What do you say to lead worship?
Seems like a basic question but a quick examination of modern worship leading reveals that many model their worship leadership verbiage off of their favorite performers or entertainers. Instead of doing the hard work of daily planting the Word of God in our hearts, we often seek to draw from wells dug by others. We choose paths of least resistance by recycling the same staple verses or worse, imitate tired, Christian cliches and jargon: “Can I get a hand-clap of praise, church?”
We can do better. God deserves better and wants to be worshipped by His book, with His Word.
The author of Hebrews describes the Word of God as a “two-edged” sword capable of penetrating to the soul and spirit, able to judge the thoughts and intentions of a person (Hebrews 4:12). It was the Word of God that Christ Himself quoted in the wilderness that caused the devil to flee (Matt 4:10-11). In Revelation 12:11, the devil is ultimately destroyed by the “blood of the Lamb and the Word”.
What we say to lead others in worship reveals the source of our authority. We’re either leading from the authority of Scripture or the authority of self and only one source is truly effective.
There’s not a single note we can play or a clever thought we can share that can change a life, but God’s word is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12), useful for equipping the saints (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It functions as a source of illumination (Psalm 119:105) and invites blessing when obeyed (Luke 11:28). In sum, the Word of God is the power source for life transformation and the greatest, most dynamic tool a worship leader can use to guide, direct and lead people to the throne room.
When worship leaders use the Word of God, they recognize that their occupation and service rests not on their talent, ability or strength but on the power of God and His Word. It’s a confession of humility. With that in mind, it is critical for worship leaders to know the Word of God well. A great place to start is in the book of Psalms. As the original hymnal of the Jewish people the book of psalms is filled with calls to worship that command our attention and affections towards God.
God promises that His Word will never return void (Isaiah 55:11). When you lead worship “by the book” and out of the authority of God’s Word, it takes on a new dimension. You tap directly into the power source and lead out of a timeless authority that rests not in your ability but upon the Almighty.
Below is a list of 25 short verses from the Psalms (ESV) that every worship leader can write on their heart and draw upon as they call people to worship. We memorize things that are important to us (social security numbers, pin numbers, birthdays, anniversaries, addresses). What could be more important to a worship leader than memorizing the Word of God?
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him!
Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.
Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.
From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised! The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens!
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Exalt the Lord our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
Psalm 145: 1-5
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created.
Psalm 148: 1-5a
Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples. Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he!