All of the great revivals in this country happened when prayer, social justice and worship overlapped – William Wilberforce helped legally end slavery in the UK, William and Mary Booth set up the Salvation Army to help the poor, two old ladies praying together started the Hebridean revival. Their faith moved them into action. People took notice of what they were doing, and the spiritual atmosphere shifted. Prayer and justice practically outworked made faith something tangible and led to many people coming to know Jesus.
Out of the overflow of these contexts came a whole bunch of songs which we still sing today. It’s when we as the church rise up in pursuit of Him in all areas of our lives (not just our singing on a Sunday) that we will see Him move mightily. Our worship can’t be said to be authentic unless we’re living it. It’s easy to belt out “Great are You Lord” at the top of our lungs on a Sunday morning but it’s significantly more difficult on a drizzly Wednesday evening after a rubbish day. Ultimately worship is a choice. We have to choose to put Him first - in our singing and in our living. God makes it clear that prayer and justice are non-negotiable ingredients in the life of an authentic worshiper:
‘Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.’ Amos 5:23-24 (NIV)
What this reinforces is that worship is not so much about the singing, or a stage or any other stuff we add to the activity of worship; rather, it’s more about living a life of submission. Neil Bennetts says that worship ultimately must be: ‘all to Him, for Him and about Him.
What we are seeking as worshipers is not the perfect set, or a “secret chord” but rather to exalt Him to the highest place, above all else in our lives. As we glorify Him and wait upon Him, we become more aware of his presence. His presence changes everything – it changes us for the better and mends the broken culture around us.
Culture is changed spiritually but this also happens practically. Of course, individually we can’t do it all, but we can all play our part. Maybe it looks like reading the news and praying for our world, maybe it means buying Fairtrade, maybe it means stopping to chat to the homeless. Whatever it looks like for you, let’s be worshipers who are practically part of bringing revival through prayer and justice, because our lives are our worship as well as our songs and a life laid down is a life He can use.
‘This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.’ 1 John 3:16
Dan Goodwright is a part of the Soul Survivor family and leads worship here at church. He’s currently in his second year at the Royal Holloway in London studying Liberal Arts & History. He has read all seven Harry Potter books twenty seven times each…. EACH!!! Thats over twenty million words, the equivalent to reading the whole bible front to back, forty times! When Dan isn’t leading worship, he’s often playing football or tennis with his mates. He’s currently in the process of writing some of his own songs which we’re all excited to hear soon. We love you Dan (Even if you are a Man City fan….)