Why must we practice so much? “At my Charismatic church the band usually practices maybe an hour a week. Then on Sunday these guys warm up for 15 minutes before the service starts. At my previous church the organist simply played the music and we sang the hymns along with him. Is it necessary to practice and practice and practice our worship of God?”
I understand your question, because we don’t practice our prayers beforehand, nor do we practice the offering. Yet these are all part of our sincere worship of God. What’s so special about our singing?
Singing is different, because it requires certain skills that speaking our prayers and giving our money do not. Music is an art form. It can be done badly, or it can be done well. So the prior question is: Is God worthy of our best music, our best singing? Or must we offer Him “that which costs us nothing”? — 1 Samuel 24:24
So the prior question, the higher question, is “Who is God?” If He is an ordinary human being like us, then we can offer Him our ordinary efforts at playing our instruments and singing. But if He is the One who sits on the High Throne of the Universe, we must not treat Him carelessly.
Read about His high splendour and awesome majesty in Revelation 4, and you will also be moved to lay the prized crowns of your talents at His feet, and sing with the heavenly hosts: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power” (v11) You certainly will not be inclined to offer Him your ordinary, unrehearsed music!
“Practice makes perfect” says the old adage. Yes, we will practice our music, our singing, to raise them to the highest standard we can. So when we gather in the assembly of God’s people on Sunday, we will lead them without an uncertain sound, without fumbling the instruments or mumbling the words. The congregation will sing with confidence, if the music leads them with confidence. Practising the music and singing beforehand will generate that confidence.
We must move beyond the lower question about “practising” the music. Let’s be highly conscious of who our God is — His highest rank, surpassing the angels. Yes, He surpasses the high-ranking officials, CEOs, presidents and kings of this earth. This has other ramifications too.
We will also dress appropriately for our assembled worship of the most important being in the universe. Many modern pastors, worship leaders, singing groups and bands deliberately “dress down” for the Sunday worship service. But — would they dress down for a meeting with an earthy president or king? Of course not.
To justify their casual dress, they quote 1 Samuel 16:7 “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” While it’s true that a smart suit can hide a sinful heart, it is also true that the outward appearance usually expresses the attitude of the inward heart. When we “dress up” to meet an earthly king, we do so to show our inner respect for his or her position. Then surely we should show higher respect for the King of kings!
It was David’s high respect for God that prompted him to plan that magnificent temple. “The task is great, because this palatial building is not for man but for Yahweh God” — 1 Chronicles 29:1b. A deep awareness of the high greatness of God will affect so much that we do in worshipping Him.
So we return to that earlier question: “Why must we practice our music and singing so much?” The deeper answer must reflect our heart-attitude to God: “Because we want to give to our High God the very best we can”. This heart-attitude to the Most High God is seen in the music performed to Him in the Old Testament: 288 trainers and students practised to become “skilled in music for Yahweh” — 1 Chronicles 25:7,8. Our churches need this attitude and disciplined, practised training today! That charismatic church band needs our encouragement — not our criticism!