Prophetic / Spontaneous Worship
Spontaneous worship, also known as “prophetic” worship, is all over the Scriptures. From Moses’s song to Mary’s song, Zechariah’s song and David’s psalms. Worship frequently manifests through spontaneously singing to the Lord whatever is on our heart. Watch this video with Kim Walker-Smith of Jesus Culture speaking on her experience with spontaneous worship.
“Flowing in the Spirit” is a natural effect of a life in Christ. What I mean by “flowing in the Spirit” can be described in many ways. I like the image of a surfer in the ocean catching a wave:
Through spending years in the ocean, you notice trends in the waves and can tell where they’re heading. You can notice when the current begins to change, pulling you in and letting you know when the wave is coming. Your senses have been attuned to know when the wave will reach its breaking point, and through years of practice and experience you have learned to position yourself to sit in the perfect location to catch the wave. Your senses are also keen to know when to start paddling to catch the wave in stride. Suddenly it is no longer you who are paddling – you catch the wave and the power of the wave moves you forward, directing both your speed and destination.
So it is with flowing in the Spirit. Through spending countless hours with the Lord in prayer, contemplation, Scripture, and worship, we develop our senses: discernment, wisdom, understanding. Our spirits learn to discern changes in the atmosphere. We learn to position ourselves to be vessels of God’s move, and in patience we wait for the waves to come. Wisdom and discernment guide us in moving forward as we receive revelation, the wave. Then we allow that revelation to take us wherever God is leading.
This is how we lead spontaneous worship. We develop our senses by simply spending time with God, understanding who He is and who we are in Him, knowing His personality, the ways that He moves, and just becoming familiar with our friend, father, Lord, and king. As we lead worship, we should continually wait on the wave, looking for what God wants to do with that time. Then once the atmosphere starts pulling us in, we start paddling – start singing – whatever is on our heart. We catch the wave of revelation, and let the Spirit guide us wherever He may lead.
Flowing in the Spirit is certainly not limited to leading worship either. Preaching is all about catching the wave of the Spirit as well. Some of the greatest preachers of the age could attest to this. Take for example Wesley, Finney, Spurgeon, Bounds, and even more contemporary preachers like Tozer and Ravenhill. Whether they prepared a message or preached openly, the Spirit led them, and sometimes away from their intended direction. They would often preach unscripted and unashamed, much like Paul in Acts 2. They would catch the wave in their preaching, speaking deep spiritual truth with power and authority – the power to heal the broken and change lives.
How often today, in both preaching and worship, do we rely on our own abilities to emotionally move people into an experience? A pastor of mine once told me that he knew by his speaking ability alone he could bring a room to tears if he wanted to – but that didn’t mean God was moving in it. In the same way, through my knowledge, gifting, and ability with music, I know I can provoke emotions from people. However, the goal of leading worship is not to invite an emotional response from an audience. It is to usher them into the presence of God. Any emotions ought to be in response to encountering the presence of God. Surely the aesthetic nature of music is inevitable and can be used as a window into the beautiful nature of the divine. Still, as worship leaders we must understand that being able to provoke an emotional response from people doesn’t mean that we are leading them into a spiritual encounter with God.
We must not rely on our abilities as musicians and artists, but be empowered by the Holy Spirit in our worship. We must rely on Him to direct us, flowing in the Spirit to lead people into true revelation, worshiping Him in spirit and in truth.
About the Author
Kevin Cook is a 4th year student at Asbury Theological Seminary and an Aspirant for Ordination in the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). After graduating, Kevin hopes to plant a contemporary three-streams Anglican Church. He and his wife Nicole attend Wilmore Anglican Church in Kentucky.
Kevin holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a Master of Business Administration from Florida State University. Kevin enjoys playing music and leading worship, reading fiction and spiritual classics, drinking coffee, and spending time with family and friends.
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