Ideas on Worship for Instrumentalists
Of all we do as instrumentalists, our highest calling is to give to God the worship He is due. As we play, there are many aspects of performance that command our attention. If we are not careful, worship can be crowded out of our heart. We can be so focused on pitch, dynamics, tempo, balance, key signatures and road maps that our Mary-like heart is over run by Martha-like details.
We can do both – worship the Lord while playing very well. The following are some ideas I have employed myself, and I teach them to my groups as well. These are for directors and players. To help us be able to worship while we play, we can:
1. Confess and repent of any sin in your life. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the condition of your heart. The only ones who can enter God’s presence are those with clean hands and a pure heart (Psalm 24:3-4). Clean hands would refer to what we do, a pure heart would be made pure by salvation in the Lord Jesus. It would also then refer to our thoughts and attitudes, about which only we and God know. There is no great talent or skill that can overcome sin in our life or make us acceptable to a holy God.
2. Before you leave home and while you’re in the car, think about coming to worship Jesus and hear from His Word. Scripture refers to this as “Setting your mind” (Colossians 3:2) – which is really choosing what to think. More than going to play, go to worship God – playing is one of the means rather than the end. Train yourself to make worship your highest priority.
3. In order to put our focus on worship, we must be well-prepared musically. If a player does not know their music, they will have to stuggle just to play it in the service – which makes it difficult to think about anything else. Preparation builds Godly confidence that allows our heart to concentrate on the Lord while we play.
4. While you are playing, let the words of the music come to your mind. If you don’t know the words (which is sometimes the case for instrumentalists since we usually don’t have the words in front of us), or there aren’t any words, set your mind on:
A. Making melody in your heart (Ephedians 5:19). This, I believe is the key to worshipping as we play. We dedicate and play our part directly to the Lord. Anything we play (assuming it is God-honoring music) can then be played to worship Him.
B. Who God is and what He has done for you. When we consider the person and works of God – our Creator, Savior, and Sustainer, the normal response of a born again person is to worship Him. God saves people in order that they may have a loving relationship with Him and give to Him the worship the He so richly deserves.
C. Letting the Lord play through you for His glory. All Christians have Jesus living inside them (Galatians 2:20). He does not want us to work for Him (which is walking in the flesh). He wants to live in and through us. So somehow as we bow, or blow, or strum, or bang – Jesus is doing it through us. Then He gets the credit (the glory).
5. Recognize and resist distractions – Don’t let anything get in the way of setting your mind for worship. When we are on mission to give to God His worship, expect Satan to try to get us off target. Lucifer was thrown out of heaven by attempting to receive the worship God alone deserves (Ezekiel 28), and He has been trying to prevent God form being worshipped ever since. When distractions come from out of the blue in a relationship, or car trouble or the like, know that you are being tempted to distraction. Don’t take the bait.
1. Worship during the week – for who He is and what He has done – He is always worthy of worship. Worship is a discipline which requires concentration. It is unlikely for a person to go through their week focused on their own lives and interests and then be able to fully focus on God in worship in a service. And sometimes our woship is during fairly stressful circumstances as we play with other players, follow a director, play the part correctly, and follow the road map – all at the correct volume for the situation.
2. While we are playing, God is the audience. We are worshippers and worship leaders. The people in the congregation are worshippers. We do not play to get applause, or some kind of the reaction from the people there. Any music not directed to the Lord is not worship at all. We do not play because we want to. We do not play music to reach people, or choose music we think people like or want. We play because God calls us to – and we play music that pleases Him.
3. Our motivation is obedience, with hearts of love and gratitude to the Lord. We do not play out of obligation, or tradition, or loyalty to any leader. We come in answer to God’s call to play our instruments in worship of the Most High.