5 Ways To Worship God When We Cannot SingBy Scott Hamilton
November 18, 2020
When we planted Harvest Glasgow one of my great hopes was that I would never end up standing in front of the church with a guitar in my hands and a microphone in front of my mouth. That’s what happens when you can play enough guitar to be dangerous and have a singing voice that is a marginal upgrade on a goose choking on a cracker. It is a mercy of God that He provided us with a gifted team of musicians and singers and those willing to go above and beyond to make sure that hasn’t ever had to happen. The fact that someone like me might be pressed into action as a worship leader even drifted into my mind from time to time is indicative of how important worshipping together is.
We have expressed the importance of worship in a couple of different ways over the past few years. Ultimately it boils down to this: we long for worship that turns hearts towards Jesus. That is the great goal of our singing together and it is the great challenge that COVID-19 has presented to us: How can we worship when we have lost our voice?
Worship is the context where discipleship is made memorable which makes the content crucial. It is memorable because God has wired many of us to remember musical things. It is also perhaps our most portable discipleship as people can carry a discipleship playlist in their pocket and listen freely in the home. Music is such a helpful (as well as Biblical) way to communicate Biblical truth and have people retain it. In addition, it also serves as an excellent vehicle for scripture memorization such as causes God’s Word to more deeply and widely inhabit someone’s heart.
When we sing together we get to help one another see how desperately we need Jesus. We want the songs that we sing to help us to cry out to Jesus, cling more tightly to Jesus, and change our hearts so that they are closer to Jesus. We long for urgency and authenticity in our worship. We want it to incite people to lean in, cry out, sing loud!
We want it to invite those participating to invest their whole serves in exalting Jesus. Worshipping Jesus should be marked by the taste of eternity. How can we worship like that when we have lost our voice? What happens when guidelines and public health policies direct us away from singing? What happens when we lose our voice in order to love our neighbor? What do we do with our praises in a global pandemic?
God is not surprised, restrained, or confounded by these things. We have been given pause to consider if the Lord might be about a different work in this season. Supposing we are in a season of our church family reading and meaning the songs that we sing in a deeper way. Imagine what fresh appreciation and engagement in worship might come out of the anticipated other side. Imagine if the Lord’s gift to us in this season is not just new songs but a new sense of truly singing them. Our culture is fairly conservative and it has taken time to grow our expressiveness in worship. That growth has been a source of great joy and encouragement to our leadership. But this? This is a new thing and a new opportunity. We have mapped out 5 Biblical ways that we can worship even when we don’t have the ability to use our voices.
These are 5 ‘hooks’ we are encouraging our church family to identify and lean into as songs are sung over them together in this season. Our prayer is that they will create a worship legacy in our church family that will go beyond the difficulties of this season and allow us to better declare the glories of God for years to come.
1. Clap your hands to celebrate something in the song that excites you to worship the Lord.
“Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!” Psalm 47: 1
2. Raise one hand to declare something that is true about the Lord.
“So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.” Psalm 63:4
3. Open your hands to receive something in the song from the Lord.
“Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.” Psalm 28: 2
4. Bow your knee to humble yourself before the Lord.
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Psalm 95: 6
5. Raise both hands to exalt the Lord.
“Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord!” Psalm 134: 2
If we have lost our voice, we have an opportunity to clap and raise our hands as if we are holding hands with one another united in worship of Jesus Christ. When we cannot sing, we make much of God by worshipping him with our bodies and in this way worship him in spirit and in truth.