Would you expect a person with a severe hearing loss to lead others in a musical setting? It would be challenging but not impossible. How about a hearing impaired man, with no musical or singing talent, lead others in prayer? How about doing this while people are singing and playing instruments? Here is what I’m talking about.
A funny thing happened on Thursday, February 23. I regularly take part in a House of Prayer started by Shore Vineyard Church. We call it, S-HOP or Shore House Of Prayer. What is Shore House of Prayer? It is a physical place where one can come and pray or receive prayer. Unlike a traditional church service, this is a place to go, at any time or day.
21-23“Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God‘s way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.
23-24“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”
It is not about where we pray and worship God, the Father. It is where our hearts are when praising God or offering up prayers. If you already know Jesus then I ask you this, “Do you not know that your body is a temple and you’re indwelt by the Holy Spirit?” Here is how Paul puts it to the Corinthians in 1 Cor 3:16:
16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
Yet, I say wholeheartedly, “It is a beautiful thing when brothers and sisters come together to pray and worship our Heavenly Father.” It is not about a building, a house or a special place. It’s what we do inside that matters.
The key is, “Where is our heart? Is it open to God, the Father? Are we willing to follow His Spirit and go where He is leading? Are we listening to Jesus and following Him?” It’s not the size of a church that matters; rather it is having a heart that is open to God.
How does this relate to Shore House of Prayer? When the Shore Vineyard community chose to dedicate a space in our church building for praying around the clock, I thought it was a fine idea. As someone who enjoys prayer, I liked the idea of praying 24 hours a day and 7 days, a week.
When I heard worship music would be incorporated into each time slot, I was up for the challenge. There is a couple of things worth noting. By worship music, I do not mean a music CD. We were going to have live singers and musicians participating with the people doing the praying. I am alluding to Mike Bickle‘s International House of Prayer – Kansas City and their “Harp and Bowl” prayer model. Go here to see an explanation of “Harp & Bowl”
As you may guess, I am not a musician or a singer. This was going to be a challenge, as I’ve never done this before. Because of my hearing impairment, the main challenge would be in the timing. It is not always easy to hear the lull between songs or other subtle clues saying, “Now, it’s the time to interject either a Scripture or a prayer.”
Before February 23, I would participate in 1 of 3 ways or a combination thereof. I would either pray silently, take part in what’s happening or sit quietly and enjoy my Father’s presence. Though I was willing to be a prayer leader, I was not asked to do so.
It seems leadership and I were on the same wavelength. In a regular prayer meeting, the problem is usually a soft quiet voice. It was difficult to pick up when someone was praying. How is Barry going to lead prayer when he is going to have a harder time hearing due to the music.
How did we overcome this? It helped to talk with each other about our mutual concerns. It also helps to listen and respect each other. Finally, it helps to focus on the solutions and not the problems.
On Thursday February 23, I had gone for what I thought would be two regular sessions of prayer. Towards the end of the first session, Richard and Darlene had to leave. They went to help someone who was in need. They asked Paula to take over leading prayer for the remainder of the first session. In turn Paula asked me, to help.
It was a challenging experience for both of us. I will say that Paula did a great job. She would later help me during the second session. In that session, I stepped up because Richard and Darlene hadn’t returned and we needed to get started. How was I going to do this?
Here are the three steps that I took. First, I needed to trust God’s Spirit to help me in my weakness. In both sessions, I silently asked Jesus for help. Without fail, the Holy Spirit prompted me with the needed Scriptures. He also helped me in knowing when to offer up the Scripture for the singers to sing or work with. At one point, the Holy Spirit prompted me to turn the Scripture into my own prayers.
I am not surprised by this. It has happened for me before. The Holy Spirit had one time given me the right answer in an uncomfortable situation. At the time, I didn’t know it was the Holy Spirit. Imagine my surprise when I read what Jesus told his disciples at one time:
19But when they hand you over,do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. [Matt 10:19]
Trust God to help you in your time of needs. Be open to what the Holy Spirit is saying and go with it.
Here is the second step and it’s tightly linked with the first one. I needed to trust my friends to help me. I needed to be open to Don giving me, some useful tips. Paula was a great help in finding some good Scriptures. I had to trust the singers like Chris, Taffy and others to give the needed subtle clues.
Though Richard and Darlene weren’t there, they also helped by showing me what to do in the many other sessions that they were there. As my session went on, the Holy Spirit was bringing to remembrance certain items that Richard has said earlier. The Spirit was also helping with my timing. I will not claim perfection.
Here is the last step that is no less important. I have to believe in myself. I’m not talking about a prideful belief in self. Rather, I’m talking about having a godly confidence that empowers you to step forward. Consider these Scriptures:
6 For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. [2 Tim 1:6-7]
15For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” [Romans 8:15]
13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. [Philippians 4:13]
11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously [Colossians 1:11]
9And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. [2 Corinthians 12:9]
As my friend Steve would say, “Faith is spelled RISK.” He’s right. Don’t be afraid to step forward and try something. I never led prayer before and didn’t expect it. Faith says, “Step forward and trust God, the Father to help you.” The more you do it, the stronger your faith becomes.