I am seeing a disconcerting trend in ‘worship’ songs lately. In fact I’m struggling not to let this become a ‘rant’! So let me just say, I’m not here to ‘blast’ any particular song writers, though I may make mention of particular songs. My concern is with a growing number of songs that put the worshiper in a stance of attempting to invoke the Holy Sprit.
I know invoke sounds a little harsh—all sorts of folks out there are into ‘invoking’ spirits and wondering if there’s anything different about what they see as the ‘Christian’ version. I had my education on that via an online discussion thread titled: ‘How is invoking the holy spirit substantially different from invoking Pagan deities?’ Disturbing conclusion: no difference. And I was surprised to find there’s even a 5-step E-how on ‘Praying to Invoke the Holy Spirit’. Not exactly an authoritative source–the contributor of this article also offers instruction on ‘How to Throw a Halloween Party for Teenagers’ and ‘How to Dance Really Well in a Club’. But even he recognizes there’s more to it than praise and worship… But I digress. I’ll get back to that later, maybe….
Let me explain my objection. Picture this…the music is playing, smooth and mesmerizing. And we begin the refrain: —“Holy Spirit come…” or “Come, Lord Jesus, come” with its requisite repeats. A certain mystical mood has been created and we are all expecting something… but what?! Are we prepared for our wish were granted? We sing, “Holy Spirit rain down…” Is He not already here? Are we not gathered in Jesus’ name? Does the Holy Spirit not indwell each and every follower of Christ?
Of course I’ve heard it explained (as if the worship leader were reading my mind) that yes, God is present with us but we are asking for Him to show us He’s here, to touch us in some way. We want more of Him. My mind darts off to Jesus’ rebuke of those who demanded signs and wonders in order to believe God was in fact among them. And do we really need something more if we have been blessed already with ‘every spiritual blessing in Christ’ (Eph.1:3)? What is it we’re really after and why does God not seem to be showing up?! After all, here we are singing our hearts out. We’ve made the effort to come. Now it’s His turn.
A recent chorus goes so far as to beg God to open the sky and fall down on us like rain, and not only that but like fire! In fact we aren’t going to be content with anything at all ordinary! What on earth? I think the sense of the songwriter is that we’re desperate for a ‘move of God’, sick of the status quo, sick of life as we know it, and in this case even fed up with God’s blessings. Now we just want the real commodity—God Himself. Wow. What do you do with a song like that? And what about this habitual beckoning to God to come do something spectacular. Does it honor Him, or is it pure self-centered worship?
The way I see it, we’ve got things backwards… But I’ll save that thought for next time. I’d really like to know how you see it? What are we after when we worship? and what needs to be corrected? Or perhaps where you are things are different. I’d love to hear what you’re learning about worship. Please tuck in a comment or send off a little e-mail. I’ll leave you with the concluding remarks of an excellent article I hope to say more about next time:
Emphasizing the experience of the worshiper as the evidence of the Spirit depreciates his more significant functions, often leading to misunderstanding, pragmatism, narcissism and an idolatry of self rather than the worship of God.