I'm often asked how to experience God on a regular basis. I do believe there's an answer, but it's not a simple one.
There's a phenomenal opportunity available to every legitimate follower of Jesus: an indescribable and life-rocking encounter with an invisible, all-powerful Deity. Sadly so few do what's necessary to live in this realm where the Holy Spirit reveals his shock and awe to the children of God.
It seems so many are satisfied living a typical, logical life in the natural realm. The idea that we can be overwhelmed by a Spirit and experience unimaginable manifestations that only exist beyond where our eyes and ears can discern is silliness to them. Twilight Zone. X-Files. Science fiction.
Yet, to others, it's not far-reaching at all. They yearn to meet God in this place but they don't know how to get there. It's those hungry people I'd like to try to encourage.
THE RECIPE FOR ENCOUNTER
RAW, RISKY BELIEF
5 …so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:5 (ESV)
Intellectualism may be the greatest killer of faith and supernatural encounter among those who are truly living for the Lord. Their left-brained approach to invisible and mystical realities rarely works. When it does, you usually have to take the long way around.
My passion is for God to encounter me in ways my natural, logical, intellectual capacities could never predict, gauge or moderate. The moment I limit this to my own understanding or my careful analysis is the moment I've diminished my hope of moving into that spiritual realm that exists beyond what can be grasped.
The “I have to see it to believe it” mantra doesn't work in a “walk by faith, not by sight” Kingdom. Having to understand it before seeing it doesn't usually work very well either.
Of course, I'm not proposing a renunciation of the pursuit of understanding. However, when logical understanding must come first, before the other-worldly revelation that God wants us to experience, we short circuit the supernatural happenings.
While many would argue that seeing is believing, for Christians the opposite is true. Believing is seeing…and encountering, and being shocked by the fire and power of the Holy Spirit!
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)
I'll never forget the night many years ago that changed my life. I witnessed God doing remarkable things in the lives of some of my friends. These seemingly normal American guys who were grunting on the basketball court and staying up to all hours playing video games were also undone by an unseen force. I'd watch them weeping in prayer, pacing the church and crying out to God for him to move. These people had tapped into something that I convinced wasn't invented. It wasn't fake. It was real and I had to meet God they way they had.
Alone one night, I paced around the youth room of the church, feeling nothing but desperation. I prayed a simple prayer, the only one I could. “God, you know my heart.” That's it. Over and over I was talking to God using those words, revealing the depths of my hunger in a simple statement. God knew how deeply I desired to know him.
The rest is history. My eternity has forever been altered by that simple yet overwhelming prayer. Shortly after, he flooded into my life in a way that could never be described by using human words, though I'll try. Extreme boldness replaced timidity in a split second. A tangible force shook my being. Passion for Jesus was instantaneous. There was a power source connected to me and I was radiating with fire.
I didn't seek to understand what I was pursuing. I was simply desperate. Hungry. Willing to surrender all. In fact, I told God in the days preceding this momentous experience that I didn't want anything to do with him if he “wasn't all that he was cracked up to be.” I wasn't interested in fairy tales or following some religious icon who didn't heal, couldn't deliver and wasn't omnipotent, good and alive. However, I also said, “But if you are all of this, I will die for you.”
While an initial encounter may not require a disciplined life of intercession, I've discovered that a regular, continual encounter with Jesus absolutely does. It's in the place of fervent, fiery prayer, especially praying in tongues, where the presence of God is constant, and very often extremely intense.
Some may wonder why it's so important to contend for encounter. They may see it as unnecessary and possibly even evidence of an imbalanced or immature person, someone who is driven by emotions or strange, mystical rushes of adrenaline. Oh my, this couldn't be further from the truth. Encounter is absolutely necessary for every blood-bought Christian.
As we walk in great faith and hunger with great desperation, the cries of our heart and the intercession of the Holy Spirit through us will launch us into the place where God can be clearly heard. We can discern his heart. He can reveal mysteries to us. Critical information, some of life and death, is transmitted to us through impressions, dreams, visions or other prophetic means. Simply, if we aren't living in encounter, we are tragically limited to our own understanding, the very understanding the Bible instructs us not to lean on.
But, as we pray in the Spirit, everything changes. The heavens open. God's voice resounds. An inner tremble shakes within. Our daily lives become adventures as God takes the reigns and gives us direction that can only be received via the Spirit.
God resists the proud. This is why I firmly believe the gateway to deeper levels in the Spirit includes many opportunities for humiliation.
I'll never forget meeting a young lady at an event who was a part of another church. She told me she so wanted to experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but had no idea how to do so. She was unpretentious and authentic as she shared her expectancy for what was going to happen at the worship conference we all converged at in Los Angeles.
I don't have space to explain what happened the next night other than to say, this hungry young lady was suddenly, without warning, flopping all over the ground as strange and wonderful new sounds were exploding from her mouth. God's activity in that moment hit her and many others, including myself. I was suddenly on the floor experiencing an extremely weighty manifestation of God's glory that wouldn't dissipate until the next day. The presence of God in that moment was something I can still remember, though it's been over twenty years since it happened.
Humility caused this young lady to dismiss how she might look to the hundreds of people all around as supernatural God invaded her natural self. She wanted God. She was hungry at a level few experience. She was filled.
If you think a very Holy Spirit is going to brood over you and manifest in and through you as you are living an unholy life, you have been terribly deceived. Holiness is absolutely mandatory if we have any hope of God moving remarkably in our lives. This is such common sense, yet so many Christians can't understand why they aren't being consumed by God's Holy Spirit.
You simply cannot watch movies, TV and other media that contains foul language, nudity, coarse joking and other immorality and think you are a candidate for encounter. You are kidding yourself. In fact, why would you want the Holy Spirit if that's your chosen lifestyle? You are only inviting conviction if not judgment.
I encourage everybody to eliminate all secular music and listen to nothing but anointed worship music. I even suggest doing away with most contemporary Christian music and pumping music through their headphones that carries the unusual fire and glory of God.
Those who have taken me up on this, time after time, experience dramatic breakthrough. Those who don't tend to trend downwards.
14 …For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14 (ESV)
Possibly the quickest shortcut to living a life of dramatic, supernatural encounter with God is to sign up as a martyr.
We are called to die daily, to take up our crosses and to love life not unto death. This is our portion as Christians. The key moment in my personal life came shortly after my initial encounter I described above. Do you remember that I told God I'd die for him? He was listening.
From my article Risks of the Upcoming Presence Movement:
One night my life changed forever. In the midst of my amazing daily encounters with Jesus, I found myself in a prayer room at a youth lock-in in Dayton, Ohio. While 300 students were playing volleyball and basketball I was alone in a dark, glorious room overlooking the skyline of the city. God was waiting for me when I waked in.
I paced around praying and worshiping as the presence of God swirled all around me. I never wanted to leave.
Suddenly, as I was enjoying God, walking back and forth in his manifest presence, I heard a voice, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”
I was irritated. My focus on loving Jesus was interrupted by someone with what felt like a terribly different agenda. Little did I know, it was an agenda to grow me up and gauge my devotion.
I shook off that distracting voice, and attempted to enter back into the glory realm. I prayed and worshiped, but the presence of God was completely gone—or so I thought.
Again I heard, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”
Though I clearly understood I was being asked to give my life for Jesus, my emotions were negative. I was distraught, irritated, lonely and even afraid. My enjoyment was gone. However, what I didn’t realize was this—my feelings were not sufficient to analyze the situation. God’s presence had actually increased exponentially in that room of destiny, not dissipated. The fearful judge had arrived and he meant business.
Though I tried to enter back into worship again, it was futile. I heard the voice one more time, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”
Finally, in a state of lonely desperation, I realized I couldn’t live my life without the fire of Jesus burning within me. I needed him. I wanted him, even if it meant the loss of my physical life.
Understand, I was convinced that I was going to physically die that night. It was very real to me.
I told God, “I can’t live without you. If my death will result in the advance of your Kingdom, I give you permission to take my life tonight.”
The moment I said that, his manifest glory flooded the room about one hundred times greater than I had experienced it before. I had experienced the glory and the severity of God, and I was forever changed.
ZEAL FOR THE WORD OF GOD
As I reveal the final ingredient of the secret sauce of encounter, I can feel the naysayers breathing down my neck right now. They are riled up at the thought of focusing on the experiential, on the suggestion that faith trumps logic, on the mystical, invisible and on what they would call hyper-Charismatic fluff.
I'll try to put them at ease. Nothing I am proposing can defy Scriptural truth. If there's ever a contradiction, it must be eliminated. This means that we must be students of the Word. There should be a burning zeal in us for the powerful, eternal and non-negotiable truths of Scripture.
However, while many would hold up the giant family Bible in the air as a defense against the supposed superstition that I'm dealing with here, true Bereans will excitedly search the Word to see what powerful revelations it holds.
From my article What To Do When We Hear Rumors Of Revival:
11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened. Luke 24:11-12 (ESV)
Belief and expectancy will result in running as a result of any news that God has moved with great passion. Doubt will always result in resistance, staying away and embracing suspicion.
I often hear about the concept of being a Berean from some who may be considered heresy hunters. Those who are deeply suspicious of any report of a fresh move of God often attempt to disguise their unbelief and mocking spirit with a religious cloak. They say, I’m just being a Berean.
People driven by a false Berean attitude hear a report of a possible revival or outpouring and their immediate response is to discredit it. They pull out scriptures that supposedly renounce any new move of God and declare the participants to be misguided at best, heretics at worst. Others may take a less direct approach by holding back, waiting to see if it passes muster.
That, my friend, is not being a Berean.
I agree that we must be based on the Word of God more intentionally than ever in history. There is too much foolishness out there today in the name of revival. The answer is a people who are sensitive to the Holy Spirit and firmly grounded as students in the Bible.
However, I don’t agree that our immediate response to a potential fresh outpouring of the Spirit of God should be suspicion! This attitude can affect even the most godly of people. It’s all too easy to immediately doubt that such a move could be anything more than overreaching hope, hype or sensationalism.
I propose we all have the heart of a true Berean.
Before the stop at Berea, Paul preached about a powerful fresh move of God at Thessalonica. I believe heresy hunters are actually more like the Thessalonians than the Bereans:
2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. 5 But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. 6 And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, 7 and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” Acts 17:2-7 (ESV)
There was an urgent and immediate rejection of the report of resurrection power. Let’s contrast this with the pure hearts of the Bereans:
10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds. Acts 17:10-13 (ESV)
This is a powerful passage of scripture!
The Bereans were more noble than those in Thessalonica. This is an important point! Why were they more noble? When they heard the report of a powerful, transforming, new move of God that would change everything in their lives, they received the word with all eagerness!
Their response was not scrutiny, unbelief, jealousy or resistance. They were excited to hear the news! They were so impacted by the potential of such a report that they immediately dove into the Word with the hope of confirming—not disproving—the life altering revelation!
But then, in verse 13, we see the unrelenting Thessalonians actually traveling to Berea to gather people to them in opposition to what God was doing there.
I hope you are truly ready for revival. This is what it looks like. The resistors will show up in force.
The question that needs to be answered is, which camp will you be in? Are you a scrutinizing Thessalonian or an eager Berean?
Idolizing people has forever been the norm in the world. Sadly, the church is catching up, and fast.
9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)
For as long as any of us can remember, adoration of celebrities, athletes and others in the public eye has been rampant in our society. Kids and adults alike are endeavoring to become Instagram and YouTube famous. The red carpet, paparazzi life is the dream for many. Others are satisfied being awestruck and starstruck.
Yes, this article is about people worship, but it's not really about the run-of-the-mill movie star fantasy. I'm going to take it a level deeper.
BOTH THE WORLD AND THE CHURCH ARE GUILTY
The hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. Ecclesiastes 9:3 (ESV)
Looking beyond the glitz and glamour we will discover a wicked and brilliant strategy of the enemy to exalt mankind, and, in process, destroy all who are seduced.
Our current generation, both the lost and the redeemed, has elevated mere humans into a status just south of deity.
Tolerance has been the mantra of our secular society for the last decade. This demonic game plan has been wildly successful as what was once clearly an abomination has been established as normal and protected. People who embrace deviant ideologies are not only guarded but promoted. The argument is that people are supreme and their lifestyles, no matter what the Word of God has to say on the matter, are valid.
In the church we see the same mindset manifesting in a different way. For many, evangelism has shifted in recent years from calling people out of sin to communicating how wonderful they are. Again, the focus is on their supposed value as opposed to their hopelessness and depraved state.
The message is simply, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” The Gospel message, however, is much more comprehensive—and confrontational—than that. Would Jesus have died for a single person? I believe he would have. I believe his desire is to be in relationship with us and it grieves him deeply when people reject that invitation. That being said, we have to understand that it's not about our value. It's God's value that should be driving the conversation.
OUR GAZE MUST SHIFT
17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Revelation 3:17 (ESV)
It's time we shift our gaze from the mirror to the throne. Or, at least clearly see just what the mirror is revealing when we are self-focused instead of gazing upon the glory of God. Nakedness. Blindness. Wretchedness. The world doesn't know God, so it makes sense, as sad and maddening as it is, that they are given to self-worship and to idolizing people. We as the church should know better.
Have you noticed how worship songs have changed in recent years? Instead of mostly being about the greatness of God, so many are choruses to the wonder of mankind. The beautiful music can turn ugly quite fast when hands are lifted and eyes are closed as the congregation sings boldly about how great they are instead of how great God is.
The identity crisis in the church has resulted in a musical pep talk in an attempt to raise the spirits of people who don't know who they are. I would suggest instead that we become okay with the truth of our human condition and then, with all eyes keenly focused on Jesus, we discover our identity in him.
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…”
We aren't wonderful people who would benefit from discovering just how much God adores us. We are wretches, people who are fully hopeless, given to wickedness and children of the devil who will end up in Hell one day unless we repent. How glorious is it that God's love explodes through us the moment we surrender! The intimate, other-worldly relationship that follows such a radical and zealous decision to renounce the darkness and to give up our selfish pursuits is phenomenal!
I propose we can't get from point A (wretchedness, wickedness, hopelessness) to point B (repentance, surrender and life in Jesus) unless we honestly come to terms with who we are and what we've done. We aren't to be worshiped. We aren't to be adored. We are evil and our sin is an abomination. God's wrath remains on us. We deserve death.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Romans 1:18 (ESV)
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV)
If we have to convince people to “get saved” by revealing how giddy God is about them, I would suggest many of those salvations are illegitimate. Invalid. It never happened.
When we truly follow Jesus, everything changes. We die daily and we discover our identity in Jesus. We are seated in heavenly places with Jesus. We are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath. These realities are not evidences of how great we are, but how great God is.
The world has been seduced by the enemy as it worships and protects people in most any identity they adopt, unless that identity is in Jesus. We need broken, humble and surrendered Believers who are no longer identified as sinners, but as saints. People who die every day, who exalt Jesus and not self, who stand for truth and righteousness no matter the cost.
When we pull down strongholds and expose the wicked altars in our culture we will be mercilessly assaulted. When we refuse to worship or even acknowledge the evil, self-centered identities that society places great value on, we will be targeted.
That's okay. It's not about us. It's about Jesus.
It's time we stop worshiping people. The song isn't, “I exalt me.” It's…
For Thou, O Lord, art high above all the earth
Thou art exalted far above all gods
For Thou, O Lord, art high above all the earth
Thou art exalted far above all godsI exalt Thee, I exalt Thee
I exalt Thee, O Lord
I exalt Thee, I exalt Thee
I exalt Thee, O Lord
Satan has a plan to infiltrate and defile the modern worship movement.
Theologians believe that Lucifer was the worship leader in heaven, in the very presence of God. He was exceedingly beautiful and endowed with special abilities. As we see in the passage from Isaiah 14, Lucifer looked upon his own beauty and wisdom – attributes created in him by the Lord – and he decided that he would raise his throne above God. He foolishly declared, “I will make myself like the Most High.” ~CBN
Luciferianism is a belief system that venerates the essential characteristics that are affixed to Lucifer. The tradition, influenced by Gnosticism, usually reveres Lucifer not as the devil, but as a liberator, a guardian or guiding spirit or even the true god as opposed to Jehovah. For Luciferians, enlightenment is the ultimate goal. ~Wikipedia
As one who lives much of my life with headphones on, including as I write this article, with anointed worship music being pumped into my spirit night and day, this is a challenging message to deliver. It’s challenging due to the fact that I highly revere the anointing that rests on so much of today’s and yesterday’s worship music. It disturbs me that such an article would even be necessary. The obvious argument would highlight the overt evil, immorality and demonic culture we live in, and the filth in media that results. The argument would declare it’s highly inappropriate to attack music that, in comparison, should be celebrated.
I concur that the majority of music and media today is offensive and a stench in the nostrils of God. I also agree that we must encourage all to flood their lives with truly anointed media including worship music. For years, my prescription for people who have come to me confessing struggle in their walk with God was to eliminate all media for a season that was not explicitly anointed, worshipful and godly. In fact, I’d go so far as to ask them to consider turning off even contemporary Christian music (or whatever else they enjoyed) and take in a steady diet of Vineyard (my favorite back in the day) or other worship music for a month.
Without fail, those who took me up on my experiment reported powerful breakthrough while those who did not continued to struggle. Worship music anointed by the Holy Spirit is more powerful than we might realize. So is music that’s anointed by Lucifer.
A recent, related article that I wrote for Charisma Media has been shared over 50 thousand times from their site alone. Worship Leaders Must Take a Stand Against Homosexuality addresses the need for holiness in worship leaders, and it was a call for them to make a vocal stand in opposition to the spirit of the age. Why is this important? Because the theological and moral positions of our worship leaders will directly impact the advance of revival and the Kingdom. Additionally, the enemy, just as he did in the very beginning, is looking to seduce today’s spiritual generation by subtly twisting worship music just enough so that it takes on his anointing instead of God’s.
THREE WAYS LUCIFER CAN INFILTRATE WORSHIP MUSIC
Many people wrongly believe that the worship leader’s theology is unimportant. The train of thought is that the Senior Pastor is the gatekeeper regarding theology in the local church and the worship leader plays a lesser, supporting role. All we have to do is jump back a bunch of years to see that the Great Gatekeeper, God himself, was assaulted and his mission was radically damaged.
“How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you. They will ponder over you, saying, ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a wilderness and overthrew its cities, who did not allow his prisoners to go home?'” (Isaiah 14:12-18)
Lucifer, the worship leader, was not unified with God and truth was violated. God himself couldn’t (or didn’t) stop what happened next:
- One third of the angels fell with Lucifer.
- Countless millions of humans will burn in the Hell that was made for him after he was cast out of Heaven.
Bad theology in your worship leader can easily lead to many others in the church succumbing to the deception.
Your heart was proud because of your beauty;
you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. (Ezekiel 28:17)
The mix of pride and beauty can be extremely seductive. I think we’d all admit there are worship leaders we absolutely love. Their music, their stage presence, their passion is all extremely attractive. For those who are truly humble and godly, there is nothing wrong with that. However, for those who embrace theologies and belief systems that are unbiblical, their anointing will remain—but the source of the anointing will change. The music, stage presence and passion will be as compelling as ever, but the truth will not be what is driving their worship. Bad doctrine compromises anointing.
You would be shocked at how many worship leaders (and pastors for that matter) affirm the grisly act of abortion. Others have been conditioned by false-grace doctrines, supposed “gay Christianity,” prosperity, me-centered theologies and other beliefs.
For many, the goal of a worship experience is enlightenment. To tap into another realm and experience the supernatural isn’t bad. It’s good, as long as it’s the right realm. Unfortunately, too many simply want the high regardless of just what anointing exists there. This is Lucifer’s goal. Seduce with enlightenment and trap people with what the biblically compromised worship leader is offering.
They retain their “beauty,” the enlightenment is powerful and their attraction is intense. However, their anointing can be very dangerous indeed.
TWO: Secret Life
Worship leading should not be the primary job description of worship leaders. It should be the natural outflow of a life of intense, continual prayer. Praying in the spirit night and day must be job one for all of us, and especially those who are supposing to lead us into an encounter with a holy God.
It should be obvious that we cannot lead people where we have not gone. I propose many of today’s worship leaders are simply pointing people to the holy place instead of going ahead of them and leading them there.
One of my favorite takeaways from my time at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City was the worship culture. Every day, the worship teams spent hours in the prayer room, praying, studying the Word, pacing around the room crying out to God, and only then would they take the stage. Only then would they truly have something to offer. Only then could they hope to lead people into the encounter they just had with God. The result is powerful, often spontaneous songs that are deep and spiritual alive instead of the karaoke worship we are all so used to.
On the contrary, so many of Sunday morning’s worship leaders and musicians are taking the stage after possibly saying a quick, casual prayer together, and often after spending many prayerless days. Many are coming off a Saturday night that was filled with unholy media and movies. Others are secretly struggling with sins—while others aren’t struggling at all. They are embracing a sinful lifestyle wholeheartedly.
Decades later, I’m still shocked at the times early in my Christian walk when I witnessed worship leaders, pastors and others in the church casually enjoying vile, R-rated movies or listening to music that is unholy. They’d fill their lives with the pleasure of the day, every single day, and then sing and preach in God’s house of prayer. My spirit is sickened.
Sadly, the church has become so desensitized that we can’t tell when the anointing has departed.
The secret lives of worship leaders absolutely can result in Ichabod being hung above the doorposts of the church.
And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured… (1 Sam 4:21)
Do we even understand the cost involved in hosting the ark of God today?
Does anybody else notice the trend in worship music toward the glorification of man?
Benefits, our position, our experience…shouted in song after song.
We need to get back to God-centered lyrics that proclaim his goodness!
- “We exalt thee! We exalt thee! We exalt thee, oh Lord!”
- “All hail the power of Jesus’ Name! Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.”
- “Blessing and honor, glory and power
Be unto the Ancient of Days
From every nation, all of creation,
Bow before the Ancient of Days
Every tongue in heaven and earth shall declare Your glory
Every knee shall bow at your throne in worship
You will be exalted O God
And Your kingdom shall not pass away
O Ancient of Days”
- “Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?”
Friend, it’s not about us! It’s not about our benefits! It’s not even as much about how much God loves us as it is about how much we love him!
Imagine writing a love song for your spouse, and then passionately singing it to them. Imagine the lyrics were all about how much he or she loves you instead of how deeply you are in love with them. That would be bizarre! We need to exalt God a lot more than we do celebrating his love for us.
It is becoming more and more common to hear worship lyrics (and contemporary Christian music lyrics) that are either wishy-washy and watered down or simply not biblical at all.
LET’S INITIATE A TRUE WORSHIP MOVEMENT
There is a true worship movement that emphasizes our death and exalts God that will shake the foundations of the earth!
As we live lives of humility, deep prayer and holiness, the music that comes out of this movement will cause demons to flee!
Worship leaders, I plead with you, don’t allow your beauty and your passion to lead the people God has given you to serve. Lead from your knees, from the prayer room, from that secret place of intercession. Only then will you have what is necessary to set the captives free and introduce a troubled and demon-assaulted generation to the love and power of a holy God!
And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him. (1 Sam 16:23)
The enemy is looking for a back door into the church—through worship teams.
Both in Colorado Springs and Detroit I had the privilege of giving some leadership to remarkable prayer movements. Every Friday from 10pm until midnight we would gather hungry people from the region to pray in tongues. We’d spread out and pray boldly through the sanctuary, on the platform, in classrooms and outside. The roar of intercession was intense.
The focus each week was to bless the ministry and to partner with them in their mission. At times we’d have over 200 people squeezing into a property designed for 30! I was always thrilled when the pastor and his core team would show up in force. I was always confused when a secretary or janitor would unlock the door for us and then disappear into another part of the property.
The night of the experience I am about to share with you, from what I can remember, included nobody from the host church. However, scores of fiery zealots from all over the region were praying with passion.
In the midst of pacing and praying, one of the other leaders called me over. He said, “John, go walk through the baptismal.” I was perplexed and asked why. He encouraged me to just do it. The baptismal was empty and positioned behind the platform. While praying in the Spirit, I walked down into the vessel designed for introducing people into a life-altering eternity with Jesus. I gagged. I felt sick. The swirl of demons in that very spot was so overwhelming that I was shocked. I Slowly walked through, praying and attempting to analyze what was happening in the invisible realm. I emerged on the other side and approached my friend. With my eyes wide open and shock on my face, I said, “What in the world was that?” He smiled (not a happy smile, but one that indicated bewilderment) and said, “I told you something was going on there.”
We didn’t share the experience with anybody there and simply prayed and took authority.
Very shortly after that night, it was discovered that the worship leader of that church had been involved in homosexual relationships. The memory of my walk through that baptismal tank caused me to grieve.
WORSHIP LEADERS MUST MAKE THEIR POSITION KNOWN
Its expected for today’s righteous pastors and leaders to take a stand and to oppose all wickedness, including homosexuality. Sadly, fewer and fewer are, but that’s an article for another day. Today we need to talk about the responsibility of worship leaders and those on worship teams to stand for truth.
It’s quite uncommon to hear from worship leaders regarding their doctrinal positions. They are a vulnerable vehicle for the enemy to deliver his next assault in the church through.
On one of the largest stages in the nation, Carrie Underwood was invited to participate in the latest Passion Conference. She belted out Amazing Grace along side Crowder in front of thousands of worshipers. What many didn’t realize is Carrie is a supporter of homosexual rights.
From a recent Charisma News article:
“The controversy is why would Louie Giglio put someone in front of millennials—who are struggling with this issue—who is basically saying that the Bible is not true in what it says about homosexuality,” American Family Association Ed Vitagliano says.
“[There is a] growing strain within the evangelical community that is denying the truth of Scripture,” he continued.
“Our church is gay friendly,” she explains. “Above all, God wanted us to love others. It's not about setting rules, or ‘everyone has to be like me.' No. We're all different. That's what makes us special. We have to love each other and get on with each other. It's not up to me to judge anybody.”
She also said:
“As a married person myself, I don’t know what it’s like to be told I can’t marry somebody I love, and want to marry. I can’t imagine how that must feel. I definitely think we should all have the right to love, and love publicly, the people that we want to love.”
ETERNITY IS AT STAKE
This isn’t about debating about differing theological viewpoints. This argument isn’t even an argument. It’s settled. The Bible is clear. Eternity is at risk.
It goes down like vinegar, but the truth remains, those who support homosexuality can’t presume to be saved. They will experience horrifying torment in Hell forever. We have to let that sink in.
Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Rom 1:32
If we are allowing worship leaders to minister in the name of God while endorsing homosexuality or other wickedness not only are we aligning with extremely powerful demonic spirits at they ramp up their assault on millions, we are stepping aside, allowing people to be put at extreme risk of Hell.
Entire churches risk having Ichabod posted above the doorposts because of leaders, including worship leaders, who are inviting unholy spirits to take residence through their alliance with them. Simply, when we agree with a doctrine of demons, we become a partner with them. We align ourselves with them and give their evil war power and strength.
THIS IS A PROPHETIC MESSAGE FOR TODAY
I sense strongly that God is attempting to awaken worship leaders who are toying with spiritual death, and he is also attempting to strengthen his holy army of worship warriors. He’s looking for those anointed men and women of God who are partnering with him in holiness and who are taking their call to lead people in worship of a fearful, holy God seriously and soberly.
I don’t know about you, but it is important to me to know just what a worship leader believes. I’m often troubled with the doctrine that’s coming through in the lyrics of much of today’s popular worship music. However, this prophetic call takes us down a very specific path. We have to understand the enemy is attempting to normalize homosexuality in churches. What better strategy than to anoint those who are leading people into a spiritual/emotional place. I’ve heard people support homosexuality by saying, “Don’t you feel God’s presence when we worship? We consider that his endorsement of our position on homosexuality.”
Respectfully and with great honor, send this message to your worship leader and your pastor. Pray for them. Collectively lets encourage worship leaders to make their positions on morality and biblical truth clear.
The church, revival and eternity are all at risk.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9–10
15 spots remain! Burning ones are gathering together in Branson, Missouri TOMORROW, Friday, August 14th for a night of FIRE!
It’s finally here!
Tomorrow is going to be a night to remember as we burn hot, contend for revival and encounter the LIVING GOD together in Branson!
There are 15 spots left if you would like to register.
We are limited to the first 120 registrations due to the venue size, so if you plan on attending you MUST register. The registration form will be removed when all spots are filled.
Register here: http://www.carriersoffire.org/unusual
Have you registered? The UNUSUAL event is capped at 120 total people, and nearly ONE HALF are already taken!
AN UNUSUAL EVENT: BRANSON, MISSOURI
The remnant Bride is gathering together in Branson, Missouri for a night of FIRE in God’s radiant presence on Friday, August 14th, 2015 starting at 7pm.
The night will be marked by a passionate, high energy and fervent atmosphere of praying in the Spirit, abandoned worship, piercing messages of awakening.
You will be branded by fire and undone by the heart of God as he reveals his passions to you.
From beginning to end the joy and the severity of God will be before us. In fact, it all begins an hour before the official start time as we light a raging fire of intercession in pre-service prayer.
You SIMPLY CANNOT MISS this earth shaking event!
ALSO COMING SOON—PRAYER IN THE CAVE!
We are still working on securing the cave here in Branson, Missouri, but I wanted to alert you that it will be coming very soon—possibly the middle of July!
We walk about 15 minutes down under the surface of the earth, turn out the lights and contend in perfect darkness for 4-5 hours in fervent prayer!
You will discover how easy it is to encounter God, to hear his voice and to have a DRAMATICALLY SUCCESSFUL PRAYER LIFE!
The prayer model we use is the 100% EFFECTIVE PRAYER MODEL based on my book Revelation Driven Prayer.
You can’t register yet…BUT, PLEASE CONTACT ME and let me know that you want to come. I’ll alert you when the registration opens! Contact me directly at email@example.com.
ONLY 30 SPOTS FOR PRAYER IN THE CAVE ARE AVAILABLE…AND AT LEAST 1/2 OF THEM ARE SPOKEN FOR!
Branson, Missouri Church: An introduction to King’s Chapel, a Spirit-filled church in Branson, Missouri
Branson Church: As many of you are aware, my family and I recently moved to Branson, Missouri, which meant we would be praying for a new, passionate, Spirit-filled, prayer-driven Branson church to call home.
I found myself craving to dive into a new Branson church experience the moment I arrived on scene. I couldn’t imagine taking any time out, away from the church gathering, even though we’ve been in the crazy world of church leadership for so many years leading up to this! I wasn’t in the mood to church shop (which I really don’t believe in anyway), so I prayed, “God, let’s get this done. At least give us a place where we can visit that’s on fire—a church in Branson that is invested in revival, prayer and what God wants in this region. I don’t want to spend weeks trying to find that place. Amen!”
That was a Sunday afternoon. I searched the web and stumbled upon King’s Chapel Branson. I saw that they had Sunday evening services (which, sadly, are so rare today!). Then I noticed that their public gatherings didn’t begin until the next week. So, I emailed them and introduced myself and then took a nice, long nap on the couch. I woke up a few minutes before 6pm and checked my email. One of the leaders of King’s Chapel responded to my message and invited us to come to their final house meeting before moving to their new location. I shook myself awake and alert, grabbed Jet (my 8 year old) and cruised down to their house. We were about ten minutes late, but it didn’t matter—the moment I walked through the door of their home near downtown Branson I was enveloped by the presence of the Holy Spirit. I instantly knew I had walked into something special.
God answered my prayer, sent up just a few hours prior, and I was visiting a new Branson church plant that was burning for revival.
While we will certainly be connecting with a variety of Branson churches and ministries as we serve the mission of revival in the Branson, Missouri region, it was important that we would find a primary church home, a church family where we could connect, plant and grow. While we are just a few weeks into the process of prayerfully searching for that church, King’s Chapel in Branson has emerged as a wonderful surprise for us—as a place of refreshing and passion, of wind and fire—and we are excited about getting to know their team, vision and passions in deeper ways.
Just what has been evident thus far? They love Jesus. A lot. They value God’s presence. They are zealous for an outpouring in Branson, Missouri and the nations. They are a church on fire. They are real, raw, hungry and determined to see the people of this new Branson church impacted by the love and power of the Holy Spirit. They are legit.
A NEW BRANSON CHURCH PLANT
King’s Chapel is a new Branson church plant that just recently moved from their home into their first public gathering place, the Branson Community Center, at 201 Compton Dr. Branson, MO 65616. They meet Sunday at 10am and 6pm, and I encourage you to enjoy both services. It’s a powerful way to spend a Sunday!
There are also life groups, youth meetings, prayer meetings and other events throughout the week.
Pastors Chris and Melissa Davis are seasoned veterans in ministry, and it shows. They are humble, focused, excellent communicators and they hold nothing back when it comes to expressing their love for Jesus and for people. I am humbled by their gifts and determination to impact lives for Jesus. I believe they will have dramatic impact in Branson and it would do you well to meet them and their amazing team.
Additionally, my kids have thoroughly enjoyed the strong focus they have on youth and children’s ministry. Amy and I are so blessed that they have a place to discover more of Jesus with a band of other young zealots and emerging leaders!
The times of worship have been powerful, deep and radically anointed. Jesus moves powerfully among the people as their team leads us into his presence through abandoned worship. It’s not a show. It’s not about the presentation. It’s all about the church exalting our Majesty, King Jesus as one.
King's Chapel Branson is an extension of King's Cathedral in Maui, Hawaii, pastored by Dr. James Marocco. What began in 1980 as a small church on a small island, has now grown to over 100 sites worldwide. We are one church in many locations from Alaska to Tahiti, Japan to Spain, and Seattle to one of our newest, right here in Branson, Missouri!
Branson Pastors Chris and Melissa Davis have been serving with King's Cathedral and Chapels for over 25 years, previously in both Maui and Dallas. They have a vision to see the kingdom of God expand in Branson and the surrounding areas, bringing life, healing and a fresh flow of the Spirit of God. They are anointed speakers and worship leaders, traveling extensively, training teams and producing productions. They have produced 13 albums and Chris' songs have been recorded by Integrity Music, Brentwood Music, and many others. He has also written ten original musicals, which have been performed in churches across the U.S. as well as in other nations. They have three children, Austin and wife Genevieve, Dillon and Madison.
KING’S CHAPEL BRANSON STAFF
Minister Pua has grown up in KC since she was twelve years-old and believes in raising up a generation of world-changers. Her desire is to see the children and youth of this generation know Jesus intimately and be able to release His love to others.
Worship & Media Ministries
Minister Darron has been a worship leader for 15 years and on staff of KC for 7. He has a deep passion for worship and seeing people released in their God-given talents in worship arts. He used to play the clarinet and hates celery.
Contact this Spirit-filled Branson Church: King’s Chapel Branson:
If you’d like more info about this amazing Spirit-filled, revival-minded Branson church, contact them or get in touch with me.
*An added perk is that the team hails from Hawaii, and I bet a ministry trip to the islands just may be in my future! Well, at least a vacation anyway!
King’s Chapel, Branson, Missouri | www.kcbranson.com | A Spirit-Filled Branson Church
6 keys to living free from the torment of sin
I’m encouraged by so many of the replies I received from my recent Charisma Magazine series of articles.
People are becoming awakened to their own depravity, and instead of hiding behind the false comfort of unbiblical grace, they are aggressively dealing with their sin. The grace of God absolutely can set us free not only from the penalty of sin but from the act of sin. We can be fully free indeed!
I’m finding myself responding to email after email with the same response to the same question. People are yearning to be liberated from the prison of sinful patterns in their lives—patterns that absolutely do put our salvation at risk if not met head on with the grace and blood of Jesus.
This is why a life of repentance is so beautiful! It leads us right to the cross of Christ. His applied blood completely eradicates every impurity!
This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:28 (NIV)
I hear from a lot of people who testify to the power of sin in their lives. They proclaim that they are sinners saved by grace, and that Christians can expect to sin often, every day, for the rest of their lives. No! This is a doctrine of demons that has been embraced by multitudes of defeated Christians.
We are saints saved by grace! We have been given the power to live free from the traps of sin and we can expect to walk in daily sanctification unto holiness. We can absolutely, without question, be free to decide against sin. We should not—must not—sin regularly. What a disgrace to grace that would be!
So, just how can we take steps toward a life free from sin?
It’s simple, but not easy:
1. RESOLVE THE LOVE ISSUE
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:9-11 (ESV)
It’s shocking how many people question and doubt the absolute truth that they don’t have to earn God’s love. The true is that we don’t earn it, we abide in it.
When they sin the immediate accusation is that we have failed to the degree that God is now angry, offended and aggressively building walls around his heart so we can’t get near—until we prove to him that we are again worthy of his affection.
What a horrid way to live! When we fail, God is not surprised. He doesn’t approve of our failure, but he doesn’t pass out from shock. He’s not gossiping behind our backs about what we just did. He’s not shunning us until we pay our dues to get back into the club of the redeemed.
Yes, sin is serious and sin is deadly but we have to know that God is burning with passionate love for us and is there to restore us! If we understand this we won’t have to spend a “sufficient” amount of time feeling guilty and shamed until we can crawl back up into his lap.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 1 John 2:1 (ESV)
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation– if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV)
2. PRAY ALWAYS
…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. 6:18 (ESV)
This one is simple but not easy. Without having a life of continual, fervent prayer that’s driven supernaturally by the Holy Spirit, our hope of living free from sin is slight.
Long ago as a young burning one for Jesus I worked at a car wash along with several yet to be redeemed people. Everything about that job was negative. The pay was awful, the work was hard and every day was monotonous and boring. In addition to that I had to continually walk way from the small groups of employees when they started sharing dirty stories.
Yet, I remember that season as a breakout one for me. I learned how to be free and full of joy in a vile and miserable atmosphere. I sang worship songs under my breath and prayed nearly non-stop. I learned how to deeply enjoy Jesus and to be jubilant in the face of misery! It was easy to talk to people about Jesus as I was burning hotter and hotter for him every day. It was easy to walk away from inappropriate discussions and to stick out as a zealot—because I was one!
One day, in that season of continual prayer and worship a particularly large and threatening man who worked there approached me. He said, “If you ever mention the name of Jesus to me again, I will kill you!” I simply smiled and said, “I can’t stop. He’s everything to me.”
The favorite part of my day was when I got off of work. Sure, it was nice to be finished washing cars, but that’s not what motivated me. The pastor of the church I attended had given me a key to the building so I went there every evening, all alone, and prayed. I turned on the worship music in the sanctuary, dimmed the lights and paced around and fell deeper and deeper in love with Jesus.
In that type of intentional prayer driven lifestyle it’s quite easy to say no to sin. Life starts “working together for good” as the famous verse in Romans proclaims. It’s interesting to note just what triggers a life where everything works together for good:
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:26-28 (ESV)
When we pray in the Spirit with deep groans of intercession our love of God explodes and our life becomes ordered and full of power.
3. TURN IT OFF
Media is killing the church. I’m saddened and sickened when Christians make excuses to watch immoral and unholy activity on the screen, whether its the movies or the television.
How can we allow ourselves to be entertained by sins in media that required the slaughter and murder of the one we say we love? Foul language, nudity, sexual situations, violence and coarse joking required Jesus to be brutalized and killed—and Christians are gaining enjoyment from it.
If you want to be free from sin, you have to turn it off. Shut it down. Stop watching what is abominable.
Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace. 2 Corinthians 1:12 (NIV)
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)
4. TURN IT ON
Try an experiment. Eliminate all music, even most Christian music, for a month. For that month listen to nothing but anointed worship music. Have it play night and day in your home, your car, your headphones. Discover a life of passionate worship that never ends!
I love this verse:
And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” Matthew 28:9-10 (ESV)
Is this not the cry of our hearts? What would it be like for Jesus to appear to us and say, “Greetings!”
What would it be like in that moment when Jesus shows up in our life in a life changing way? We would fall at his feet as though dead and worship!
Check out this long passage. Read it all. This is the God who we have the free and glorious privilege to worship!
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Revelation 1:10-18 (ESV)
Do you want to be free from sin? Be in the Spirit on the Lord’s day! Be ready for an encounter! Worship him with abandon!
5. BELIEVE THE WORD
The Bible becomes amazing when we believe it!
And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. Ezekiel 3:1-3 (ESV)
Often people are encouraged to read the Bible through in a year. That’s good, but I prefer to read, lets say, a verse for a month. Pray for the lightning hot power of truth to strike me through just one verse that it captivates me for hours, days and a lifetime!
When our life source and enjoyment truly comes from the very Word of God instead of through media and entertainment, the power of sinful desire is diluted. Diffused. Defeated.
…and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, Ephesians 6:17 (ESV)
The Word of God is a weapon. God’s very Word, when received, believed and acted on, becomes a sharp sword against the enemy. Sin has no chance!
6. GATHER TOGETHER
Be deeply connected at a life giving, Spirit filled church on fire. Be teachable and accountable and let your iron sharpen others as well.
When we live in a community of holy, burning ones the resulting unity is a force against evil that is something to behold.
Worshiping the lover of our souls with others is something we should never live without!
Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD. Psalm 27:3-6 (ESV)
As the years come and go, I wonder if I’ll ever see the church my spirit is yearning for.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24
…“Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?…” Mark 11:17
Greeting. Worship. Announcements. Teaching. Dismissal. Repeat 7 days later.
Sound familiar? Yeah, too familiar.
For at least 8 years specifically, and 23 years generally I’ve been teaching, writing articles, writing books, recording podcasts and posting videos about this very subject—extreme reformation in the church. Yet, the church service in nearly every Christian church looks the same (or worse) than it did decades ago.
I’m just about done. Finished. I can’t stand the thought of additional years of church experiences modeled after a wine skin that’s been outdated for years—yet, I acknowledge that it’s all I may have to choose from while I’m still on the earth. Reformation seems to be far off.
The goal is not to hope for a more anointed old wine skin, but rather for such a radical reformation that it looks nothing like what we see today.
Simply, what’s coming will look more like an extreme prayer meeting with people laid out all over the place with fire and tears in their eyes than the casual, tired & predictable worship and teaching services we see today.
Yes, the Sunday service will finally be the Upper Room experience that the burning, desperate remnant has been yearning for. Raging prayer, fervent prayer, passionate prayer will return to first place in the church.
The Trap of Worship | Where's the Prayer?
Did you notice that the very biblical identity of the church was not even listed in the church service model I shared above? Greeting, worship, announcements, teaching…but no prayer. Sure, people say prayers, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I mean a culture of never ending night and day prayer where every single person is invested with wild passion in ministry to God.
This is the one issue in today’s church that is absolutely maddening to me. I have made this point countless times over the years, yet the prophetic call to action is rejected soundly.
How can we even presume to be a legitimate Christian church if prayer isn’t primary? According to scripture, the church is a house of what? Worship? No. Teaching? No. Fellowship? No. The church is a house of prayer—except in America. Except in the Western world.
Regarding worship I’ll qualify this one time as I dive deeper into this point—I am zealous about worship and affirm it is critical and biblical, without question. I have worship music playing hour after hour as I go through my day. Misty Edwards is leading worship on the screen as I write this, and I love it!
That being said, I am troubled at the attention musical worship receives in the church today. It has become an idol for many and is all too often devoid of a spirit of prayer.
I’ve said before that worship music in its current state can be used as a lazy man’s intercession. It’s entertaining. It feels good. It feels spiritual. Yet, it by no means defaults in spiritual maturity or true worship.
And the incense that you shall make according to its composition, you shall not make for yourselves. It shall be for you holy to the LORD. Whoever makes any like it to use as perfume shall be cut off from his people.” Exodus 30:37-38
That Scripture is for today. Today’s pop worship culture better take notice. The incense, the worship, is holy. It’s for God. It’s not to enhance our personal experience! It’s not perfume for us, it’s incense for God!
I’ve become increasingly grieved at how popular worship events can draw thousands while prayer meetings draw few. The call to prayer is rejected.
Even more disturbing is how easy it is for people to blend in, raise their hands, dance at the altar and enjoy even truly anointed musical worship—while not legitimately worshiping at all and not being grieved over their immaturity, sin and lack of radical commitment to the cross of Christ. They celebrate some presumed freedom while not being locked in as prayer-driven people, broken and fervent warriors. No sacrifice. No surrender. Just a pursuit of a personal supernatural experience. I’m becoming more convinced than ever that many of these supernatural experiences are certainly supernatural, but not holy.
I’ve witnessed people who are involved deeply in the New Age, engaging in homosexual activity, gossip, watching impure movies or television and a variety of other issues that, at times, would even disqualify them as true Christians, worshiping and dancing with abandon. However, I’ve never seen people who are given to these compromises stay engaged in an Upper Room style, Holy Spirit driven prayer meeting. A culture of burning prayer draws the remnant. A culture of prayer repels the casual. Prayer is that powerful.
This is why I have counseled leaders and others—if you want to know who’s on fire, surrendered and truly following Jesus, throw a prayer meeting. In fact, I’ve actually modified that advice. Now I instruct them to develop a prayer culture. Remove any activity that would allow them to hide or blend in—and call them to the furnace of intercession. I have dramatic stories of how this strategy has rocked our own ministry. Here’s a few.
Demons Can Hide
An amazing young man was on our worship team in a previous church. He was skilled and committed. I was growing concerned about our worship team at that church due to a slight independent spirit that was manifesting. It wasn’t major, but it was growing and I had to deal with it. So, I started mandating that the worship team join us for an hour of prayer prior to the service. I knew that a call to fiery, Spirit-driven prayer would bring issues to the surface.
The young man was immediately resistant. He would suddenly show up late and then attempt to hide in a corner. I noticed this immediately, and decided to gather everybody together to pray so nobody could shrink back from the fire. He stood there as stiff as a board with a blank look on his face. His agitation was increasing as the prayer grew in fervor.
Isn’t it interesting how demons may be able to hide in the midst of worship, and even on a worship team, but can’t stand people praying in tongues in a prayer meeting!
The type of deliverance that comes from musical worship only comes from a lifestyle of ministry to God—of prayer.
Prayerless Worship Teams
We were between worship teams once, so we decided to invite guest worship teams to lead in the interim. What I witnessed saddened me deeply.
We required these visiting worship teams to join us for pre-service prayer, and most of them looked lost, confused and eager to get out. Some would actually leave and hang out in the foyer. Just one, from a House of Prayer in the area, was on their face crying out in prayer with us.
I couldn’t imagine how those teams, who were mostly quite skilled, could even begin to lead a church in worship without a spirit of prayer on them. Prayer was actually foreign to them! Even worse, for many, prayer was troubling to them!
After several weeks of the nightmare, God spoke to me clearly: “Don’t seek out another worship team until I say.”
He wanted us to worship—from a place of Spirit-filled prayer. Worship doesn’t require music. It requires a surrendered heart of continual, burning prayer.
The question was clear: would people still gather together if the musical entertainment was removed in favor of prayer? Most did not, and we were left with the remnant God was after. No longer could people shrink back and hide in the music. Now everybody was unified together in passionate prayer.
That was one of the best decisions I ever made as a leader. We had people who may have been using incense as their personal perfume, and when it was removed, they left too. You see, worship requires sacrifice, and today’s worship culture doesn’t highlight that.
Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:3
God instructed us to discover true worship without the assistance of a live worship team over a year ago, and to this date we don’t have one—and I’m not looking for one. Now, prayer drives our services, and while we do use video worship from the International House of Prayer, it will always be supplemental. We could proceed with it or without it. So, thus far God hasn’t revealed that it’s necessary for us to have someone leading live musical worship. Simply, we can worship now from a place of intercession, and that is what we are doing. In fact, I can see churches of many thousand people praying throughout their service with video worship playing over them and not even have an in house worship team! I personally think it would be a powerful move.
And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song.., Revelation 5:8-9
What’s become to be known as Harp and Bowl Worship is truly a powerful way to intermix prayer and music. However, very interestingly we see in the above passage that it’s the creatures and elders who are singing—and it’s the saints who are praying!
It’s the intercession of the saints that results in new songs! This is why the primary focus must be on prayer, not music. Prayer + worship (surrender, adoration) can result in new songs. But don’t confuse musical worship with biblical worship. They are separate though sometimes overlapping realities.
“And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Isaiah 56:6-7
The above passage is the perfect example of a biblical church service—in prayer with offerings and sacrifices. Music not required.
Of course, as I’ve tried to make evident, music is biblical and an important supporting element in the right context, but first we must recalibrate the church. Music has been a crutch for too long and has resulted in a lot of lazy Christians.
The singers will sing with a powerful anointing when the church is in right governmental order.
For the people of Israel and the sons of Levi shall bring the contribution of grain, wine, and oil to the chambers, where the vessels of the sanctuary are, as well as the priests who minister, and the gatekeepers and the singers. We will not neglect the house of our God.” Nehemiah 10:39
Prayer Fueled Worship
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! Psalm 95:6
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness. Psalm 29:2
If you need musical worship to feel close to God, it's an indicator that your prayer life is lacking.
Again, it’s troubling to me that people can enter into worship while, at the same time, resisting a culture of prayer. That should be a litmus test for us. If they can’t pray with endurance and fervency, just who are they worshiping when the music starts?
Worship isn’t about us feeling good. It’s about God being glorified! We lay everything down and bring offerings and sacrifices and worship! No music required!
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; 1 Chronicles 16:29
Our team at Revival Church has prayed in fiery tongues in over 70 Detroit region churches, and our ministry in Manitou Springs was in over 100 Colorado Springs churches. The two hour prayer meeting was intense as we prayed in the Spirit together, non-stop.
Often the pastor would ask if I wanted their worship team to play, or if I wanted a worship CD to play in the background. Most of the time I’d say no. I didn’t want us leaning on the familiar. It was time to go into the uncharted territory of passionate, continual prayer. I knew that when we found a company of people that could enter in and pray on fire in any environment, that reformation in the church would draw nearer.
You see, when we pray in tongues, when we pray in the Spirit, then we can see worship in the Spirit come. Instead of English lyrics, I see waves of spiritual tongues rising up as incense becoming dominant. This is the spirit and truth worship of the hour.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24
At Revival Church I’m on the hunt for what I call Pavement People. These are the 2 Chronicles 7 people who couldn’t even enter the building due to the glory of God filling it—so they hit the pavement and worshipped. No comfortable chairs, no music, nothing but them, the pavement and God.
As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:1-3
And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Nehemiah 8:6
But today, if there’s isn’t a powerful musical worship experience in the building, you’ll find not only an empty building, but an empty parking lot.
The coming musical worship movement will come from a place of extreme prayer. Maybe it would make sense to sit the musicians down and call everybody to hit the pavement and pray in tongues for two hours every Sunday—and then again on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We will come to the House of Prayer in the fear of the Lord to revere him.
But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. Psalm 5:7
Maybe after a year or two of Upper Room style prayer, with no musical assistance whatsoever, we’d see a new wine, culture shifting musical worship movement emerge.
Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17
We will be so undone and overwhelmed by the ‘groans that can’t be uttered’ from a life of intercession that the musical worship that emerges will be nothing like we have today.
Everybody will be on their face groaning and crying out, repenting and worshiping with deep groans of intercession as the instruments play over them. From that place new songs will explode out of us!
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Psalm 84:2
Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah Psalm 84:4
A Reformed Church Service
So, just what does a reformed church service look like?
It looks like a prayer meeting—because it is a prayer meeting. When people arrive on a Sunday morning, they will see people plastered all over the floor groaning and interceding. In prayer. The kids will be on the floor with them as biological families come together with their spiritual family for hours of passionate prayer. That’s the new, reformed church model! Apostolic leaders will break in briefly with instruction and prophetic decrees that take everybody back into focused intercession.
The church will finally become the House of Prayer that it was born to be.
Maybe there will be music, maybe there won’t be—but, without question, there will be prayer. Raging, continual prayer. And, that culture of Holy Spirit baptized intercession will result in clarity as to who’s with you and who is not.
Sin won’t be able to survive in the camp. Resistance will become immediately evident. Gossip will cease. Pride will die. Personal comfort zones will be threatened. God will be exalted.
From that place of prayer, other secondary events will take place such a teaching services, but they will remain supplemental. Prayer will be primary because, it’s clear, the church is a house of prayer for all nations.
We will be in the church, physically with other Believers, most every day of the week in intercession and new wine ministry!
And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God. Luke 24:52-53
So, here’s the model:
Greeting. Fervent prayer. Groans of intercession. Apostolic instruction. Zealous decrees. More groans. Declaration of Scripture. Fear. Trembling. New songs. Brokenness. Repentance. Prayer. Joy. Dancing. Freedom. Repeat again tomorrow.
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! Psalm 96:9
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 7:9-12
Prayer. That is the call of the church. It's time for a prayer reformation. A prayer revolution.