Brian Doerksen writes on Intimacy in Worship.
For most of my life, I remember singing songs in church about God, or singing songs that were exhortations to live better. But what I was hungry for, even as a boy, was to communicate directly with my maker. I wanted to sing to God. I wanted to reveal my heart to Cod and I wanted Him to reveal His heart to me. In the summer of ’85 I encountered the Vineyard at a Wimber conference where the worship leader began to sing songs that helped me express my heart to God. It was so simple.
Intimacy in worship is one of the foundations of the Vineyard movement. When John & Carol Wimber and others began meeting in a home in 1977 in California, they gathered because they were hungry to meet with God.
The other thing that has marked Vineyard worship is our expectancy of God’s presence
And so for years, Vineyard worship around the world has been marked by songs that are simple expressions of love and devotion, The other thing that has marked Vineyard worship is our expectancy of God’s presence, His heart revealed after we have revealed our heart to Him. This is real intimacy, a living relationship with God. What an incredible joy when we discover that He is longing for these intimate times as well.
Some people have asked me, “Do all intimate songs need to be slow and gentle in their musical style?” My answer is, (with a chuckle) NO! Some of the music we use is chosen because it seems to encourage intimate dialogue and the opening of our hearts to God.
Intimacy in the ‘narrow’ sense means we sing to God, in the broad sense, intimacy means we live our whole lives in the presence of God. If we give ourselves away to other loves, to other gods, we will lose intimacy with God, or we will try and manufacture it in a way that is shallow and purely physical. This is an empty encounter for both God and us. We cannot spend our entire week in pursuit of the world, and then wonder why our worship on Sunday feels flat. Real intimacy cannot be created by simply singing the right songs.
Intimate worship will always be our highest calling
Intimate worship really happens when the songs come as an overflow of a heart full of love. Real intimacy is like marriage, and it only works as we forsake all others. Intimacy is reverent, not flippantly casual as some might say. I believe that the more intimate, the more reverent it actually becomes. A husband and wife approach physical lovemaking on their wedding night with great reverence. Intimacy in marriage is so powerful because it is so reverent. Without reverence, intimacy in marriage will most certainly die. Without reverence, we will not experience real intimacy in worship.
The Bible is full of accounts of intimate worship. As David looked after the sheep he sang intimate worship songs to the Lord. He continued to do the same when he became the king of Israel. The woman in Luke 7 worshipped intimately as she poured the perfume out on the feet of Jesus. When we embrace intimacy, real intimacy in worship, we are fulfilling our destiny to be in a surrendered relationship with God. And so we sing to the Lord as Psalm 96. 1 says “Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.”
Intimate worship will always be our highest calling and aim in this life, and then, when we pass on to the other side, it’s only going to get better.