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Three Songs and a Prayer

Three Songs and a Prayer


Today’s popular rebellion against “the establishment” has spawned both

good and bad elements. As might be expected, there are some who are

genuinely concerned that cold formalism and traditional bindings give way

to sincere, spontaneous worship of the true God. And there are those who

use current discussions to promote childish emotions and clap-trap

schemes to “improve the worship” – schemes as much or more mechanical

than those they seek to replace. (Stand in a circle, hold hands with your

neighbors, close your eyes, turn your faces to God, if you know the

direction, and sway gently as you pray. If that does not produce the “Spirit”

let me know, and I will change the recipe.)

There are many who accept the word of God as the means of determining

the proper concept of the church, its worship and work but recognize that

many details are left to judgment and expediency. They are re-examining

such practices to see if “better ways” can be found. We should never allow

“the way we have done it” to be accorded the status of divine law. And if

someone can find a better arrangement than three songs and a prayer, then

let us consider it. But don’t think a change is better, just because it is a

change, and if some are “tradition bound” surely the more mature,

“spiritually minded” will exercise great patience toward all.

Sometimes the changers are neophytes having zeal without knowledge or

experience, who cripple their own plans and the good they could do, by

their childishness. I heard of one fellow, who thought the contribution

should be more distinctly separated from the Lord’s Supper. This is good

thinking and is implemented in some churches by careful announcement,

or different time and ushers. But I was told that this fellow refused to give

unless they accepted his “reform.” In another place discussion of the

traditional nature of the “invitation song” led some to say that a service was

not “scriptural” unless it contained an “invitation song,” and others said

there was no authority for singing to sinners at any time.

The “traditional” expediency is often the fruit of years of testing by trial and

error and has endured, because it has proven to be workable and good.

Change, especially radical and abrupt change, may be distracting and

produce an effect the very opposite of that desired. It may open the way for

problems the “traditional” method was developed to solve, but of which

this generation knows nothing. There is no place in Christianity for

anarchic revolution.

And as regards “spontaneous” worship (“everyone hath a psalm, hath a

doctrine, hath a tongue” - 1Cor. 14) even when such signs were a part of

delivery and confirmation of the word of God, Paul called for order (v.40)

“let all things be done unto edifying” (v. 26), and said “the spirit of the

prophets are subject to the prophets,” (v. 32). Team effort (collective

action) is “opposed” to independent action (see dictionary), which means

that when the church worships together, there must be some regulation.

This will not restrict sincerity for those who are truly spiritual.

- Robert Turner