My Journey into Intercessory Worship
“Heights of Delight“, written by Dick Eastman, was recommended to me by a friend the first time I went to Israel. He simply said it would make sense once I got there. He was partially right; it made sense once I got back and had time to digest it. A friend and I went together and we both brought our guitars, but weren’t really sure why. It turned out to be providential because while there we had the privilege of worshiping and eventually leading a watch at the Succat Halel– a 24/7 prayer and worship ministry in Jerusalem.
We had no idea what we had just been introduced to, but we knew it was something special and ordained by God. The model they used for worship, I would later find out, was based on the Harp and Bowl model used by IHOP Kansas City. It was on that trip that God set in motion a hunger and thirst for everything He has to say about worship and prayer, both corporately and individually.
Ever since, I have had a zeal for seeing God move through prayer and worship settings. I’ve seen God speak directly into people’s lives through the worship team and have personally had words spoken into me that I, and my close friends that were there, knew were obviously from God.
Suffice it to say, this isn’t a fad that I’m following. I see time and time again in scripture where men and women of God expressed their thanks, praised, worshiped, and witnessed, through song. It is no coincidence that David, a man after God’s own heart, wrote Psalms: a collection of songs and prayers he, with the help of his priests, wrote to God.
Harp and Bowl
“Harp and Bowl” is the model for worship setup in Revelation 5:8 “…the four living creatures and…elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls of incense which are the prayers of the saints.” (NIV)
The Harp and Bowl model is simply singing your, or the groups, prayers to God; taking what He has put inside of you and lifting back to Him in worship. It is singing a new song to Him.
In his book, Heights of Delight, Dick Eastman outlines 7 worship realities that will help you develop your personal and corporate intercessory worship time. Let’s look at the first 3:
- It ENTHRONES God. It provides a place for God to dwell on earth in all his fullness.
- It ENCOUNTERS God. It provides an opportunity to encounter God in all His fullness, first hand.
- It ENLARGES God. It provides an atmosphere to expand and increase our knowledge and understanding of God in all His fullness.
Intercessory Worship ENTHRONES God
Ps. 22:3 says, “But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel.” Phrased another way, God inhabits the praises of His people. Eastman refers to a Japanese translation of the verse which reads, “When God’s people praise Him, He brings a big chair and sits there.”(p 41)
How awesome is that? Imagine God sitting there listening to us as we worship Him, like a proud father enjoying the company of his kids and grandkids. This may sound “out there” and that’s o.k. but there have been times during my personal worship that it felt as if Jesus was there dancing as I played. I could feel God smiling as I worshiped Him in song. Every time I even think about it, it brings tears to my eyes.
That, to me, is what it means for God to inhabit our praises and to be enthroned in our worship: He is lifted up and exalted above everything else. We put Him on the pedestal He belongs.
Intercessory Worship ENCOUNTERS God
Frances of Assisi is credited with saying, “Go everywhere and preach the gospel to everyone. And if you absolutely must, use words.”
“Frances encountered God often, it is said, during whole days of almost total silence in a cave near Averno, Italy.”(p 74)
Absolute silence might well become, in some instances, our greatest act of worship…Not all worship is expressed in words or actions. Indeed, the closer one comes to a true encounter with God, the less appropriate some words or actions become. Our very silence can have a uniquely profound impact on extending God’s kingdom throughout the nations. (p 59)
“Be silent, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world” (Ps. 46:10, NLT)
This sounds like the opposite of Enthroning God but it isn’t; it is simply a different facet of worship. There are times when a song or outward prayer is appropriate but, at times, it is best to just be silent and let God be God.
We are all in favor of worshiping and praying for God to move in our lives and communities. But when was the last time, after praying, we listened for the answer? When was the last time you just stopped and listened to what He was saying to you?
Sometimes we get so busy working for God that we don’t take time to just be with Him. When we just be still and know that He is God we encounter Him in all His fullness, and that is a life changing moment.
During your next personal or corporate prayer time, take a few moments and just be still. It might be just the dimension of prayer that you’ve been longing for.
Intercessory Worship ENLARGES God
“There will be no big world vision without a big God.” (John Piper)(p 76)
“The more we worship God, the bigger God becomes in our understanding, resulting in a greater faith to believe he will accomplish His purposes through us. Identified as our third worship reality: Worship Enlarges God!” (p 77)
“You can’t make God big. But you can see Him big.” (A.W. Tozer)(p 77)
In his book, Worship:The Pattern of Things in Heaven, Joseph Garlington writes,
Although Jesus Christ won’t be “better” than he is now, our understanding of Him, our comprehension of His love and sacrifice, our revelation of Him as God incarnate, and especially our capacity to enjoy intimate fellowship with Him will be better, fuller, richer, bigger, and deeper than what we have now. (p 79)
In order to see God “bigger” we must not just have head knowledge of Him, we must also have a deep heart knowledge of His son, Jesus Christ. Our relationship with Jesus will directly affect our view of God and whether we see Him as big or not.
As we worship God our “head knowledge” works it way into our hearts and the Holy Spirit begins to enlarge our vision of God and His power.
“The bigger we see God, the bigger we pray. And the bigger we pray, the greater our answers. To totally transform nations will take some pretty big prayers…Worship God fervently. Worship Him passionately. Worship Him aggressively and extravagantly. You will soon see God big– and pray big prayers.”(p 88)
“The bigger we see God through our worship, the smaller Satan becomes in his capacity to defeat us.”(p 86)
There have been leaders, prophets, kings, and apostles who have led extraordinary lives, doing great things for the cause of Christ. But none of them could have been used by God if they hadn’t had a very big view of Him and His ability.
Declare in song and prayer God’s greatness and His power. Worship Him in song; singing His word. Declare His strength, His might. As you do, your view will begin to change.
(All page references were from Heights of Delight by Dick Eastman)