A Tip for Worship Leaders: Read the Psalms Every Day.
Every disciple should read the Bible every day, that’s a given. And, we’re not talking about a 15-minute reading plan so that we can put a check mark on the task list. We’re talking about living life with the Bible as our reference book, just like Deuteronomy 6 instructs us. Whatever your method is, as you live out the calling to lead God’s people in worship, make Psalms part of your daily reading. There are some very practical reasons why.
- The structure of the Psalms teaches us about worship. The Psalms are divided into five books. We have superscriptions that give us context as well as authorship and tune names. They are quoted in other biblical texts providing even more perspective. We learn so much about worship just by observing how these songs and prayers are organized and preserved for us.
- The variety of the Psalms inspires us to explore expression in worship. There are a dozen or so different kinds of psalms. What does that tell us? That our worship should and will have variety. Some days we cry, others we shout. Sometimes we question God in expressions of honesty and other times God questions us. We mourn and dance, sing and sit in silence. Every time we read the Psalms we gain the confidence to approach God in many ways in every season.
- The instruction of the Psalms teaches us how to pray. My friend, Chuck Fromm often says, “Psalms are sung prayer.” He’s right. These sacred texts, no matter if they are read, sung, or written down, become the prayers we pray in our moments of petition. They inform the way we pray, compelling us to “enter with thanksgiving” and to “praise Him with the trumpet.”
- The promises of the Psalms help us move through life in faith. These inspired words were penned by people expressing their worship to God in the context of living. There are days of joy and days of grief. Moments of understanding and moments of confusion. In contrast, the Gospel writers were writing the story and message of Jesus. Both were inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Gospels give us revelation. The Psalms show us ways to respond to God. Their honestly and transparency help us relate to God.
Read the Bible from cover to cover. Make sure to spend lots of time in the Old Testament and find the questions that Jesus alone answers. Saturate yourself in the Gospels and in Acts to learn about the love of a Savior and the mission of His life that is now ours. Dive deep into the theology of Paul’s letters, and the epistles of Peter, John, and Jude. Don’t miss the rich theology of Hebrews and James. Read Revelation with a longing for the day we will celebrate the marriage feast of the Lamb.
But, whatever you do, read the Psalms. Every day. And you will see a change in the way you plan and lead worship.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.