The Still Small Voice

Strategic Listening: Heavenly Music


Chapter Eight, Part Six


Heavenly Music

The voices were many, for all in the tent seemed to be worshipping; the sound was one, the co-mingled sound of many waters. No drilled choir could have kept in such harmony and unity, with sweetest melody. The bandmaster was evidently the Holy Spirit. He can render music without rehearsals on a company of yielded instruments. Glory!
(Maria Woodworth-Etter)

Heaven is full of music! During the face-to-face encounter I described earlier, I was intensely aware of the exquisitely beautiful songs that were being sung there.

Because music touches a different hemisphere of the brain, it impacts us in ways that words alone cannot. It has been central in almost every revival and helps us to identify with the people and places the Lord is laying on our heart.

‘The devil flees before the sound of music faster than from anything except the Word of God,’ Martin Luther declared – in which case, let us seek out ways of putting music and the Word together to take us deeper in the flow of the Lord’s leading.

One of the most lovely things the Lord is doing in our time is to raise up modern day psalmists. As they express the beauty of the Lord in songs of adoration, and His heart through music that releases His power, we may suddenly find that we are, as it were, able to overhear the plans and conversations that are being carried on in the council of the Lord.

We experienced a striking example of this when one of our lead singers was given a beautiful prophetic song, ‘To those who seek His face, I will reveal My heart.’ Moments later we were crying out to the Lord on behalf of children who had been abused. The Lord then gave the worship group what I can only describe as a ‘wall of sound,’ into which were woven the screams and cries of the children. This led us as perhaps nothing else could ever have done into sharing more fully in how the Lord feels about this most grievous of sins.

The Lord then gave another anointed singer a powerful lament in an Arabic-sounding tongue. It was a perfect imitation of the music that is commonly intoned from minaret towers. Coming from a Christian, it was nothing less than the call of the Lord to the women of Islam to know Him as He really is.

The Lord has a wonderful sense of occasion. Dates and anniversaries matter to Him as well as to us. I was privileged to minister at a special service in Dresden on the 50th anniversary of the bombing of the city at the hour when the first wave of bombers dropped their lethal load that set the city ablaze and killed so many thousands of the parents and grandparents of our dear friends, shofars (rams-horns) sounded their extraordinary wail. We lifted up our hearts and voices and prayed for forgiveness to flow between Britain, America and Germany – and for angels to come where bombs had once fallen. It was one of God’s special reconciliation moments.

At a meeting in Wales, we physically divided the conference into those who were English, and those who were authentically Welsh. When the English repented of all the pain that we have inflicted on the Welsh over the centuries, the Welsh people present responded by praying that the resentment they fell as a nation as a result of this suffering be taken from them. We then moved across the divide to embrace each other. It was a precious and powerful symbol of a much-needed reconciliation. May the tide of prayer that is rising rapidly for Wales overcome the power and anger that fuels so much of Welsh nationalism through the love and power of Christ. God is hearing these prayers!

Something similar happened during a day of prayer at a YWAM base for Scotland. The Lord gave us a powerful flow on intercession for the nation, in which we were able to express our repentance for the many hurts that we, the English, have inflicted through the centuries. We felt the Lord’s grief at all the creativity the country had been robbed of, and thrilled to the exquisite music the Spirit inspired: music that captured the very essence of all the Lord intends Scotland to be.

This is by no means a new phenomenon. Back in 657, a farm labourer in the north of England used to dread the long winter evenings because his fellow workers passed them singing and creating ballads, but he himself was so profoundly tone deaf that whenever he saw his turn approaching he disappeared into one of the stables.

One night, an angel met him in his stable and told him to sing. Caedmon protested that he was no good at it, but the angel overrode his objections and ordered him to sing. So Caedmon opened his mouth and began to sing, and out came the most wondrous account of Creation. The words and music were so powerful that the moment the Abbess Hilda heard them she promptly took him with her to her monastery at Whitby in order to develop the gift the Lord had given him. Caedmon became known throughout Northumbria for his stirring songs, by means of which he taught people the ways of God.

Once, when I was speaking on the theme of spiritual warfare, and finding the going tough, my two fellow leaders slipped out to telephone home of prayer support of ‘Wives Net.’ Within seconds the atmosphere began to lift.

God can do extraordinary things through music. At the end of that meeting, as we were worshipping, several people commented on how beautiful the flute playing was. One specified that it was a wooden flute. Nothing unusual about that – except that there was no flautist present! But nearly a hundred miles away, one of our leader’s wives had begun to intercede for us while playing a wooden flute!

The Lord wants us to move far beyond the traditional pattern of the worship group, the intercessor and the teacher, all remaining as separate ministries in their own self-contained slots. The Church is not a roll-on roll-off ferry that needs such watertight compartments. It is so much more exciting if we are able to weave praise, worship, prayer and teaching together as a ‘seamless garment,’ the one fueling and inspiring the other.

All this is so different from any idea of a few packaged songs ‘before the preacher gets on with the real work.’ May the Lord raise up more and more singers and musicians to make full use of this precious means of communicating the heart of God with us!

More than fifty years ago, C.S. Lewis declared that if Europe is to be touched again by God, then it will be through a revival of music and the performing arts. We read in books such as Samuel, Chronicles and the Psalms of musicians doing things that we are only now beginning to see them doing again. Look at David playing the harp to ward off a demonic spirit that was plaguing the reigning king – or Elisha sending for a lutist in a desperate military crisis, and receiving a prophetic word that saved the combined armies of Israel and Judah.

These examples are more than just special one-offs that God did in the distant past: they have direct relevance to what He wants to do in our own situation today. May the Lord anoint us to be infinitely creative, strategic and courageous in understanding these ways and setting out to put them into practice!

For Reflection and Prayer

Lord, as we weave music, worship and intercession,
may Your Presence draw near.

May Your Still Small Voice speak to Your people
and the glory of Jesus be known
through all who sing and make music for You.

Release power and wisdom
through the preachers, writers,
artists and producers
whom You are raising up.
Direct their attention to themes
that reflect Your heart.

Let the touch of Heaven be
on all that is spoken,
written or created in Your name.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.