I’ve been a worship leader now for a little over a decade. I fell in love with worship ministry in high school during a time I was learning how to sing and play guitar.
My passion for music and ministry grew and propelled me on a trajectory to learn everything I can about musicianship, leading a band, and production in worship. I’m a self-taught sort of guy, and as you know with the rise of the internet, there’s no excuse for not learning everything you need to grow as a worship leader.
However, a few years ago, I noticed a gap in my own worship leading skill set. I was missing an important tool. I knew how to lead a band. I knew how to run a production system and team. I knew how plan services.
But I did not know how to speak or pray in worship.
For a long time I assumed that as a worship leader, I’m just the music guy. I only need to lead songs. The praying and speaking should be left to the pastors.
Don’t get me wrong. Song leading is the most crucial aspect of what we do. Worship leaders should not be preaching mini-sermons during the service.
But I arrived at a point in my ministry where I wanted to grow as a worship PASTOR. I wanted to connect with my congregation on a deeper level in worship. I wanted to be more intentional about what I say or pray during the service.
Regardless of your title, whether you’re a worship leader, director, or minister. Regardless of whether or not you are paid staff at your church. If you are the guy or gal responsible for planning worship every week, you have a pastoral role and responsibility.
I love how Zak Hicks puts it in his book, The Worship Pastor.
Each and every week, you are helping people answer the question, How do I approach God? Every worship service consistently shapes the faith of God’s people by training them on what relating to God looks like. And faith shaping is pastoral work. Ready or not, you’re a pastor.
If we are to grow in our pastoral role and responsibility as worship leaders, we need to put more thought and intentionality into what we say or pray in between songs.
But I know it can be terrifying.
I know what it’s like to stumble through our words or resort to repetitive spiritual cliches.
I know what it’s like to draw a blank in the middle of a prayer.
Most of us are not professionally trained communicators, theologians, or preachers. But that’s okay. You do not need to be any of those in order to share brief and thoughtful words with your congregation in worship.
To help you get started with what to say or pray in worship, I want to share with you seven practical steps you can apply to your weekly worship planning so you can speak or pray in worship with confidence and ease.
Step #1 - Be a life-long student of the Bible and theology.
Meaningful thoughts and prayers are not going to appear in your head magically. You need to be a lifelong learner of the Bible and theology so you always have fresh insights you can share with your congregation in worship. Think of it as a pool of knowledge which you can pull from when the opportunity arises. When you’re not growing in your knowledge of God and His Word, you will not have many meaningful or edifying things to share in worship.
Step #2 - Identify one or two spots in your worship service where you want to say or pray something.
Worship leaders should not be constantly speaking or praying. Our job primarily is to lead songs. So as you plan your service, identify one or two opportunities where it would be ideal for you to speak. Maybe it could be at the opening of the service. Maybe it will work well during a song transition. Maybe it could be when you finish the worship set and you say a prayer before the sermon. It all depends on your context.
Step #3 - Script what you will say or pray.
There is nothing unholy or unspiritual about preparing what you are going to say or pray in worship. Some folks think we should be able to just wing it. While I believe the Holy Spirit does guide us as worship leaders as we lead in our services, doesn’t the Holy Spirit lead and guide us in our preparation for worship? I sure hope so. And according to a healthy theology of the Spirit, he does. Don’t be afraid to sit down and literally write or type what you want to say.
Step #4 - Practice what you will say or pray out loud.
For your speaking or praying to sound natural and authentic, you should practice out loud. Say it in the shower or during your commute. Share it with friends and family. The best public speaking is the type that sounds like everyday conversation. Don’t feel restricted by your script. It is a tool to help you articulate your thoughts. Practice saying these thoughts till it feels and sounds natural.
Step #5 - Practice what you will say or pray during rehearsal.
Now that you know what you will say and when you will say it in the service, practice it during your band rehearsal. Often integrating speaking with music can be tricky. I recommend having other band members play softly underneath you so you do not need to play your instrument at the same time and you can focus on what you have to share.
Step #6 - Engage your congregation when you deliver.
When the moment of truth comes in the worship service, look at your congregation. Engage them like a normal person would in conversation. This is my favorite part of speaking or praying in worship because I feel like I connect with my congregation on a personal level. Take your time and don’t forget to speak with energy and animation. Your congregation wants to hear from you. They need you to pastor them through worship.
Step #7 - Enroll in my free training, Speak Between Songs.
You may be struggling right now to know what exactly it is you want to share with your congregation. As I mentioned in step one, your best content will come from a life of learning and relationship with God. But if you want some practical ideas for how to get started, sign up for my free 3-part video trainig, Speak Between Songs.
Click the button, complete the form, and access to the free training will instantly be sent to your inbox. I hope it gives you some concrete ideas for getting started with speaking or praying in worship.