We all have periods in our journey where we feel we’re at a dry point, or unable to do, say, think or feel like we might ‘normally’. Every journey has hills and valleys, no journey is a straight road. Therefore you will need different things at different points of your journey. As a mover and dancer sometimes, we can feel pressure on our Christian dance movement journey to always be moving and responding to life in a way that uses movement. My journey over the past 3 months or so has experienced what dance can look like in a dry season and how you begin to make your way out.
Work with where you are at
I was beginning to hear more and more about people feeling guilty because they weren’t dancing when they were ‘supposed to be’. This struck more of a cord with me than people probably realised.
Despite me teaching and sharing with you all so much I have been in a dry season of my Christian dance movement. That’s meant that I haven’t felt a pull to dance or move in gusto that I might normally have. Often, I simply took one movement as my offering in that moment. Why this season presented itself I don’t fully know. Apart from there being a lot of external issues that we were dealing and processing as a family. Which meant that my capacity to do Christian dance movement or much else has been very small.
I began to struggle with the fact that I wasn’t dancing like I was telling everyone else to, questioning my abilities as teacher, leader and mentor. But as I journeyed with this weight – because it felt like a weight – I realised that each time I just managed a movement. One simple movement. That was the biggest offering that I could give at that time, and often, it always turned to be exactly what I needed at that time.
As this settled and I chatted with God about this more He drew my attention to others that were struggling with the same thing. So, whilst away on the Going Deeper dance weekend the topic came up again and this is what I’d love you to grasp.
We should never feel the pressure to do Christian dance movement just because that might be our language of conversation with God. Don’t dismiss or judge what you may be feeling about not doing it at the time. There will be clear moments when the purpose of using dance and movement will be made clear.
God meets us where we are at. If that’s simply standing or holding our hands out or breathing. That’s our movement to him in that season, and that’s okay!
There will be a turning point where things shift. Don’t rush it. Just give it space. For me, the turning point has begun. It begun over the course of the Going Deeper dance weekend. Emma offered up space for us to choose to make room for God.
Whilst I know I’ve made room for Him over the past 3 months or so. I know that the room I’ve given him may not have been the room he wanted! So, the turning point for me was the phrase ‘I will make room for you’. Room for God to breath into my Christian dance movement.
Since then, there have been two main points where there has been ‘room’ for movement. The revival dance at the dance weekend and then during some enforced isolation and dancing in the kitchen – kitchen dancing is always the best!
As I have shared before. Lyrics speak to me so much. This song was one that stirred my heart and I knew I needed to make the choice to dance to it. It sums up so clearly what happens when we move and how there is God’s gentle encouragement as we do so.
Going Forward with your Christian dance movement
As you go forward from here embrace where you are at with Christian dance movement journey. There is no right or wrong way of doing it. Accept the season that you are in and move in response to that. With as much or as little movement as you need to sustain you.
But, choose to give space to God to allow him to breathe where He needs to in order to help you when you need it most.
During August 2021, UC Grace ran a Prayer Movement Challenge. It’s aim was to both show and share how simple it can be to integrate prayer and movement together. Prompting thoughtful reflection and encouraging self exploration. During the challenge each day had a focus and we used Ephesians 6.10-18 as our foundation as we explored simple ways to experience prayer and movement together.
What did each day entail?
Day 1 we focused on Ephesians 6.10-13 and looked at acknowledging how we welcome God into our prayers, start our prayers and create a habit.
Day 2 was touching on Ephesians 6.14-15 and how we identify things that we feel insecure with or struggle with.
Day 3 began to draw things together by considering Ephesians 6.16 and exploring why we struggle with the things we do and how we lean on God to be in the centre of your battle.
Day 4, through Ephesians 6.17 we know that God gives us the things we need to fight with and part of our journey is learning to accept that.
Day 5 considered perseverance. The chance to keep going, pressing in and giving it to God.
Acknowledging where in the journey you are
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6.10-13
One of the things that I have struggled with during my journey as a Christian is connecting to God more, both through his word directly, and in prayer. There can seem to be all these ‘shoulds’ as you go through your Christian walk.
You should read the Bible everyday, you should have a quiet time every day, you should soak in God’s presence, you should be praying morning and evening, you should get up early to do it all. The list goes on. And whilst each one of those things has a place in our walk as Christian, it took me a long time to realise that there are no ‘shoulds’ with God, there are only invitations and opportunities presented. We are after all made unique, that means each of our walks will be unique, there isn’t a one size fits all. Often it’s the smallest change that you make in your walk that creates the biggest impact. A change that is easily manageable day to day. For me this involved adding prayer and movement together and recognising the intention through doing this.
I asked questions such as –
How are we ready? What makes us move? How does God give you strength at the moment? Where are your priorities in your prayer life? How do you get ready to pray? Close your eyes, open your hands out, pause, breathe and drop your shoulders? They are all movements!
At UC Grace it’s not prayer and movement, but instead prayer movement, I define this as the following –
“Prayer movement is your body’s reaction to drawing closer to God. The external display of an internal feeling and preparation for a conversation. It’s nuances that only you and God know. Fleeting moments when you choose to acknowledge your connection and conversation with God. The reality of moving through life sometimes 100 miles an hour but still always doing the same thing when you choose to pray. To have that conversation and allow intention into the time of response with God.“
The first step in moving, (literally and figuratively) forward in our prayer lives is acknowledging where we are really at and recognising how God’s word can help us do that.
Prayer and Movement is an individual journey
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6.14-15
The journey that we take is all different. Some of you will be keen to apply prayer and movement together in your prayers in lots of ways. Others of you want the opportunity to see, explore and do just a little, to knock on the door.
Whichever stage you are at that’s fine. It’s your individual journey. Part of creating a habit is giving yourself space to identify what you struggle with. This isn’t something you do as a one off, it’s an ongoing process.
For me this was something that took me a while to grasp. I used to figure that because I had looked at and identified areas of struggle or insecurity once that that meant I was done and wouldn’t need to do it again.
The reality is, just like we have to continually work at keeping our focus on God. We have to continually pause and recognise what we are struggling with and act on it. God is always there to support and guide us, but if we don’t stop long enough to see that things won’t change. For me part of that process is being honest with God when I am in those insecure places. When I need to know his truths more and have the confidence to stand firm.
Exploring our journey
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Ephesians 6.16
Part of any journey we encounter with our faith is recognising and acknowledging what is part of the journey. There will be many points along the journey where we feel like we are being attacked, don’t know how to get out or just feel really down. God is with us and He will defend us.
The amazing verse is exodus describes this for us. ‘The Lord will fight for You’ you need only to be still’. In the high speed train of life we can often forget the simple actions this verse portrays. In those flight or fight moments you have a choice, to turn and move away or to pause, be still and let God work. Neither are the easy option.
But the biggest difference I have found when I am in this position is activating a pause. A physical pause right there with my body but also a mental pause. A mental pause which allows God to speak, his word to enter my mind, the Holy Spirit to take control of the situation and to receive His peace. Two things have now happened in this moment. You’ve acknowledged that you need God in the situation, and you’ve also given the space for God to be in the situation.
Accepting our journey
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6.17
For me to grow not only in my dance leadership skills but my normal leadership skills I have had to make a choice to grow in other areas of my faith. This has involved an acceptance that I need to action God’s word and look for the impact it can make in my life and others. It’s also stepping out and moving myself to God’s word and not just telling others. The armour of God that this challenge was based on is a springboard to help us to grow, to action God’s word, the scriptures and see the impact. Those moments when we need to fight the flaming arrows, God gives us the things we need – his armour, his word, his spirit. Joining prayer and movement together helps us fight this stronger.
Perseverance in what’s ahead
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6.18
Our Christian walk is full of perseverance, the need to press on and seek God. How that looks for each person. Your act of pushing through giving God a place in all areas of your life whether big or small. Will all be different.
I’ve experienced so many times, thinking that I am track and focusing on God. But when I stopped long enough. I realised that I needed help, a little direction, encouragement and joy in my journey in order to keep persevering.
The opportunity to lift it all up to God, seeing and feeling the joy as God takes control, is a feeling to strive for. It’s like you’re putting a full stop in as you let God peel it all off you. The perseverance you pick, is not to do it in your own strength but in Gods.
Going on from here
The Prayer Movement Challenge was run as a lead up to launching the mentoring programmes of UC Grace. My passion for the mentoring is to provide a safe space for people to grow in whatever area they need. That could be directly related to dance and movement or it could be about their faith, habits and life mindset. Whichever it is. It will be an adventure as they invite God into the centre of that journey. You can read more about mentoring here.
My journey to writing the challenge was a chance for me to really look at when I move, why I move and what helps me as I pray, focus, and build my conversations with God, connecting prayer and movement together. My hope above anything else was to open others eyes to the possibilities of how you can approach your prayers and deepen your faith.
If you’d like to explore this concept more why not join us for our Prayer Dance Trail course. This encourages you to encounter God outside in his creation with prayer and movement together. More info is available here.
I often get asked what I consider the most important things when as a dance ministry leader. That’s a really difficult question to answer. However, I have picked out three things that underpin leadership journey and how I lead UC Grace and what I would recommend you think about as you explore leading a dance ministry.
Don’t feel like you’re a dance ministry leader? Whilst you might feel you’re not ‘leading’ anything specific. What I share can be applied to sharing Jesus with others, leading church groups and helping family members. It’s totally up to you how you choose to apply it.
One – Connecting to the holy spirit
For me, connecting to the Holy Spirit, is the most important things as a dance ministry leader. I want the focus of the session to be about the capabilities of God, not mine. The best way to learn how to connect with the holy spirit as you lead, is to practice. To practice and to trust!
I choose to say some simple words in my head. They generally consist of ‘Father God help me’, or ‘please remind me this is about you and not me’, or even ‘this isn’t working God what should I do’. Most often, the answer is to wait, to pause!
Try it yourself
This week in your conversations or time of leading, choose to pause and put into practice welcoming the Holy Spirit into what you are doing. Does it make a difference? Please do let us know!
Two – Acknowledging your struggles
Part of being a leader is sharing your strengths and your struggles. Choosing sometimes to make yourself vulnerable. You’re just as much a human as the people you maybe sharing with, therefore struggles are normal! I often find that it’s through an experience that I have that I then want to share. It comes from a place of encouragement and allowing others to see how they could move on with something they might be struggling with.
In the spirit of sharing. One thing I have been struggling with recently and working through is comparison. Comparison that what I am doing isn’t good enough or that it’s not a proper job or I’m not qualified to do it. It was during a recent zoom call with a lady in Canada that it reared it’s ugly head again. I knew God said, stop, as soon as my mind went down that rabbit hole. Stop comparing. But on the inside all I felt was unqualified to do the role. As the call went on, God interjected and revealed that the skillset I have is different to the other person. It can’t even be compared to. It is beyond comparison as we are all unique.
That’s what we need to remember as a dance ministry leader. We are all unique. Do not compare your abilities, journey, struggles etc against anyone else. It’s just between you and God.
But the journey we have been on as leader, the stories we have can help shape someone. Therefore don’t be afraid to acknowledge your struggles not only to yourself and God, but also to those that you teach and share with.
Try it yourself
What have you struggled with recently? Is there a struggle that you can share with someone this week, that could encourage them?
Three – Being clear and consistent when a dance ministry leader
In my early days of leading I found that I was quite wishy washy with my delivery. I couldn’t articulate very well what I wanted to happen and would seek assurance from the group that I was teaching through asking them lots of questions.
This tottering or wavering most likely came down to a lack of confidence, knowledge and experience. But as I have journeyed with leadership since, a reoccurring theme is the need to be clear and consistent with the subject that I am leading in.
Many many years on and I have learnt the art and way to deliver clear instructions, demonstrations, stories and communication between attendees and myself.
Consistency allows for a regular pattern to develop where attendees can feel safe in knowing the shape that the session with take. It also means they understand boundaries and I can be accountable for what is delivered.
If I restarted again ‘clear and consistent’ would be a tag line as I planned and delivered from the beginning. This doesn’t mean everything has to be planned to letter. It means that you take the time to understand the make up of the group that you are teaching and the best way to delivery to them.
Try it yourself
How do you feel about being clear and consistent when you lead? Is there one you struggle with more than the other?
What are your key things as a dance ministry leader? God has put inside each of us unique ways for us to lead. Sometimes to understand and grow that can take time. Our Christian Dance Leadership Programme provides a safe space to develop and grow your leadership skills. Head here to find out a bit more about it.
Have you considered the possibility that you are wired by a creative God, to think and be creative?
This might sound strange and uncomfortable, if you would consider yourself as someone who doesn’t have a creative bone in their body. Are you someone who would say “I’m not creative at all”, “I can do a bit of this and that” or “Yes I am creative”?
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:28
Where do you see a creative God?
I took this picture recently at a UC Grace workshop. The sky, the birds that evening as well as my friends movement to a worship song were so awe inspiring, it caused me to stop what I was doing and take a moment to take it all in.
Our heavenly father made all of this. From darkness he made the world come into being. You and I are made with the very same hands, in this very image. We have a creator God, who made the fish, the sea, the birds and the stunning sunset and so much more. He creates on mass, with an abundant quality, God doesn’t do things by halves. God is the greatest creativity guru of all time and paints a canvas with the sky and the sea and so much more.
How does that make us creative?
So if that’s true, perhaps he has wired you and I to possess something of this life-giving creativity ourselves.
Being fruitful and multiplying means ending up with more than you started with. Perhaps God may have blessed you with an ability to dance, write, cook, be an entrepreneur, design something from scratch, build something out of wood or metal, sing, be a speaker….or perhaps you are yet to discover the gifts God has given you. But I want to say to you today, He will have given you gifts to create something. Gifts that He wants you to enjoy and develop, and also share with others.
How can I respond to knowing we have a creative God?
Consider doing some or all of the follow to help respond and explore this:
What has God has blessed you with creatively? An ability to dance, write, cook, be an entrepreneur, design something from scratch, build something out of wood or metal, sing, be a speaker….or something else?
Write out the blessings that come to mind.
Display them around your home as a reminder and encouragement of what God has given you.
Ask God to reveal a new way to share and bless others with these gifts today.
This has been written my Emma as part of our Scripture Prompt series. Scripture Prompts are weekly emails that share some different and creative ways to engage and go deeper with scripture. To find out more get in touch here
This weeks scripture prompt explores Genesis 1.1-2, looking at how we can apply various aspects to our day to day life. One particular phrase in the verses that stands out to me is ‘the spirit of God was hovering over the waters’. Even as the world began, God’s spirit hovered and was with us.
How has God got my attention?
God works in different way, and, as I have walked through a tough season the past month I have witnessed different ways that God has caught my attention and called me to listen.
The first being the sky and clouds that we walk under each day and the second recognising the presence of God’s spirit.
The outside has always been a special place for me, it’s a place that calms me and focuses my attention on what needs to be focused on.
I have found that in those moments when I am struggling with life and need refreshment, I take a step outside. The depth of my faith comes from interacting with much of the outside world . Even as I write this, I am looking out the window and focusing on the trees behind the house opposite. How the wind is moving them in the breeze. The visible display of an invisible power. The exact way that God’s spirit works, weaving it’s presence in our lives.
Above those trees are the clouds. Fluffy clouds with darkness round the edges, a glimmer of baby blue at the top and bright white and sun poking through. This image that I see is a display of God’s glory and an open invitation to recognise how God moves in my life.
Letting God’s spirit infiltrate
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1.1-2
As I’ve been reflecting on Genesis 1.1-2 and my approach to life circumstances I began writing what was on my heart and writing what God was saying. The result of this was a heartfelt poem that I can impact others and encourage them with what they might not see, feel or hear God’s spirit.
Just remember, regardless of how we may feel, God will always be there!
You’re always there – Poem written August 2021 by Anna Gilderson
Sometimes we can feel like we are stuck in a rut with the way we worship dance, sometimes feeling like we are always doing the same thing. God doesn’t think this, He loves all the movement you create. That being said, there is nothing wrong with choosing to explore and push the boundaries of our movement to deepen our conversation with God. Here are 5 simple ways that you can grow your worship dance choreography.
I love association when it comes to teaching. So rather than using boring words I’ve gone for imagery and something to visualise. The Bible and worship are full of imagery anyway so it makes sense to use it to understand and develop your worship dance choreography. So, let’s break these 5 tips down.
Painting your canvas
Painters often only have a 2D canvas to work with, but as dancers our canvas is 3D, 360 degrees, often we can forget this. The easiest way to explain this is, imagine there is a giant glass box, bigger than you and you are put within it. Your ‘performance’ space, or area to dance in, is not just in front of you. It in front, behind, to the side, up above and down below. It is everywhere. Not only are you aware that you have all this space as your canvas, but also any observers that see you will recognise a depth in your movement due to the different facings that you focus on.
Golf ball to beach ball
Size plays a massive influence on the movement that you create. Just like painting your canvas it impacts on the visual eye and the energy of the dance, as well as the story. Minute finger movements to large whole-body movements each tell a story. Think through some of the movements that you have done recently, have they all been the same size or have you varied your approach to a movement?
Sloth to leopard
Speed can be something that we are afraid of as dancers. However, it is something that creates an ebb and flow in our dance, drawing both yourself and observers into what is happening. What speed naturally dominates your movement? A consistent continuous one? Or do you find yourself picking your moments with which to be fast or slow? What your body demonstrates with speed engages the dancer and observer on the journey that you are on. Whether that’s taking the same movement and doing it at different speed, or have different movements at different speeds. Scripture poses a great opportunity use this worship dance choreography.
Cricket to fly
I am sure by now you can work out what cricket to fly might mean!! Both are creatures that move and travel about in different ways (and speeds). You’ve got the cricket that travels ground through jumping and clinging to things. Then you have the fly, who flies (!) about chopping and changing direction. Just like when you paint your canvas you change the focus and facing of your movement. Travelling and moving across your space is important. You create patterns and shapes with the movement across the floor and jumping, twirling, sliding, twisting, running and more provide a way to move across that space. Cricket to fly is a fabulous way to immerse yourself in worship dance choreography.
My last tip is about expressions, focus, quirks. The extra bits that help tell the story, express the song or reveal the meaning of God’s word. All these other bits are important in worship dance choreography to cement the journey, exploration and performance. Monkeys are great at showing up in different ways what’s needed, bringing in that extra little bit of flare.
Applying the use of these tips into worship dance choreography
Not sure how you can build out a sequence? Here are 5 applications from the worship dance choreography tips above –
Look at a piece of scripture (e.g. Psalm 36.5-7) identify different levels, changes and focuses within the verse. How can the things you’ve noticed help you to paint your canvas?
Looking at same scripture, identify the words that connect to size. How can they transpose to movement?
Take the movements you created for size and choreograph two variations of it and different speeds. What do you feel the speeds demonstrate?
In what ways can you lengthen and grow the movement sequence that you have at the moment? Go back to the scripture, what other things stand out for you? How can you add them into the sequence to show travel?
Finally, pause! Think about the worship dance choreography tips AND the scripture. What else can you add into your sequence to show what the scripture is saying. Think about the journey you are showing and the story you are creating from the scripture.
I’ve only skimmed the surface with how you can use these 5 worship dance choreography tips. If you want to know more check out the membership and mentoring options with UC Grace here.
This blog post is written by Emma Swinden, one of Scripture Prompt contributers.
During Scripture Prompts this week we explore the meaning of Matthew 14.2-4 and how we can apply it to our day to day life.
Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
How does the view of a child change things?
Is there something Jesus wants us to learn through the humble eyes of a child?
Imagine how a child might put on their wellies on a rainy day and approach a puddle? How might a child see that puddle? As something exciting to jump in and make splashes with perhaps?
My 6 year old son has a love/hate relationship with water. I am reminded of the ear-to-ear grin on my son’s faces as he charges with utter joy into puddles on rainy days. I am also reminded of how he can thrash around in the bath, resisting the hair wash.
My role as his Mum is to speak encouraging words to him, try my best to be calm when his emotions rage and even sometimes lift him out of the bath to keep him safe until he calms down. And he does calm down. We talk about how I’m trying to help him so that he doesn’t get a yucky itchy head and that his part is to surrender so it can be over with quickly. So he can return to playing with his rubber duck. It’s a team effort! Then he wraps his wet arms around, saying, “I’m sorry”, in acceptance and love.
There’s something very humble going on when a child needs help with something or when they delight in a puddle.
The childlike faith of Jesus.
Relate these two scenarios to the child-like faith Jesus asks of us when approaching Him and we may ask, how can I be more humble in God’s eyes?
Now I’m not saying that submitting to something you don’t want to do (even though it’s good for you) or getting soaked in puddles is everyone’s idea of fun. But perhaps there’s an area of your life where you can experience this kind of childlike humility. Where you let God be in charge of things and take care of you, or where you can choose to see the delightful, perhaps less obvious, adventure He has placed before you. Where you can humble yourself and relinquish control and find love, acceptance, understanding and delight? God wants us in a position where we can be His child and become the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Putting into action the meaning of Matthew 14.2-4
Thinking about some of these themes why not step out and begin to explore that in movement and prayer. You can try some of the following:
Create a movement or shape with your body which acknowledges a desire to humble yourself, in child-like trust, to God. This might include thinking about levels, the focus of your eyes and the size that your body is.
You can also consider whether there is anything you need to lay at Jesus’ feet and say sorry for today. Talk to God about this and receive His forgiveness, using words, movements or during a time of quiet.
Imagine being worried about stepping forward, not sure what experiences it would bring or how it would impact your journey. Now picture that with shield in front of you! How does that change your perspective? I want to share in the blog today 3 ways to dive deeper with the meaning of Psalm 5.12 and consider how we can apply it to our lives now.
Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favour as with a shield. Psalm 5.12
1. How does righteousness fit with the meaning of Psalm 5.12?
People will independently decide what the meaning of righteousness means for them. But in this verse it can viewed as a quality that is within God and therefore within us. It’s the depth of how you approach something morally and justifiably.
Look at your life now, do you life a righteous life? That question sounds heavy doesn’t it, but if you think of it another way. What efforts are you making to live, give and receive in the way that God would? Due to being made in God’s image, we have that righteous quality within us, as it is within God. But, because of the fall of Adam and Eve we have the choice with how we use it.
Take some time to reflect and see if there are any changes that you can make in your life so you better represent this quality that God has give you.
2. What’s the impact of choosing to put a shield on?
There are many layers to the meaning of Psalm 5.12. First there is the layer of righteousness and whether we recognise and live out that quality that God has.
The second layer is an acknowledgement of how blessing comes out of being righteous. By this I mean that if we choose to live a righteous life, we are choosing to live out that quality that God has given us. This results in us recognising those moments in our life where we see God move and give thanks. It’s a personal relationship that recognises this blessing and how it affects others. It isn’t a one time thing, but something that is part of a cycle.
Part of the meaning of Psalm 5.12 here is recognising that God’s blessing, his favour is all around us. It’s a shield that can protect us as we move forward, in safety on our own, or as a group.
Have a listen to Blessed be Your Name by Matt Redman and ask God’s favour and shield to surround you and those that you know need to be aware of that now.
3. How can you apply movement to the meaning of Psalm 5.12?
My final thoughts about the meaning of Psalm 5.12 is in relation to movement. Movement triggers memories, the memory of the movement that your muscle created which offers the association of how God can carry and protect us.
To finish there are two words from the verse that I’d like to encourage you to explore using movement.
For both words think through the images they create and other words that you might use to describe them, including your feelings. Both will have a very personal meaning to you. Do the movements long enough that your body knows them, feels them and can initiate what’s coming.
Going forward, I hope because you’ve taken the time to look at the meaning of Psalm 5.12. Next time you have the ability to associate movements to the words surrounded and shield you can remember they brought you closer to God. You can identify when you’re not being righteous and be intentional with your choice to bless and seek favour others.
If you want to read more ways to explore scripture and movement, check out these blogs.
This was blog was written as part of the Scripture Prompt series. If you wish to find out more about scripture prompts contact us.
Prayer is a personal thing, how each of us do it will reflect our character and the unique way that God made us. In many places the Bible talks about prayer, but today I want to focus on what is intercessory prayer. A phrase sometimes people frown at or misunderstand and consider that intercessory prayer is something some super holy people do. The reality? We are all intercessors! I hope to share with you today how you can be encouraged about intercessory prayer and understand what it is.
Let’s start with prayer itself.
Prayer is our ability to talk to God, to invite him into our day to day lives and express what is on our hearts. It’s recognising that you’re just having a conversation. But this conversation is with someone who not only cares about you deeply but wants the absolute best for you no matter what.
Prayer is something that is also put on a pedestal, and we are led to believe that we need to do it, say it, act it in a certain way. It took me many years to recognise that prayer is about how I live my life with Jesus, not how someone else does it. The Bible gives us the tools we need, most importantly the Lord’s Prayer, as our anchor and springboard to create our prayers. When we can grasp how simple prayer can be in our life, we can begin to understand about what intercessory prayer is.
Do you pray for others?
The dictionary describes the word ‘intercessory’ as having the function of interceding. Interceding is about acting or interposing on behalf of someone in difficulty or trouble. Think about when you pray, what do you pray for? Are praying for anyone else at all? Then you are interceding and creating an intercessory prayer!!
Ezekiel 22.30 is a great place to look at this in more detail. It says –
“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.
Ezekiel recorded these words from God. God went looking for someone to stand in the gap for sinful Jerusalem. This is a brilliant example of what we can do in our own lives. Do you need to step into the gap when someone else can’t?
I love thinking of this as an image of shields. God’s armour is there to protect and ground us. The shield may offer some protection on its own, but when it joins with others it’s a mighty force. As we step out to pray for others, we are strengthening that shield and choosing to put on God’s armour.
Stop wondering what intercessory prayer is. You are already doing it. Those times you say you’ll pray for someone; you’re stepping in and strengthening that defence. Don’t be disheartened, be encouraged that you are already an intercessor!
How can I deepen my understanding of what is intercessory prayer?
For this last bit I wanted to help demonstrate ways that you can be an intercessor when responding to scripture.
The Psalms are packed full of references to prayer. As this month we are focusing on the Psalms, I wanted to share some verses that specifically reference prayer and how they could help you be an intercessor!
Psalm 4.1 – Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
The key themes here that you can pray into someone for are – comfort to know that God is there, peace and trust that God will carry them through their distress.
Psalm 66.20 – Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!
The key themes here that you can pray into someone for are – praise that God had heard their prayers and that God’s love is bigger than they know.
Psalm 141.2 – May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.
The key themes to pray for someone here are – that the Holy Spirit will have the freedom to work in the areas that it’s needed and that the person will be thankful with how God is working.
I do hope this encourages you in your prayer life and stepping in the gap for others. Some of these blog posts might also be useful to you.
One thing I am passionate about is passing on the joy of moving and dancing with flags and ribbons to children. However, I am keen that they understand scriptural references and know that they are choosing to pick up a vehicle that can be used to talk to God, to communicate, worship and share their heart. In this blog post you’ll find 5 top tips for teaching flags and ribbons as part of Children’s worship.
How does using dance and movement with children encourage them on their walk with God?
From a wide-angle perspective dance encourages growth of self-esteem, beliefs, accomplishments and other skills. It also releases children to live their life in a way that they want too and will be of value to them. However, if you zoom in, dance and movement provide a safe space for children to learn to channel their emotions and communicate to God when words maybe difficult. Additionally, it also provides opportunity for children to learn the Bible, resulting in the ability to put movement and actions to words, helping with memory verse remembrance and themes and topics in the Bible.
Please recognise that you will have your own unique way of teaching – because God made you that way! So, what I put forward are simply suggestions, they are things that I have learnt along the way and have found helpful when teaching children’s worship in particular.
Here are my top 5 tips for teaching flags and ribbons for children’s worship specifically:
1. Have clear intentions and boundaries
Boundaries – However
well you know the children you will need clear boundaries in place. These
include things like, the flag stays rolled whilst you’re teaching or talking. You
put your hand up and count back from 5 when you want the children to be still. They
sit down or put their flag down when you’re talking. You make it clear what
happens if they continually don’t listen. They understand their dance space and
where they can go when they move.
Intentions – This is about letting parents and children know what they are going to be doing during the session. Depending on the context of your workshop or class, this is important. Although it might seem obvious, you will need to say they will be worshipping, praying, reading the Bible and dancing for Jesus. If it’s not a ‘normal’ event i.e. church, Sunday school etc. But more like a youth club, holiday club, you may have some unchurched children there (awesome), we just need to still be respectful of their back ground.
2. The more help you have the better
No brainer with children! When ever you think you have enough you don’t! Regardless of how well behaved you think your children are, they will use a flag as a sword or poke someone on purpose. It’s new and exciting. So it’s best to accept it will happen rather than consider it won’t!
Due to this, extra hands are your best friend as they can help police what the children are doing with the resources. Helpers are also useful when you are teaching, they can dot them selves amongst the children. So, even if the children can’t see you, they can watch a helper (provided you’ve primed the helpers with what you are doing!). Should you split into group work, helpers can assist those groups and children that might be finding the task hard.
3. Restrict numbers for some children’s worship workshops
It sounds quite harsh doesn’t it? But honestly, when you are teaching flags and ribbons you don’t want a packed hall. Not only will you have to fight above the noise to capture attention and teach safely. But the children won’t be able to enjoy the full effect of moving and dancing with a flag or ribbon if they don’t have the space within which to do it.
If you do have to do a big group, my suggestion would be to split the group in two when ever it comes to actively moving as a smaller group can access the space more effectively.
Therefore, when planning your numbers think in realistic terms about how many bodies you can get in your space to effectively delivery an excellent children’s worship workshop.
4. Demonstrate, teach, practise, repeat in chunks
Chunking is something that I will talk about in another
post. But essentially break down what ever you want to teach them into small
sections and then do this:
Demonstrate – the
children WATCH you do the movements
Teach – you TALK
through and DO the movements with them
Practise – you go
over what you have just done – with a partner or another helper
constantly go back and re do what you have just done.
All children learn differently, all children learn at different paces. Doing it as above, will allow children who learn differently to still be able to access what you are doing.
5. Pick one song and memory verse they know.
With children, less is more. Don’t over plan. Pick something simple, that will allow them to be TAUGHT something and then allow them to CREATE something. That’s primarily why children love to dance and move with flags and ribbons. There is a freedom they don’t get in other activities.
Children also love to realise that they know the answers already. So, whatever song or scripture you pick try to ensure that it’s already used as part of the children’s worship in the groups or at school. Familiarity encourages children to bloom and will help breed confidence. If you’re asking questions about topics or themes they may already know this will do just that.
Let me know how you get on with any children’s worship workshops.
There will be more hints and tips on teaching children and why we should invest in them. So, make sure you check back regularly.
If you’ve got a heart to teach children but don’t feel you have the skills and confidence to move with flags and ribbons yourself, why not get in touch about running a training day at your church. You can get in touch with me here.