When I first started going to church, the weirdest and scariest thing was when people would start singing in other languages and started singing their own songs. Whenever the worship leader would say something like “Just worship on your own for a minute, sing what songs are in your hearts” I would freeze, I got super uncomfortable. I would physically feel awkward, I would look around and everyone seemed to enjoy this, it was almost as if it was natural. At first I thought it was just a weird thing that Christians did but when I became a Christian and started my studies in music and worship ministry, I found that, God meant it to be normal, and not mystical. Spiritual songs would be like “Closer” by Steffany Gretzinger, and then with the spontaneous worship.
The Bible has a lot to say about spiritual songs, in fact, Miriam and Moses were the first worship leaders in the Bible, Miriam sang a spiritual song from her heart as the people were coming out of Egypt into the Exodus.
Speaking to One another with Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, sing and make music from your heart to the Lord. -Ephesians 5:19
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly, as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. -Colossians 3:16
So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. -1 Corinthians 14:15
Every time I looked up spiritual songs in the Bible it was almost as if God placed His message on our hearts and the songs we sang showed our hearts to Him. Its like we are supposed to sing spiritual songs, like we aren’t supposed to be unafraid to sing our hearts to God. So many times I have caught myself not wanting to do my little dancing and my arm movements because I didn’t want people to think I am weird or make fun of me. After those experiences, I always feel ashamed, I am allowing my perception of what people are thinking of me, to hold back my praise and worship from God. I am allowing my spirit to draw back, out of fear, and not sing truly from my heart to my God. If you have listened to any of Bethel Music worship, you surely have heard much spontaneous worship, which is also Spiritual songs. Some of my favorites are:
How beautiful, how glorious, how outrageous is His love -Jonathan Helser
From the tip of my toes, to the top of my head, they’re gonna know I love you- Steffany Gretzinger
Let us be just like a child, looking at the beauty of the king, may we never lose our wonder.-Amanda Cook
All of these people understand that the songs in their hearts are not for themselves but to edify the church and glorify and praise God. Its like if you were a children’s minister and God placed a message on your heart to teach the kids but instead teaching them something that may seem more ‘light hearted’. Its like if you’re on the street and God leads your spirit to encourage or help someone you don’t know out and you ignore it. Its like if you were a preacher and instead of teaching what God has placed on your heart you teach something that seems easier. We cannot allow satan to get a foothold in our worship. Now, I may be slightly biased because I am a music and worship major, but I believe that the songs on our hearts are important. They describe our feelings for Christ, our relationship with Him, and our deepest longings.
If you’re like me, and you love to move around, and dance, or move your arms around and sing the words that come to your heart, don’t be afraid! God wants to hear what you sing, He wants to hear it even if you don’t have a great voice, even if you’re not sure what you’re singing, let it out. God knows what is on your heart but He loves to hear it, He adores you so much, and it brings Him the deepest joy when His children share with Him the words in their hearts. Sometimes, I get so in my head when I am leading worship, I forget why I am and I allow the words on my heart to be choked out by my fears of what the congregation will think. Now don’t get me wrong, we aren’t to be a distraction to others or the congregation (if you’re in a leadership position) but we are supposed to worship with our whole hearts.
Their is a certain stigma, I think that has been placed on people who worship like this, and I think it is because no one has met someone who truly loves God. When you truly love God, the song in your heart and the way you move are not for show, they are for God. You should not be ashamed to do what He is leading you to do because, honestly, would you really want to stand still if the angels around you were dancing and singing and praising God? Are you going to be afraid of what they may think? God made us all, and we are all different, but we can’t allow the shallow way people think detract us from meaningful worship.
I pray that this week you will engage with spiritual songs, and allow God to lead you in spontaneous worship and singing the words on your heart.