When you pray …

Do you pray? No, really. Do you pray? I’m not thinking of the simple ‘Now I lay me down to sleep’ or ‘Bless us oh Father and these our gifts’, although that’s a start. I’m talking about praying to the almighty and holy God who is omnipresent (everywhere at all times), omnipotent (all power to do all things), and omniscient (all knowing of all things at all times). I mean praying to that God. Do you ever wake up praying? Many of us have made a habit of praying as …

Read more

Desperate for … what?

Have you ever glanced at something, and in a flash had a creeping feeling of dread? How can a split second of visual make such a powerful connection with your brain that, in a snap, moods are altered? This morning, I bounced down the stairs to my office – not in a falling down the stairs bounce, but in true Tigger fashion, a joyful bounce. As I turned on the light my eyes were drawn to an open magazine article with a huge elegantly printed title “Desperate for more” – …

Read more

Different Ways to Worship

Guest post by Traci Rhoades

A few years back I went with a friend to hear author and speaker, Lisa Bevere, speak at a nearby church, one more charismatic than mine. Before the guest speaker came out we sang some praise and worship songs, the kind that repeats the chorus a time or two or twelve. As the intro music played the worship leader said we could move into the aisles to give ourselves freedom in worship. And people did. They jumped, raised their hands and swayed. It was highly energetic. I thought to myself, this isn’t my style of worship anymore. Concert style.

What I did not think was this worship style is wrong. I knew that was progress. I’d learned we don’t have to be comfortable for it to be worship. We can worship in a myriad of ways.

On the other side of the spectrum, one Sunday I worshiped with the Quakers in an unprogrammed service. Here is an explanation of this worship style taken from the Friends General Conference (FGC) website:

While all Quakers meet in worship to hear more clearly God’s “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12), Friends in the unprogrammed Quaker tradition base our worship entirely on expectant waiting. We take the Psalmist’s advice literally: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

We meet in plain, unadorned rooms because we have found that, in such places, we are less distracted from hearing that still small voice. There are no pulpits in our meeting rooms because we minister to each other. Our benches or chairs face each other because we are all equal before God. We have no prearranged prayers, readings, sermons, hymns, or musical orchestrations because we wait for God’s leadings (guidance and direction) and power in our lives.

During worship, a message may come to us. Friends have found that messages may be for our personal reflection or for sharing on another occasion. Or they may be a leading to stand and speak. Friends value spoken messages that come from the heart and are prompted by the Spirit, and we also value the silence we share together. Following a spoken message, we return to the silence to examine ourselves in the Light of that message. Meeting for worship ends when one Friend, designated in advance, shakes hands with his or her neighbors. Then everyone shakes hands. No two meetings are ever the same.

So on a Sunday morning this past December, with my young daughter and two women who joined us seated beside us, we sat in a circle of friends. Promptly at 10:30 the group leader sat in his chair, folded his hands, closed his eyes, and we sat in silence for an hour. If the Spirit moved someone to speak, they could. That’s how it works. But no one felt the Spirit telling them to speak, so we mainly sat with our eyes closed. No songs were sung. Afterward we shared our first names, fellowshipped for about 20 minutes, and church was over.

I’ve only tried it once but I’m pretty sure this is not my style of worship either. Quaker style.

It’s not wrong though. We don’t have to be comfortable for it to be worship. We can worship in a myriad of ways, pointing to our Creator, who gave us such amazing variety.

Order Traci’s new book here Not All Who Wander (Spiritually) Are Lost, or here.

Visit her website at tracesoffaith.com. Find her on Twitter at @tracesoffaith.

Read more

Hidden Art Lasts A Lifetime

When I was in 8th grade my dad caved in to my mom’s insistence that we have a piano. Not a castoff or old upright, but brand new Kimball console. You might not think that’s strange, but as I watched the men from our church unload the monstrosity from the truck, I was as mystified as any 13 year old girl could be. As soon as it was settled in the living room I had to ask. “Who’s going to play it?” You have to understand that we lived in …

Read more

A new kind of Notice

Do you ever feel invisible? Think about it. Here’s what I mean by that. It isn’t that you want to be on display, receive applause, or even be the center of attention, but maybe simply to be noticed. We all go through times when we want someone, we care about, to notice us. Maybe we don’t even recognize it as a need, but we are created for relationship – and being noticed is the first step. At least it seems like a first step to relationship is becoming visible by …

Read more

Refining Grace