Expression (in worship) then moves to a zenith, a climatic point, not unlike physical lovemaking (doesn’t Solomon use the same analogy in the Song of Songs?). We have expressed what is in our hearts and minds and bodies, and now it is time to wait for God to respond. Stop talking and wait for him to speak, to move. I call this, the fourth phase, visitation: The almighty God visits his people. His visitation is a byproduct of worship. We don’t worship in order to gain his presence. He is worthy to be worshiped whether or not he visits us. But God “dwells in the praises of his people.” So we should always come to worship prepared for an audience with the King. And we should expect the Spirit of God to work among us. He moves in different ways – sometimes for salvation, sometimes for deliverances, sometimes for sanctification or healings. God also visits us through the prophetic gifts. John Wimber
Our Theme: ON WORSHIP.
In all honesty, most Christians are not nearly patient enough, nor are we informed enough to allow God enough time for this phase of worship to happen. In most church settings, we come into worship, sing a few songs to God, and then move right on into the next part of our service, i.e., the announcements, the pastor’s message, the offering, etc.
Now don’t get me wrong. All of these other activities are vitally important in the life of a vibrant church community, but sadly, most churches today fail to realize that God actually wants to join our worship experience; giving his response to the worship we’ve been giving him. If a group of Jesus-followers, for example, 1) respond to the call to worship; 2) actively engage with God through acts of worship, and 3) pour out their expressed love toward God, Wimber felt that we should always make room for this fourth phase of worship where we give the stage back to God, allowing him to respond to all he has received from us. But let’s face it folks. Most church services across North America today tend to treat our worship times as one-way communication tools, where we dump our worship at the feet of God, but then leave the room before giving him an equal opportunity to respond!
In the earliest days of the Vineyard, it was very customary for God’s people to wait in God’s presence at the end of our musical worship time, giving the Holy Spirit plenty of opportunity to bring a response to our worship.
But let’s be gut honest here.
In truth, the idea of any open space in a Sunday morning gathering is as frightening as hell to much of our Americanized, git-r-done, seeker-sensitive modes of worship. Heaven forbid if we pastors or leaders would actually burn fifteen minutes off the clock, waiting for ole God to respond to our praise! For so many of us, just five minutes of quiet, in the midst of a Sunday morning service, seems like an eternity! And what about the idea of an open mike on the floor where folks in the pews can share a word of encouragement to others after a time of worship? Yikes! To most pastors today, that’s an instant recipe for disaster!
So there you have it, my friends.
Phase four of worship can be a beautiful thing: a visitation from God that, quite honestly, can change everything in the life and ministry of our churches. But are we brave enough to actually allow it to happen?
Let me close with this little word of encouragement.
We must keep in mind that all of this stuff in phase four falls under the category of practicing the presence of God. And remember, as Wimber used to say…”Everything down here is all about practice.” As I see it, God doesn’t expect us to get it right all the time, but he does expect us to practice!
So what if you and I decide at our next corporate worship time to stop ourselves short as we reach the end of phase three in worship? How about as we get to the end of our worship song set, we decide to give five to ten minutes back to God, letting him say or do something if he’d like? Just imagine! God responding, as only he can, with a visitation of his presence!
Sounds kind of scary doesn’t it? And, maybe, just maybe, a bit enthralling as well!
Pastor, I dare you to go first!
Heavenly Father, I’m quick to admit that this phase four of worship (a visitation of God) scares me. Turning things over to you looks really good on paper, or in the Bible, but when push comes to shove, Sunday morning is the hardest place to truly allow you to do whatever you want, however you want, and whenever you want! Yet, Holy Spirit, I know the church belongs to you. So with that in mind, I say, come, Holy Spirit, come! Respond to our worship of you, as you wish. For your name’s sake. Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO PONDER
- What needs to change in my attitude and my actions when it comes to allowing God the freedom to visit his people as he wants instead of how I might desire it to occur?
- Am I in the way of allowing God to respond with his visitation or am I actually brave enough to give him all the space he needs to respond as he chooses?
So, what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Wisdom of Wimber?
Between Easter 2016 and the end of August, we are sharing with you a blog series we call The Wisdom of Wimber: As I See It. In order to keep all 64 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Wisdom of Wimber page for ease of use. Might we also suggest that you order a copy or two of our book by the same title! It’s available in both paperback and e-book formats…and will soon be available in Spanish! Click here for more info. ENJOY!
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