Feeling God’s Presence During Charismatic Praise and Worship

What are the conditions? What are the things that have to be “just right” for God’s presence to manifest and be felt in a church or home where praise and worship is going on? Many charismatics have had those special times where they have been lost in worship: they closed their eyes, raised their arms, and focused on the Lord, and they were baptized in the Spirit, spoke in tongues, and felt His comfort all over them. The conditions were just right: then years followed when they didn’t have the experience: and how frustrated they must be! What if I told you that there are charismatic leaders who have written about this and have provided guidelines for worship leaders to keep the presence of God coming in our lives? What if I told you that you can invite the presence of God into your home and you don’t have rely on shaky relationships at your charismatic church, in order to keep going there, just to feel God’s presence, even if you hate going to that church because of the people? In this article I intend to do just that…

Key Scriptures

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.                                                                      –Ephesians 5:18-20

Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs…Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.
                                                                                                                                      –Psalm 100:2, 4

Thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
                                                                    –Psalm 22:3, KJV

By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually.
                                                                                        –Hebrews 13:15, KJV

Contemporary Christian Rock Worship Teams

“For many, the scene that comes to mind when a charismatic is mentioned is that of an enthusiastic Christian with a transfigured face and lifted hands. Charismatics have given the church Scripture songs and choruses, guitars and drums, clapping and dancing, worship teams and banners, song sheets and overheads, worship seminars and conferences, as well as enthusiastic faith and infectious joy.” – WorshipTraining

“Placing greater value on the physical and emotional dimensions in worship greatly affects the musical style of charismatic worship. Most noticeable is the greater emphasis on rhythm in worship music. More than melody or harmony, rhythm corresponds to the physical side of human personality. A charismatic worship band is generally built around a rhythm section (piano or guitars, bass and drums) rather than around an organ. The organ doesn’t easily accompany hand-clapping praise music.” – WorshipTraining

Led by the Holy Spirit

“First, the intervening presence of the Holy Spirit activates the priestly functions of worshipers. Second, worship involves the whole person’s spirit, soul and body. Third, the act of worship is a progression into the manifest presence of God. Fourth, worship creates an atmosphere where God’s power is revealed. And fifth, worship is more than singing: it is serving.” – WorshipTraining

“So for the charismatic, the Holy Spirit is the activator who takes us out of neutral and prompts the various expressions of worship. Worship, then, can be understood as the grateful sacrifices offered by activated priests discovering their ministry unto God.” – WorshipTraining

Spontaneous Singing of Simple Choruses

“The physical and emotional dimensions of charismatic worship heighten the spiritual dimension of worship. A practice unique to the charismatic movement is singing in the Spirit. Based on 1 Corinthians 14:15, this practice involves singing spontaneous words and melodies around a fixed chord or slowly moving chord progression. Sometimes referred to as free worship or open worship, this song form has affected regular congregational singing among charismatics…This spontaneous quality of worship, along with a renewed desire for personal experience in worship, has created a burgeoning new library of contemporary, testimonial and simple-to-learn choruses.” – WorshipTraining

Physical Expressions

“Charismatic worship is demonstrative. It is something you do. It is not passive. Charismatic worship includes hearty singing, lifting of hands, bowing, clapping, dancing, and shouting [and speaking in tongues].” – WorshipTraining

“Most traditions acknowledge the mental and spiritual aspects of worship. The charismatic makes sure we don’t forget the physical and emotional elements of worship.” – WorshipTraining

Miraculous Faith and Gifts Tend Be Side Effects of Charismatic Worship

“Faith for miracles, healing, and deliverance from evil spirits seems to come more easily following vigorous worship. American evangelist T. L. Osborn regularly played the popular charismatic worship tape “All Hail King Jesus” (Hosanna! Music, 1985) for thirty minutes through loud speakers before his crusades in Africa and testified that miracles happened even before the preaching because of the atmosphere of power the worship music created. Jack Hayford, pastor and songwriter from California, prescribed regular singing to a woman in his church who was unable to have children. Based on Isaiah 54:1, the counsel was put into action and a year later the woman was a mother of a baby girl. Elisha called for a harpist before he prophesied (2 Kings 3:15). King Saul was relieved of the oppression of evil spirits when David played on his harp (1 Sam. 16:23). In the New Testament, Paul and Silas sang and prayed in prison when God answered with an earthquake (Acts 16:25-26).” – WorshipTraining

Observations About Charismatic Worship Based on John Wimber Videos

1. John Wimber’s Teaching on Church Worship. You’re not supposed to “get” anything out of worship: you’re supposed to give praise to God. It’s not about us, it’s about God. James 4:8: “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” Does it please God? is the real question. Praise and worship is preparation for worship in Heaven (as it says in the book of Hebrews). Just like when a cop points a gun at a criminal and says “Put your hands up!” so also does the law of God point at us and command us to put our hands up to God in surrender. 1 Timothy 2:8: “I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.” It is a way of saying, “God, You are holy, I am not: I surrender my self-will and my sinful habits over to Your authority and control.” The worship songs are supposed to be directed TO God and are FOR God. We need to be living a HOLY LIFE in order to experience the full blessing of worship.

2. John Wimber, Pastor of the Vineyard, Singing in the Spirit. Pacing around with closed eyes, focused on God, starts to sing “Spirit of the Living God” by Daniel Iverson. People start raising their hands, and then spontaneously sing in tongues, sort of in a loose, up and down, antiphonal way. Some occasional clapping. In the middle a man and a woman prophesy to the congregation something with an authoritative and exhorting tone. The prophetess starts to cry. People start to cry. Then John goes to the piano and sings “Jesus” by Debby Kerner.

3. Worship. “Who Is Qualified to Worship?” Psalm 24:1-6. Humans are created to worship; and if they don’t worship God, then they will worship something, as it is with evolutionists, who worship nature. While singing the song, “Great Is Your Love,” you see people closing their eyes, and singing from memory, they are focusing on the Lord, with their arms held out in a receiving posture, to receive the presence of God. Instruments used: (1) song leader: acoustic guitar, microphone; (2) backup singer: microphone; (3) pianist: Korg electric keyboard; (4) drum set; (5) bass guitar; (6) electric guitar (as a background instrument).

4. Vineyard Conference Worship. Leader is Eddie Espinoza. Opening with “Hosanna” by Carl Tuttle. Definitely a favorite song. People are clapping and some raising their hands. Later on some people dance back and forth in a sort of side-to-side pace. Hopping up and down – “pogo stick” style I think they called it. Some people would twirl and interlock elbows and swing around again and do that. “Blessed Be The Lord God Almighty” by Kelly Willard. “Shine Jesus Shine” by Graham Kendrick. Lighthearted at times.

Further Reading

Hayford, Jack. Worship His Majesty. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1987, 2000.

Hosanna! Music. All Hail King Jesus” – 1985.

Mercy/Vineyard Ministries International. “Worship Songs of the Vineyard: No One But You” – 1989.

Law, Terry. The Power of Praise and Worship. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 2008. Originally 1985.

Williams, Don. “Charismatic Worship,” Exploring the Worship Spectrum. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004. Vineyard perspective.

Wimber, John. Worship. 5 DVD set. $75. 1989.

WorshipTraining. “A Charismatic Theology of Worship.”

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