Jesus chose twelve men to carry on His work when He was gone. Eleven of them did exactly that, taking His message to the world. All but one suffered martyrdom for the cause. The gospel of Mark says, "He appointed twelve--designating them apostles--that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and have the authority to drive out demons" (Mark 3:14 NIV). We marvel at their exploits and at their transformations from timid fishermen and men of unsteady motivation into single-minded missionaries and astounding communicators. We know the Holy Spirit is the one who fostered this amazing metamorphosis. What were the processes involved? Have we expected to have power and authority in the spirit-realm without taking time to "be with Him?" How can we open ourselves to the transforming influence of the Holy Spirit as He seeks to conform us to the image of Christ? How different would church life be if more Christians were more Christ-like?
These are central questions to the understanding of worship renewal. Struggles in public worship take place on the church platform, but they are not rooted there. Power struggles in the boardroom do not begin there. Dysfunction in the church family is rooted in the hearts of our people, both leaders and parishioners.
A powerful routine of public worship must be based on effective and sincere practices of private worship. In the Secret Place of prayer the Refiner's Fire and Launderers' Soap do their purifying, cleansing work, so that we might offer acceptable worship to the Lord (Malachi 3). Worship in the Public Place is empowered by worship in the Secret Place. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said it would be so. "Your Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (Matt. 5:6 NIV). When the Secret Place is empty and unattended, the hearts of worshipers on Sunday in the Public Place are likewise barren and neglected. Much of our time together in such a situation is spent trying to "ascend the hill of the Lord" rather than "standing in the Holy Place" (Ps. 24). Thus we spend more time in praise than in worship, more time getting there than being there.
The submarine gives us an example from the material world that illustrates the underlying support that private worship is to public worship. The reason this ship can dive and travel the seas at great depths is a double hull construction. The outer hull gives the vessel stability and a smooth surface on which to glide through the water. The inner hull resists the tremendous pressure of the water surrounding the ship far beneath the surface of the sea and protects the occupants of the craft from those pressures. The space between the two hulls can be flooded with seawater and emptied again as needed to dive or surface at the will of the captain. Private worship is to the church like the inner hull of the submarine, unseen from the outside but super strong on the inside, the real strength of the great weapon beneath the sea.
Worship leaders (pastors and musicians) need to help the people they lead form effective structures and disciplines of private worship. The components of powerful private worship are the same as those of public worship: Scriptures read and confessed; songs; prayers of praise, worship, and petition; and times of waiting on God, listening for the voice of the Spirit. We need the Secret Place. Like the apostles, He has called us to be with Him.
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