Written by Mike Verkaik
“Are we going to go to this again next week? When we get back, we need to begin a praise and prayer time like this at our church!” Those were the words of the students after attending an hour of praise and prayer time at a local church in Fish Hoek. Even though it was a Monday night and it went longer than most of the students church services back home, it didn’t matter as they were caught up in the presence of their risen King through the power of prayer, praise and testimony.
What was it that kept them longing for more as they left that evening and walked back to the Retreat Center. I believe it was a glimpse and taste of heavenly worship. Revelation 5 worship as the elders fall down before our triumphant Lamb, holding golden bowls of our persistent prayers which give off a fragrance of incense before the throne of our Father. And the angels joining in song:
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousands times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:
“worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
What a privilege it was, as a follower of Jesus, to dwell in that room, filled with the Holy Spirit, and join our South African brothers and sisters in unified praise and prayer to our Father. As the night progressed, the barriers of fear, and others perception of us were stripped away as we found new freedom in being the worshippers we were created to be.
So, the students, being true to their word and conviction, held the first praise and worship time this past Sunday in Western Michigan. With the music and prayers still echoing in my head, I sit and ponder all that God orchestrated through their hungry hearts. Africa taught these students about their God. How their Dad delights in them and they can trust Him as a good Father, how Jesus longs for us to live in the freedom of the cross and the power of His resurrection, and how to rest in the presence of the Holy Spirit who equips us anytime He calls us to step on the water and trust.
As the people began to file in last night, we stood in amazement as we started adding more chairs to the horseshoe to accommodate the overflow of people. Then the lyrics to the first song began:
There is nothing worth more, that could ever come close, No thing could compare, You’re our living hope.
Your presence Lord.
I’ve tasted and seen, of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free, and my shame is undone. Your presence Lord.
How fitting to begin worshiping our God from the position of our emptiness in life without Him. Tasting and understanding the love our Father has for us, and the freedom we obtain when we live into His presence. Freedom from guilt, shame and fear that brings His hope and joy to our souls.
A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else!
Psalm 84:10 (NLT)
As we finished our worship time, I was struck by what a blessing it is to be a part of a community that corporately seeks more of the presence of our Lord. A community praising and praying together while sharing in the joys and the sufferings of being a follower of our resurrected Lord. The good news is you don’t need to go to South Africa with us to experience it. It is as close as finding a local church/group that has a passion for asking, seeking and sharing more of His presence. Go find a place, or start a group where you can join with the angels in saying;
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.