by Alex Rettmann
Begin with prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Debrief last week’s practice in small groups (15-20 minutes)
If you are in a Community of seven or more, divide into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender).
Spend a few minutes catching up on life…
Then talk through the following debrief questions:
- Did you listen to the teaching? What did you think?
- Do you ever sing your prayers to God? Is it hard or something that comes naturally? Why do you think that is?
- Have you ever encountered God in a powerful or overwhelming way through song? If not, is there another way you sense God’s presence?
Transition back to one large group (5 minutes)
Ask a few questions about the last week’s Practice:
- Any stories from the last week’s Practice that you would like to encourage the whole group with?
- Any “aha” moments of breakthrough?
- Any highs or lows?
Read this overview
No matter who you are, there’s something in or around you that you can recognize to be wrong. Be it a specific situation in your personal life (words you shared or should have shared with a loved one, a relative dying from cancer, an addiction to pornography, etc) or a larger issue around you in the world (kids without enough to eat, rape as a weapon of war, political unrest, etc), everyone has the ability to deeply feel something that’s out of place or wrong. Or maybe it’s not overtly wrong; maybe it’s something that you just want to be different (wanting a better housing situation, feeling stuck in the routines of motherhood, feeling anxious about a job interview). Big or small, we know that God sees us and cares about our situation.
One expression for all of this ache and desire that we see in the Scripture is singing. The Psalms, as we discussed last week, are an ancient prayer book of sorts. But it wasn’t just a book of prayers. It was a book of prayer meant to be sung. Why? Because worship changes us, it moves God, and it changes situations. Lifting our voices in song can change our hearts and minds about God. It can also change our perspective on the world around us and on our own personal lives. Augustine said that the one who sings prays twice. Whether in your room alone, in your car on the way to work, in a living room with friends, or at church on a Sunday – there is something uniquely intimate and powerful about singing our prayers. And one of the most amazing things about singing as prayer is that it not only changes perspective, but it can actually move God to change the world around us.
Talk about the coming week’s Practice as a Community (10–30 minutes)
The previous weeks’ curricula have included a practice to do as a Community and one to do individuals, but this week might be a little different. For your communal Practice, there are a few options. Feel free to do worship as a Community tonight. If someone likes to lead worship or is musically gifted, using that gift can be a huge blessing to a Community. And God might want to create a unique culture of worship with your Community. But if that sounds totally scary to you and your Community, then make it a point to sit together the coming Sunday and worship together.
That being said, we recognize that this might be a practice you want to start on your own. So, very practically and on a personal level, your Practice this week is to start singing prayers to God. It’s really simple:
- Pick a Date/Time: Get out your calendar or journal, and set a time and place to pray that is quiet and distraction fee. For most, the mornings are a good time – maybe it’s on your way to work or on a walk at lunch time or when the kids are down for their nap. Try for 3 days this week. Though it would be awesome to do it everyday.
- Prepare: If you are musically inclined, look up some chords to a favorite worship song. If you aren’t, don’t worry! God loves your voice (even if the people in front of you at church may not)! Make a playlist or pick out an album – Hillsong, Matthew Zigenis, Bethel, or something instrumental are great options.
- Sing: Play the music (your own instrument or something to sing along to) and sing to God. You can sing along with the songs or make up your own words. In these moments, you could even sing through your Prayer Cards or think of a person or situation that you want God to target with His goodness and Kingdom. Sing over these desires and present your requests to God through song.
Work through these discussion questions (10-15 minutes)
- After hearing the teaching and reading through the curriculum, how do you feel about singing as prayer?
- Any thoughts, creative ideas, or feedback on this coming week’s Practice?
- What time and place works best for you to do this Practice?
Close in prayer (10 minutes)