How to More Effectively Connect Musical Worship and Prayer
It may sound like a silly question, but have you ever found it distracting when someone stands up to pray in the middle of a worship song set? I have.
Think about it. Your morning’s already been a hassle, you’re walking into the church building much later than you intended, you get your kids situated for children’s ministry, and you finally find a seat in the worship center in the during the first song (at least you think it’s the first song). It takes you a song or two to stop thinking about the pressures of your life, and then, just when you get into a spirit of worship, some staff member comes out, stops everything, and says “Let’s pray.”
Someone’s probably asking right now, “What’s the problem? Isn’t prayer a part of worship?”
Too often the worship music and prayer are totally disconnected from one another. As church leaders, pastors, worship leaders, and pray-ers, we must take time to connect the musical worship and the prayer taking place within the worship set without destroying to the flow of worship.
To take it further, both singing and prayer are worship. Both can lead us to the throne of God. Both allow us to exalt and petition the Lord. Both are important. That being said, how much better would the entire time of corporate worship be if they didn’t function independently of one another.
That’s why worship leaders, pastors, and prayers need to take appropriate time making the spoken prayer during a worship set fit into the flow of the musical worship. If this doesn’t happen, there is a disconnect between the two.
It’s like we’re screaming out, “Stop the Worship! Let’s pray.”
I don’t want that to happen in the worship services where I’m leading, producing, or participating.
So what are some ways we can more effectively transition from worship music into prayer?
- Micro-Testimony – Before the prayer leader prays, making a 30 second connection between the theme of the song or the service and the prayer can be most helpful. This allows the prayer person to seamlessly personalize the worship, connect or reconnect disengaged people to what is happening while adding purpose to the prayer.
Here’s an example sent to me by a friend of mine:
“I had a tough week emotionally. However, God reminded me through my Bible reading this morning that “His grace is sufficient for me.” You see, not only does God’s Word sustain us, but it proves that He knows exactly where we are and what we are feeling. Let’s pray.”
- Scripture – Before the actual prayer, quoting or reading scripture that relates to both the musical worship and the prayer brings both connection and spiritual validity to both song and prayer. We are blessed to have the Word of God. We should use it, not only in our preaching, but in our prayer leading as well.
In Isaiah 55:11 (NLT), we read the following words of God:
It is the same with My Word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
If sharing God’s Word always produces fruit and will accomplish all God wants it to in a given moment, it only makes sense to use it wisely in times of corporate worship.
A great scripture to use before praying in worship is Psalm 97:1-6 (seen below in the NLT), especially if you’re focusing on the greatness or holiness of the Lord.
The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. Fire goes before Him and consumes His foes on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim His righteousness and all peoples will see His glory!
- Praying within a song. To some worshipers, it may sometimes seem as if prayer breaks up the flow of worship because it always takes place between two songs. If this is where the prayer always takes place within the worship set, the prayer person and worship leader should work together to find the perfect place within a worship song where the prayer can happen with the instrumental music playing in the background. Then, following the prayer, the worship leader can move right back into the worship song seamlessly. Even though this takes more coordination, it can certainly be worth the effort.
- Music intensity. The musical worship leader and prayer person should coordinate with each other to ensure that the music flows with the prayer. If the prayer person builds in volume and intensity, the music should build in volume and intensity to create a dynamic, electric atmosphere. If the prayer becomes more reflective and intimate, the music should diminish in volume and intensity to create a more intimate setting. The more this becomes the practice with the prayer person, the worship leader and the worship team, the more the worship team will be able to follow the prayer person naturally if the Holy Spirit leads them in different ways during the prayer.
So what’s the secret?
The person praying must prepare ahead of time. Preparing to pray something meaningful for 30-90 seconds usually takes longer than most people are willing to spend. An unprepared prayer spoken on the fly can ruin hours of preparation from the worship and technology teams. However, a well planned prayer creates a launching pad for a great God moment in our services.
The worship leader and team must be prepared for what is going to happen in the prayer time. If the music and prayer emphasis doesn’t work together, everyone in the worship center can tell. However, if the worship team knows what is going to happen, it can help build a spirit of anticipation throughout the worship center that is contagious.
Take the time to prepare your prayer and you will see results.
It may seem silly to hear that you need to pray about how you are going to pray. Isn’t prayer simply “talking with God?”
Yes, it is. But praying during a worship set is also a powerful tool God has given us to lead people deeper into His presence. He wants us to “dialogue” with Him about the best way to do this for a particular worship moment.
Besides, if a prayer is important enough to pray before tens, hundreds, or even thousands of people, isn’t it important enough to pray about?
In case anyone’s wondering, the answer is “yes.”
If you have further thoughts about how to more effectively connect musical worship and prayer, I’d love to hear your comments.