Planning the musical worship for our services each week is something that I enjoy.  As I’ve worked on this over the last couple of years, I’ve identified a few principles that guide me through the process.  You’ll find the first one below and there will be more to come.

The process begins with prayer

This is so simple and obvious, that it is almost a cliché.  It is kind of like a sports announcer starting the broadcast by saying “The team that scores the most points today will be the winner.”  But the fact that it is simple does not change the fact that it is true.  The process must begin with prayer.  By beginning with prayer, we are inviting the Spirit to guide our worship from the outset.

Prayer is kind of like tuning your guitar before worship rehearsal.  I love the lyric in Come Thou Fount “tune my heart to sing your grace.”  You see, a guitar’s strings tend to wander out of tune between uses (and sometimes even while playing it).  So, if you pick up your guitar and start playing without tuning first, the result is that the song doesn’t sound quite right.  You can recognize it, but it is not the best that it can be.

Our hearts are this way.  They wander out of tune with the Holy Spirit.  Prayer brings us back so that when we sing, the song of our hearts is as pure as it can be on this earth.  This is the position you want to start from when first sitting down to choose songs for worship.

What do I pray for as I start the process?  It is not the same every week.  I sometimes pray for efficiency and focus to fight off distractions.  Or, I might pray for God to reveal his message in the passage selected for the week.  Every once in a while I sit down and my spirit is not at peace, so I pray that God would calm my heart and help me trust in Him.  Every week, I do pray that as I choose songs, I would be led by the Spirit and that the songs would be used to glorify God and engage the hearts of our congregation.