. I could make out words like “Thank you” and “Jesus” and “Father” from individual worshipers giving praise with their own words.
After a few minutes, the band would move into the next song and corporate worship would resume. And I’d be back in my comfort zone.
A few Sundays of this went by. Then I decided to give it a try.
And oh my. God got my attention.
This new thing helped. My mind wandered less. I tuned out distracting thoughts. I focused more on what Jesus meant to me personally when I was pumping original words from my heart to my mouth.
It was just a small change—a shift from silent prayer to spoken prayer—and just for a few minutes, but it was a good change. A personal change.
So Sundays are a little noisier now. But that’s okay. I’m no longer awkward with moments of praying aloud with everyone else. I’ve dropped the lie that it would only draw attention to myself, and discovered that it draws my own attention to God instead.
May we never be too old to learn new things, too rigid to embrace change, too comfortable to try different.
Growing in worship is worth it all.
* * *
Have you changed any spiritual habits lately?
- When you’re not sure
- Wrapping up July 2013