Worship Music As Orientation

I had a wonderful encounter the other morning with God. It is not unnatural for the human mind to get lost in its worries and cares, its intellectual struggles and its relational burdens.

But I have found this. I may analyze, categorize and de-romanticize the nuts and bolts of worship, Christian worship, contemporary worship, emerging worship and the act of leading or participating in its activity. I may become so routinized in my functions, roles and personal patterns that I lose sight of my context as a child of God, in a bright, beautiful and broken world. I may delve into the wider arts, culture, religion, philosophy and worldview. And yet…

When I lift my voice in a simple, or artful, lyric and melody that affirms who God is, His goodness, His trustworthiness, His praise-worthiness, my heart is moved over time. It seems that God responds to expressed words of acclamation and appreciation, affection and trust.

My disorientation gives way to orientation; my feeble attempts to course-correct my own interior life find hope and reason trickling toward them, infusing them with life from without.

Someone once asked me why I led the act of musical worship, in the ways and with the consistency that I do.

I said, “I have to. It keeps me alive. I also have to because it orients others, and keeps them alive in the wear and tear of life.”

Enjoy art, bear the responsibilities of life, see worship as a whole life, sacramental response to the goodness of God, do justice, love mercy, care for the poor, embrace the sacraments, incarnate the teaching of Jesus, celebrate and aid your neighbor, but please…

Do not withhold worship, as expressed through songs of direct prayer, thanks and communication to God.

It will orient you, and heal you, over time.

Let your praise be heard, with words, in addition to actions and thoughts. The emerging Church systems and philosophies we are building must keep music integral to our forethought. There is something about singing that is vital to all who walk the human concourse.


Sheltering Mercy and Endless Grace help us rediscover the rich treasures of the Psalms—through free-verse prayer renderings of their poems and hymns—as a guide to personal devotion and meditation. Sheltering Mercy helps the reader pray Psalms 1-75; Endless Grace leads in prayer through Psalms 76-150.

The church has always used the Psalms as part of its prayer life, and they have inspired countless other prayers. Each book contains 75 prayers drawn from the Book of Psalms, providing lyrical sketches of what authors Ryan Smith and Dan Wilt have seen, heard, and felt while sojourning there. Each prayer is a response to the Psalms written in harmony with Scripture. These prayers help us quiet our hearts before God and welcome us into a safe place amid the storms of life.

These artful, poetic, and classic devotional books are a perfect gift, and feature compelling stunning illustrations and hardcover binding, offering a fresh way to reflect on and pray the Psalms. Co-written with Ryan Whitaker Smith, Brazos Publishing.

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