The Model Prayer of a Worshiper

Sacred heart of Jesus and Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, stained glass, Notre Dame de Clignancourt church, Paris, France
By Dwayne Moore

The Model Prayer that Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 6 can be divided into three distinct parts. As we build a daily habit of praying “in this manner,” our prayer lives can significantly deepen and our perspective of things can radically improve.

Part 1: Vertical—Start with praise and surrender.
When we pray, we should always begin with a vertical focus on “our Father in heaven.” Never start with yourself. God is the only one worthy of our attention when we pray. We should begin with praise to our God, just as Jesus did when He said “Hallowed be Your name.” We should speak directly to the Lord, telling Him how awesome and holy and worthy He is. Take as much time as needed for your mind and heart to catch up with your words. Let the truth of His greatness sink into your soul.

Heart-felt praise should naturally lead us then to surrender our will to Him. Like Jesus, we should humbly submit to His will being done “on earth, as it is in heaven.” It’s not about our will being done. Our Father is not some magic genie granting us our every wish and whim. Before we dare ask for anything or expect anything of Him, we must first willingly submit to His will above our own.

Part 2: Personal—Pray for yourself and your loved ones.
Once we’ve focused our mind and heart vertically and surrendered ourselves to Him, then we are ready for the second part of the Model Prayer. In this part, we pray for “us.” “Give us this day our daily bread…Forgive us our trespasses…and deliver us from evil.” We should boldly bring our needs, our sins and our frailty before the Lord. Admit you are needy. Fall on His grace to supply your every need. We should never fall prey to the notion that we shouldn’t pray for ourselves. Of course we should; Jesus did, and so should we.

Notice He said, “Give us this day our daily bread” (italics added). Don’t worry about tomorrow. Ask Him for the provisions you need today for you and your family.  Trust Him to provide for you. Remember what David said: “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (Psalm 37:25, NIV).

Linger in this second part of the prayer until you’ve also confessed any sins God reveals to you—including the sin of unforgiveness toward any who may have hurt or trespassed against you. And be sure to pray for protection from the evil and spiritual darkness that is all around us.

Part 3: Big Kingdom—Open your heart to love and pray for others.
“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” This third part is what we might call the “Big K” portion. As important and necessary as it is for us to pray for ourselves and our own needs, our prayers aren’t complete if they don’t open up to the bigger picture—to the world beyond our own. Too often we seem content just getting our personal needs met and building our own little kingdoms, when God has called us to something much greater. We are on this earth to help build His Kingdom, to help lead people to come under His rule and reign. Once we have cast our personal cares on Him, we are then ready and able to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, ESV).

Therefore, praying Big K prayers means we should make time to intercede for others, for specific people who don’t know the Lord, as well as for those in leadership and for people going through difficulties. Every day, we should also include in our prayers bold Kingdom requests—things we simply can’t accomplish for the Lord on our own. They should be petitions that only God can do through His power. They should be so far beyond our own abilities that only God could get the credit when the requests become reality.

It’s important to note that many scholars don’t believe Jesus actually said the closing words of the Model Prayer. In fact many versions of the Bible don’t include “For thine is the kingdom and the power and glory…” So, does that let us off the hook for Part 3? Can we skip the Kingdom focus when we pray? Is it OK for us to be content just praying for ourselves; then saying “Amen”? Not at all. Jesus’ prayers always included a Big K mindset—and so should ours.

When He prayed in John 17, for example, He started out vertically, and then He prayed personally. But notice how quickly His focus then turned toward others, particularly those the Father had given Him: “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him (verses 1-2, NIV).

We can see the three parts of the Model Prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane as well: “My Father (vertical), if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me (personal). Yet not as I will, but as you will (big K)” (Matthew 26:39, NIV). Naturally Jesus prayed for Himself. He knew the agony He was facing, and He didn’t want to go through it. But He didn’t stop there; He couldn’t just think about Himself when He prayed. His whole life had been about doing His Father’s will, instead of His own. And Jesus knew it was His Father’s will for Him to die, so that you and I and so many more could have life.

No doubt, the most powerful illustration of unselfish, Big Kingdom praying was when Jesus extended His arms and allowed soldiers to drive nails through His hands and feet. Despite the excruciating pain, He still managed to pray, but not for Himself—He prayed for them. ““Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34, ESV).

May in all our praying we never fail to pray for them

A Visual Illustration

Here’s a simple and memorable way to illustrate the three parts of the Model Prayer. Try it first in your private prayer times, and then teach it to your congregation or small group.

1. Vertical: Lift your hands toward heaven, as you express your praise to God and surrender to His will.

2. Personal: Now drop your arms and wrap them around yourself, as you take time to pray for your personal needs, unconfessed sins and deliverance from evil.

3. Big K: Just as Jesus extended His arms out on the cross, extend your hands now as you pray for God’s Kingdom, power and glory in the lives of others.

 

Dwayne Moore is an author, leadership coach and church consultant. He is founder of Next Level Worship. He is also Pastor of Worship and Creative Arts at Valley View Church in Louisville, KY.  Dwayne has written multiple books, including the award-winningPure Praise: A Heart-focused Bible Study on Worship and the church-wide study, Heaven’s Praise: Hearing God Say “Well Done.”  Dwayne has taught and led worship for more than 35 years in over 1000 churches and conferences. His coaching won a 2013 “Best of the Best” award from Worship Leader Magazine. He’s a partner faculty member at Liberty University, and he’s contributed numerous articles to Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox. Go to NextLevelWorship.com to connect with Dwayne.

 

Worship and the Word

Dramatic background
By Dave Ray
 

We are categorical people; our brains work in categories.  We love dividing things based on essential elements.  We divide music and literature into genres.  We divide stores into departments.  We divide and label people based on a host of cultural stereotypes – jock, nerd, straight-laced, rebel, liberal, conservative.  At their best, these categories are a highly efficient method of processing information and an easy way to cast boy bands.  At their worst, our labels cause us to lose nuance and meaning, particularly when we create categories unnecessarily.  Let me show you what I mean.

A phrase I hear from time to time in church divides the typical worship service into two categories: worship and the Word.  Worship encompasses the music – what one congregant at my previous church famously referred to as “the preliminaries” – and the Word is the preaching.  It’s an easy distinction to make.  For some, this helpful two-category approach can be useful in determining when to arrive at church (or when to leave), when to pay attention and when to set your fantasy football lineup.  But the real danger in such a mindset is in losing the intimate relationship between these two things.

In Nehemiah 8, we find a great assembly of the people of Israel.  Many had returned from exile and begun to rebuild Jerusalem.  In the midst of grave danger from the surrounding nations, the people had completely rebuilt the city’s broken down wall.  They then assembled to hear Ezra the priest read the word of God.  For about six hours (“from daybreak till noon”) Ezra read the law as the people stood and listened.  Then, something extraordinary happened:

Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, ‘Amen!  Amen!’  Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. – Nehemiah 8:6

And the people didn’t stop there.  Once they understood the Word of God, an eight-day worship festival broke out, and verse 17 tells us “their joy was very great.”

This story illustrates an important principle: the Word inspires worship.  And there is a danger should we separate the two.  How often do we sing songs without knowing how the lyrics were inspired by scripture, or worse, if they are even scriptural at all?  When was the last time you read scripture as a congregation?  Worship leaders, when was the last time you integrated a scripture passage into your worship set?

This has affected me in a couple different ways.  As a worship leader I have always valued scripture as a part of the worship set.  But I have also realized just how easy it is to throw four songs together without doing the extra work required to study the Word and select passages for the congregation to hear and read as we worship.  I must continually remind myself how integral the Word is to true worship, and it renew my commitment to meaningfully integrate scripture into our corporate worship.

So worship leaders, let me encourage you to take time this week to dive into the passage your pastor is using for his sermon.  Look at the sections of scripture that inspired the songs your congregation will sing.  Select a passage for your congregation to read aloud together, or simply read it yourself during a transition between songs.

If you’re a songwriter, try sitting down with a favorite passage of scripture and writing a song based entirely on that passage.  Recently I did that with Psalm 23, and the song eventually became the title track of our new EP.  Of course, I can’t take much credit for the lyric – it’s been around for awhile – but as I sing the phrase I’ve heard so many times, “Surely Your goodness and mercy will follow me,” I realize that I couldn’t have written it any better. My heart is moved by the truth of the enduring Word of God, and I find myself truly worshiping!

 

David Ray is a father of three, husband to Jess, who is the talented one in the marriage, and the Worship Pastor at Bear Creek Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.  The latest EP from Dave & Jess Ray, Goodness and Mercy, is available on iTunes and at daveandjessray.com.

 

Leading When You Are Worn Out and Hurting

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By Randi Perez Helm

I’ve been feeling a little worn out lately.  The normal stressors of life are heavy.  I have pages of unanswered concerns that I can’t make sense of. There are more demands on my energy, time and checkbook than there were a year ago. Despite all of this, expectations and responsibilities of leadership continue.

When my life is like this the normal routines of creating worship sets, administrative details, running rehearsals and leading services become difficult.  I’m in one of those seasons right now. Maybe you are too? I have been in this place before. Whether this time has been several months or is a short-term situation there are some things that I have found to help.

Take care of the body.
During stressful times my tendency is to not eat well and skimp on physical exercise. This only makes me feel worse.  Taking special care of my physical health becomes important because it’s a gateway to how well I manage my emotions and duties.  I keep good food is around me and I exercise in the morning, or else it won’t happen.

Lighten the load.
This may feel counter intuitive but I cut back on activities that tend to drain me.  For me too many lunch and coffee dates, above and beyond shepherding relationships, tend to deplete me. I have to keep my reserves up in order to maintain my primary role as worship leader. For you it may mean something else.  You may need to decrease your extra home projects or volunteer committees.  The point is to create more breathing room to think and pray. We need to allow ourselves the freedom to journey in a healthy way through the pain or conflict in our lives.  If we don’t more tension grows because we are ignoring the stress.  This is a temporary situation; we will regain energy for these things again.

Get creative.
Become creative in your duties to serve the church.  Change up your weekly routines through simplicity. Crafting a worship set that is pared down or acoustic requires less moving parts and is often a nice balance stylistically to your existing music ministry. I have done this when I was feeling depleted and found that I engage on a deeper level with the clarity and simplicity of an intimate approach.  I’m freed up from leading a big sound with the natural highs and lows of the energy required.  In many cases others expressed how meaningful and connected the worship experience was for them because it was a change from the norm.

Live with authenticity and offer this season for God’s glory.
In leadership there is an understanding that we have to take people from one destination to another.  But we often become confused by this principle and feel the need to hide our weakness or pain.  Showing our vulnerabilities can be frowned upon in many leadership circles.  Let me suggest we look at Jesus for our role model here.  He was tired, hungry, grieved, stressed by having to live on the run, rejected by others, disappointed in His friends, angry and wanted a new plan from God.  He experienced all of this while in community with His closest friends.  He didn’t ignore pain or concern; rather He stepped into it.  He is our example of how to deal honestly with things in our lives that wear us down and God used this to further His Kingdom.  We too must believe that our painful seasons are not to be hidden but something that God can use to help others.

We have to be willing to be leaders who lead others to God when we are doing well and when we aren’t.  Trouble is a part of life here, but it also a reminder that things are not as they should be in God’s Kingdom.  This compels deeper longing for and worship of God.  I may not feel good but God is good.  And I can celebrate that and encourage others with this truth.

 

When I’m not writing, I love to create and sing.  I lead worship for my church and other events. I also provide vocal coaching and worship leading coaching for people in the church who simply desire to be the best they can be for Christ and the Church.  From time to time you can find me contributing at workshops to encourage, build up and equip ministry volunteers in worship arts. Visit her blog here.

 

 

4 Tech Tips for Traditional Services

Pipe Organ Keyboard
By Michael A. Lee

 

Q: My church is all contemporary worship, but I’ve been asked to fill in at another church down the street that is purely traditional. What are some things I should know about the tech side of leading in a traditional service?

A: When I was 21, a local church hired me to lead worship at their mid-week service. The pastor explained that they wanted modern rock, “lights and big drums” worship, and it was my job to make it happen. What I didn’t know was that the service I was being handed was a battlefield in the church’s ongoing worship war. It was clear from the start that people weren’t happy with the new music, and so the elder board asked me to make some changes. Within four months, the service morphed from guitars, drums, vocal team, and lasers to me, at a piano, with a hymnal. It was the start of my ongoing love affair with traditional worship music.

I could not have been more out of my element. For a young keyboardist more at home with face-melting rock anthems than four-part harmony, it was a huge adjustment. Not only did I need to learn new musical styles and a new repertoire, I had to learn to think differently about the technology we were using in the service.

If you’re a contemporary worship leader stepping in to lead congregational worship in a traditional setting, let me share four things I learned along the way.

1. Turn down the lead vocal mic.
In a contemporary service, we often mix audio at a level where the sound envelops the listener, so that there’s a kinetic reaction to the experience even if they aren’t singing along. When we’re leading, we get nervous if our mic isn’t loud enough to sing out over the congregation. In a traditional service, the congregation doesn’t need that kind of leadership. As I’m often reminded by some of our church members, they know these songs better than I do! Traditional congregations love to sing, they love to hear themselves singing, and cranking up the lead vocal mic can get in the way. That sense of overwhelming power and sonic envelopment? That’s the job of the organ.

2. The organ is a sovereign nation.
In many sanctuaries, the organ isn’t routed through the sound system. Even if it’s an electric organ with no pipes, it’s likely to have its own set of speakers that are independent from the house system.  That means there are some limitations to what we can do, like bringing the overall level up or down at the soundboard, or sending the organ to your vocal monitor. Speaking of monitors …

3. You may not get (or need) a monitor.
The first and second points together add up to the fact that you may not need a monitor. In a contemporary setting, it’s hard to do your job unless the full radio mix is screaming back up at you from a wedge or your in-ears. However, the lower volume of the leading voice together with the independence of the organ often makes a vocal monitor unnecessary. This can be intimidating at first, but it can also be great practice in helping you trust your own voice.

4. Your congregation will have their own monitors.
How hip is the traditional service? So hip that some folks in the congregation have their own in-ear monitors! Many traditional services use wireless assisted listening devices, similar to wireless in-ear monitors, to amplify the service for people with hearing loss. In some sanctuaries, these assisted listening devices are fed by a dedicated aux mix from the main board. In others, they only have a feed from the pastor’s mic. It’s a good idea to talk with the sound tech about what’s going to the assisted listening devices, and how it might affect the worship experience of those people using them.

In my current position, I live in both the contemporary and traditional worlds. I lead a small early morning chapel service with an organist and a hymnal, as well as rotating through to lead the large contemporary service with full throttle production. I’m finding that my experience leading in a traditional setting is making me more thoughtful about how we employ technology in the contemporary services. The same question stays at the forefront in both settings: are these tools serving the worship experience, or hindering it?

 

Michael A. Lee is a professional keyboardist, composer, and a professor at Azusa Pacific University. He leads worship at Crossline Church. michaelleemusic.com

Worship: Beginning at the Beginning

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By Kristen Gilles

Worship begins with God. He takes all the initiative in seeking worshipers to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4).  He invites and draws us by His Spirit to participate in the glory-sharing of the Trinity.  And He’s made a way for us to come boldly before His throne through the spotless blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God slain before the foundations of the world to take away the sins of the whole world. So worship begins with God and is made possible by God.

But sometimes we struggle with the notion that it’s all about us, or at least that we initiate worship and, if we sing loud enough and well enough, God will notice. Maybe we even think He’ll love us more and give us more good gifts if we worship Him well.

But thank God that we are accepted by Him on the basis of His righteousness, accredited to us in Christ’s perfect humanity. Worship is not us finding a way to God.  Worship is God drawing us to Himself, to share in the glorious relationship He has with Himself in the Trinity.

God doesn’t need us to worship Him.  God doesn’t need us to do anything for Him.  That’s not why we were created.  The Triune God is entirely satisfied in the loving relationship He has within Himself.  Out of His own fullness, out of the abundance of His continuous outpouring of love and worship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God was pleased to create us, to reveal Himself to us and draw us into this perfect fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.In the mysterious, beautiful glory-sharing of the Trinity (each member continuously and equally ascribing worth to the other members), God’s glorification and worship is complete.  And now we, by the gracious favor of God, have been created to participate in this worship and to share unbroken fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  He chose to share His glory with us!

Worship, then, is a response gifted to us by our Father. Matt Redman described it like this in his song “Gifted Response”:

This is a gifted response,
Father, we cannot come to you by our own merit;

We will come in the name of Your Son,
As He glorifies You, and in the power of Your Spirit

Worship begins with God who invites us — by the power of His Spirit — to participate. And He makes a way for us to do that through Jesus, our Faithful High Priest who ever lives to intercede for us and lead us in worship before the Father.

Think about this and ask yourself how it should impact the worship of your gathered church:

  • How should we enter into our times of corporate worship?
  • What should our people understand about worship beginning with God, and how can we help them understand it?
  • How should we call them to respond to God’s invitation?
  • What methods can we employ to increase our corporate awareness of God’s Triune nature and His work in our worship of Him from beginning to end?
  • What songs can we sing that will help us remember that worship begins with God and is made possible by Him?
  • How can incorporating Scriptures and prayers help us understand God’s work in worship?
  • What Scriptures might be helpful in this regard?


Kristen Gilles is a deacon at Louisville’s Sojourn Community Church. Her new CD Parker’s Mercy Brigade is a story of faith, lament, comfort, healing and worship following the stillbirth of her son. Kristen blogs about worship with her husband, Sojourn’s Bobby Gilles, at mysonginthenight.com.