Worship Leaders Need Regular Silence
by Justin Rizzo
Training and Events
As worship leaders, it’s imperative that we regularly spend time in silence.
Let me explain.
Our job is worship. We live in music and spend a good amount of time pouring ourselves out in words during worship services, in discipleship, and sowing into our teams. We are surrounded by noise (except for in libraries and of course, Target stores). Not to mention the noise experienced via the small handheld supercomputer you’re probably holding in your hand right now reading this.
Silence and solitude are imperative for connecting with the Holy Spirit because they create an atmosphere in which we’re least likely to be stirred up (Psalm 46:10). I love the words of Jesus in Matthew 6, “When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place.” The point is not that you need to literally be in a closed room, but that you need to find a quiet place without the noise and traffic of the world pressing in on you.
Henri Nouwen explains in a powerful book on this topic that the solitude we need is not simply being alone but being alone with God, and that the silence we need is not simply listening to nothing but listening to God. When understood in this light, it is not always absolute silence that we require, but a quietness of the heart that comes from regularly resting in His presence.
You don’t just want to have the memory of having once had a life of prayer; you want to have a fresh vibrant relationship with Him today and to receive His daily bread (Matthew 6:11). This won’t happen on the run, and it won’t happen mostly on a platform or sitting in church once or twice a week. It takes an intentional act of your will to sit down, quiet your spirit, and commune with God on a daily basis.
The best definition I’ve heard of fellowshiping with the Holy Spirit is simply talking to Him, turning your thoughts into prayer. This fellowship is best done in quietness, away from the traffic of our busy days. However, the beautiful reality of a relationship with God is that you can fellowship with the Holy Spirit no matter where you are or what you’re doing, because it is the stillness of our hearts that matters more than the literal silence to our ears.
I know CEOs and businessmen who’d probably give some ministries a run for their money by how frequently they turn their focused attention to God in prayer. It is not always the length of time spent in quietness that matters as much as it is the frequency with which we make those quiet connections. This is part of what it means to pray without ceasing.
Steal away those moments of silence while you’re at work, school, or at home with your kids. Tell God you love Him, ask Him questions about what He’s thinking or feeling about you, share with Him honestly how you’re feeling. And then take a few moments to listen.
One of my favorite things to do is to take a few minutes before I lead a worship set, and get completely alone in (relative) silence and ask God what He’s thinking and feeling about me and the worship set I’m about to lead. Every time I slow down and make this connection, I feel a difference.
Maybe you feel like your devotional time with God is lacking, or maybe you even feel like you’re failing. But don’t count yourself out. Let me tell you clearly that the fact that you have a desire for a greater, more intimate relationship with God shows that you are sincere in your devotion. That’s actually a working of the Holy Spirit.
I would never tell you to not reach for more, but I would encourage you not to be so hard on yourself. It’s not too late to begin to cultivate quiet connections throughout your day. Start today to look for and capitalize on moments of silence no matter where you are. As you feel the refreshing power of stillness before Him, you’ll begin to find yourself looking with renewed eagerness for silent moments throughout your day. Ask God to show you the power of silence to keep your mind and heart ever connected to His.
What helps you quiet your heart with God in those daily moments of silence?
Justin was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, where he developed a passion and love for music at an early age. He began playing a variety of instruments and started leading worship at age 12. He has released five albums and been featured on multiple compilation projects along with writing and producing two full-length musicals. In addition, he travels extensively to lead worship and speak at conferences and events around the world. Justin is currently a full-time staff member at the International House of Prayer of Kansas City, Missouri, where he serves as a worship leader, songwriter, composer, and blogger.