Scripture Prompt – The meaning of Matthew 14.2-4

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.

Matthew 18.2-4
Child exploring puddles

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. 

Being child like jumping in puddle for Meaning of Matthew 14.2-4.

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.

You can explore more about scripture and movement by reading another Scripture Prompt blog – The meaning of Psalm 5.12. You can also check out our Deeper Scripture membership.

Splashing in puddles

Jesus for Kids – 5 Top tips for Teaching Flags and ribbons for Children’s Worship

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.

Indoor group during children's worship using flags.
Moving Rainbows | Guildford

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.

Children outdoor dancing with flags.
St Albans Holiday Club

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.

There is too much to say all in this post, so make sure you check out my post about What the Bible says about Flags and Banners to help with any background information you may want to know.

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.

Children's worship with flags.
Mothering Sunday | Emmanuel Church Guildford

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

Repeat – 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.

Children's sitting down listening to teacher explain scripture.
Family Advent Fun

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.

These blog posts might also be useful for you –

If you want to be the first to heat about any teaching children’s worship resources I create. Head here and sign up.

Children's worship pictures, holding flags and ribbons in different workshops.

Dance Ministry – Creating a prayer dance trail

I’m excited to bring this ‘how to’ blog to you today. Many of you will be familiar with prayer walking. Choosing to go out in a specific area to pray for things as you pass different locations. Whether that is to do with the location directly or to offer a springboard for prayers on other topics. I’ve been sharing a lot recently about how prayer dance can impact our prayer journey. So today I want to share with you how creating a prayer dance trail can help build another way to journey your prayers and conversations with God. I will offer a simple outline that you can apply to different topics and situations as you wanted, giving you limitless possibility to move your prayers outside.

I highly recommend a notebook as you work through this, so you can write down any bits that you need to. However lots can be gained from doing this spontaneously as well.

Resting in an outside space praying.

Step one – Discover what you want to pray for.

Praying with a purpose gives you a greater focus and will help with creating a prayer dance trail that fits with what’s on your heart at the moment. Use the following things as an impetus to begin to note down things that you want to pray through.

  • Person
  • Circumstances
  • Emotion
  • Place

Whatever you pick, this is known as the topic. Write down everything about that topic you have picked. Think about all aspects of it and any impacts that there are.

Step two – Creating a prayer dance trail route.

Begin by choosing 4 areas or stops within walking distance from your home or at a location you visit frequently. Or simply an area that you love! Assign one of the following themes to each of the areas –

  • Head and Heart
  • Relationships
  • Pause and rest
  • Encouragement

Learn the order that the topics appear on your route. Each of these 4 areas, with their relevant theme assigned will act as stopping points along your route. At each of these stopping points you will focus on the relevant theme and how you can pray into it with the topic you picked at the beginning.

Creating a prayer dance trail what the journey could look like.

Step three – Begin to create some movement.

Now start to look at all the things that you have written for your topic. Find one word (or a phrase if you need to) that could sum it up. This is to be known as your capital letter and full stop and will be the foundation blocks for creating a prayer dance trail.

Once you have identified your word, you need to create a simple and short movement that you can do for it. This movement will be used at the beginning and end of your time in each area that you stop at along your route. This is why I have called it a capital letter and full stop! You could also think of is as the bread in a sandwich!

I find having a simple movement such as this helps you to frame each section and provide you with focus, both as you begin and as you end.

You then have the choice to leave the space between the capital letter and full stop at each location empty. Then to fill it with spontaneous movement each time. Or to think about each theme and location and some movements that might work best to that theme.

The biggest thing to remember is providing God with the space to move, speak to you and respond to your movement. After all whatever it is that you are praying about is important, so you want to know what God might have to say about it!

Dancing with a pink ribbon outside

Step four – Prayer dancing the trail.

Before you step out and begin your trail. Pause and ask God to lead you. You have spent time laying the foundations creating a prayer dance trail layout. Now, how your trail works is really up to you. Here are some suggestions about how you could approach working your way through the trail:

  • Use music to inspire you as you walk.
  • Allow God’s silence to fill the space you walk.
  • Move to a specific scripture at each stop.
  • Move to the same scripture at each stop thinking about how the theme assigned to that location impacts it.
  • Take ribbons, material, flags or something else to inspire you along the way.

God can speak through whichever way you do it. There is no right or wrong. My prayer is that these instructions will offer up a chance for you to explore and see what works best for you.

Praying against the ruins of Waverley Abbey.

Step 5 – The challenge

Often, we forget that praying for something can take patience, perseverance and consistency. Now you’ve taken the time creating a prayer dance trail. The challenge would be completing it consistently over the course of the month with the same topic, locations, and themes. See how God moves and what he says.

Over the space of a month work your way through the trail as often as you can. Sometimes it might be that you feel only part of the trail needs completing but respond to what God is saying to you each time. Refer to all that you wrote down about the topic at the beginning.

Some other things to consider when creating a prayer dance trail.

Doing it with others – creating a prayer dance trail with others can be even more fun than doing it on your own. You have the chance to be unified in what you are praying and support each other as you do it. This could be through you all prayer dancing to the same topic or you each have your own topic but you work your way through the same route together.

Do the trail at different times of day – we all know that we can be more tuned in to God at certain times of day. Why not see whether different times of day affect how you approach the trail and how God speaks.

Other influences – such as music, weather, scenery or scripture that could inspire you as you pray and move.

In May 2021 we will be running a prayer dance trail for you to join in with. Keep an eye on the Events page for further information. If you want to know more about prayer dancing read this beginners blog – Encountering God through prayer and movement.

Would you like to be part of the UC Grace journey? Then head here to sign up and be kept in the loop with what we are doing.

Closer to God – 3 ways to explore how God loves us through 1 John 3.1

During prayer dance bites last night we entered into a great conversation about whether we truly recognised that God lavishes his love on us. I just want to take a few moments today to share 3 insights that came out of our discussions. We looked particularly at the scripture reference 1 John 3.1:

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

There is so much depth in this verse and so much that we can learn, apply and trust God with. In the whirlwind of life, how deep God loves us often gets lost. Take a moment and think about what the word Lavish could mean, and what it means to you.

God loves us so much it invades it.

God’s love is like an invasion.

How do you like to feel love? Or how do you show love to others? We have a generous God that continually pours out his love to sustain us. But God knows the way to love us that speaks to us the most. If you’ve not heard about the love languages, they are certainly worth looking up (see link at the end). The Love Languages identify the way that you receive love best, this can help you in your various relationships. God loves us in such a way that He doesn’t have to think about how to give us love, He knows. Often we have the decision about whether we choose to receive that love.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us.

Consider the image of an invasion happening, when a winning side arrive on the scene to complete the invasion, they consume the area they are aiming for. They take it over completely. That’s the love God has for us. A love that overwhelms, releases the floodgates and crashes into us. God loves us with such a depth it’s overpowering.

There is no argument, God loves us.

This sense of overpowerment causes us to pause and recognise that we are called children of God. Children have an innocence and need to know they are loved, to feel compassion. As God calls us his children, he makes a clear statement that brings no argument.

…that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

Think of it like this – God loves us, lavishes on us, because we are children of God. As children of God we need to receive that with an open heart that enables us to stand firm with all God has for us.

We need to brace for impact.

Is your heart really open to all that God has for you? Are you ready to receive it? Chris Tomlins song Impact has a line in it that says:

Brace for the impact

The first time I heard it I did a double take. Why do we need to brace? What are bracing for? As we talked during prayer dance bites it dawned on us all. That how much God loves us is an overwhelming, tidal wave surging, storm crashing impact. By that I mean if we truly receive the words of this verse. Recognising that God loves us lavishly as we are his children, love will invade us with such force that we need to brace for the impact because it will be all consuming.

How can we respond to this?

If you’re a mover and dancer you can explore how God loves us by dancing to the song Impact by Chris Tomlin. Think about these 3 words –

  • Invade
  • Firm
  • Impact

What can these look like in movement? How do these words make you feel when you think about the depth that God loves us?

This video highlights what was shared during our Prayer Dance Bite session as well as some further thoughts and movement from me.

Further information

You can find out about the Five Love Languages here.

Not sure what Prayer Dance Bites is but would like to know more? Head here. Would you like to be part of the UC Grace journey? Then head here to sign up and be kept in the loop with what we are doing.

Lets brace for the impact of Gods love.

Intercessory Prayer – When prayer becomes a habit

As I was thinking through how to share about today’s topic, I was aware that we all come from varying backgrounds. We have all learnt or been taught in different ways, and various aspects about prayer will speak differently to each person. We all love Jesus, which in turn means we love His word. In His word it tells us simply how we should pray. It is our human nature that stops us from doing it so simply! During this blog post I want to encourage you with how you are already experiencing prayer. But if you feel like you are stuck in a rut hopefully these thoughts will help you to realise how prayer becomes a habit in a way that’s unique to you!

A quiet prayer space.

Let’s begin by looking straight at Gods word –

“This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,’”

Matthew 6.9

One very restless night this week when my mind wouldn’t settle and I just couldn’t get to sleep I started to think about this verse. Particularly the phrase ‘Our Father’.  What a clear statement it makes before leading into the Lords prayer, about how we should be ready. It’s doesn’t say that for prayer to become a habit you need to gather this, do this, say this etc. It simply says ‘Our Father’. Or, come Father come. This was the bit that sat in my head that night I wasn’t sleeping. When I was asking God, how do I share about when prayer becomes a habit. Is prayer a habit of mine? The answer was ‘yes, because you welcome me.’

Heart shape on floor with ribbons. Person praying.

Say His Name

Think about those times when you’ve needed your mother, father, or someone else close to you. What have you done to speak to them? You’ve called them by name and then shared with them what you wanted to.

Prayer isn’t some fancy thing that has to be done in a specific way. It’s a normal way of creating a conversation with someone, that someone just happens to be God. You don’t have to put a wall in between, remember the veil was torn down so now we can just talk to God. Our conversations allow us the opportunity for us to give our time to him. But often we have this preconceived idea that prayer has to be set up in a specific way for us to access it.

The reality is just about saying.

Our father.

Our father we welcome you into what’s happening right now.

Our father please help me right now.

Our father I give you praise for everything that has happened today, thank you.

Whilst it might seem a dramatic thing and a really hard thing to say that you can create habit from prayer. But if think of all the things that you do without thinking they are habits. Think about when you recall lyrics from worship songs, when you recall scripture, when you recall conversations with friends. They’re all things that have imprinted on your memory. Then just remember how you go about your life and you share your faith. That is a habit, it might not be a habit like we think habits are. But actually when prayer becomes a habit, it’s the ability for it to be a natural part of your day to day life. It’s the natural conversation between you and God it’s the chance just to say hello and welcome God into what’s happening.

The River of Peace. Blue material along floor inviting you to rest and pray.

So my biggest thing that I wanted to share with you about when prayer becomes a habit is…

When prayer becomes a habit you feel at peace. Peace because it isn’t something that you’re striving to do that’s unnatural, it’s something that’s natural to you so it doesn’t have to be set aside at specific times in the day. There’s a place for that don’t get me wrong, but actually the ability for prayer to become a habit involves us having the openness to allow God into every part of our lives. To share that throughout the day acknowledging him in those things as we go.

Not convinced that prayer is a habit for you? Try saying ‘Our Father’, or ‘Come, Father Come’, as you go about your day-to-day activities. Or when you hit those hard points in the day. You don’t have to say anything more. Just those two or three words!

These other posts might prove useful exploring prayer and everyday life:

Don’t forget you can also join the mailing list here ?

when prayer becomes a habit pinterest picture.

Jesus for kids – Toddle Tales share about Bible stories for children

This week we meet the lovely Lauren from Toddle Tales. Lauren shares a bit about herself, what Toddle Tales is and why it’s passionate about sharing Bible stories for children.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hello, I’m Lauren, and I am a married mum, with two gorgeous boys, who are 6 and 2. I used to teach music before I had the boys and I love dancing, singing and watching series on Netflix!

What is Toddle Tales?

Toddle Tales is the re-telling of Bible Stories for children, particularly the under 5s. Although, since lockdown ages up to 10 years old have also been enjoying it! All stories are made up of narrative and songs. This helps reinforce the story and these songs are written to the tunes of nursery rhymes. Before lockdown I did live sessions which were very interactive. The children got a chance to join in with the songs with either dressing up, performing actions or holding puppets. Since lockdown I have ventured into producing videos. Which have been reaching lots of different ages groups and I know have been very useful for parents when they want their children to engage with something Biblical on a Sunday.

How important is the Christian faith with Toddle Tales?

The Christian faith is important to Toddle Tales, because that is what drove me to create it in the first place. It was when I was working for a company called Molly Moo Cow, going into nurseries and singing and telling stories. God gave me the idea to do this for Bible stories.

Using the skills that God has given me, I have created another way of telling the Bible to children, in a way that is accessible. It is early days for Toddle Tales, and I have no idea what the future holds…but that is what faith is, trusting without knowing what will happen.

Lauren teaching Bible stories for children using Mary and Joseph.

Why is it so invested is it so invested in teaching Bible stories for children?

Toddle Tales is invested in children because as Whitney Houston put it “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way” (Yes, I love a bit of Whitney). But of course, before Whitney sung this, the Bible teaches us to

“Train them up, in the way they should go.” Proverbs 22.6

Toddle Tales is just another way of teaching the Bible to young children, in the hope to engage them from a young age and plant seeds in their heart.

Can you share 3 tips to encourage parents in their conversation or teaching with their children about God?

OK so I sometimes struggle with this one myself(!) What I do try to do is best described with three words – pray, dance, and joy!

Pray

Actively choose to pray with them before they go to bed. Currently its just me who leads prayers as my eldest son struggles a bit. We thank God for the day and ask for a good night’s sleep with no bad dreams and that we would have a good day tomorrow. I feel it’s important to identify the things we are thankful for as well as look ahead to what is to come. Often, it’s very short to keep their concentration. But it’s still demonstrating to them how we can have a conversation with God regularly.

Dance

We do a lot of dancing, so I put on worship music and let the words of the song permeate into their souls. Waymaker is a firm favourite at the moment, but often we will find a compilation on Spotify and see what comes up. Adding in songs that they want to as they go. I try to give them a sense that all music works with movement and talk about them having a dancing spirit and how God loves it when they dance!

Finding the joy!

My older son gets very cross and his personality gets him stuck in the “it’s not fair” thoughts and attitudes. So, I have recently tried a new tactic of singing “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart song” Yeah, you know the one I mean, it gets stuck in your head!! But I have found that cuts through his mood. He tries not to smile, but I can see it helps him to break free. He even started singing it the other day in CO-OP (really loudly haha). I suppose what I try to do is rather than drum into them about God. I bring God into our every day, through creative means, as we all know that children learn best through creativity.

Energetic Lauren sharing Bible Stories.

Finally, Lauren, what is the thing you love most about Toddle Tales?

The thing I most love about Toddle Tales is creating the stories and performing them. Since lockdown I have also ventured into producing videos, which I have also loved doing and the feedback I have got from them, has also been worth it too.

– –

So great to hear about Toddle Tales and some of Lauren’s heart. If you want to know more about Toddle tales you can follow them on Facebook here and check out some of their videos on YouTube here.

If you’d like to read more about sharing with children, check out this blog post here from Prinith’s experience teaching children worship dance.

Pinterest graphic Toddle tales sharing Bible stories for children.

Dance Ministry – 3 ways to explore worship dance choreography with Philippians 3.14

One thing I love doing in my week now is Prayer Dance Bites. It gives me structure, takes me into Gods word and keeps me moving. Recently we looked at Philippians 3.14 and how this could be a prayer in our life regularly. I want to share with you 3 ways using worship dance choreography that we went deeper into the verse.

“When we’re discouraged, we work against our faith.”

Rick Warren

What I wanted people to grasp during this session was how, God is always there. How we strive to get there, where our focus is and what we expect at the end. Is down to how we choose to press on with our faith.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3.14

Looking at a verse and transposing it into movement can be daunting but here are 3 worship dance choreography tips that can help you.

Start worship dance choreography by creating an action movement

Every verse in the Bible will have some form of descriptive, emotive or factual words in it. Look at the words and pick out those that stand out to you. For this Philippians verse I picked out ‘press on’, ‘prize’ and ‘heavenward’.

Using one of the words consider what that word looks like visually.

What does pressing on look like for you? Do your emotions and habits play a part in how you move forward, break through situations and get closer to God? Think about 3 -4 movements that you could create and connect together to demonstrate ‘pressing on’.

This is really simple way to begin looking at scripture and moving to it. Once you’ve picked your movements, it’s good to go over them several times. They start to sink in, become a habit and a prayer as you search the verse deeper.

Pressing on and forward in movement and worship dance chorgeography.

Think about your eyeline and focus

Philippians 3.14 in the NIV uses the word goal, as what you are pressing on towards. Goal can seem quite a sharp word, alternative words used instead of goal could be invitation or purpose.

Considering other words can help you see the verse from a different perspective and see where the focus is. I would always recommend looking up different versions and seeing what words are used there.

In worship dance choreography to move on from your set of pressing on movements, ponder where your eyes were as you did each of the movements.

We can’t move forward it we’re not looking where we are going, if we don’t acknowledge the pathway that there is in front of us. Add into your movements deliberate choices about your eyeline and what you are focusing on.

Does changing your focus change how your movements feel?

Raised arms and flags, eyes on the Jesus as King.

Imagination in worship dance choreography

A final way to explore worship dance choreography for any verse is using your imagination and seeking Jesus! Choosing to put Jesus within and at the end of your movement prayer. By saying Jesus is within and calling you through your movements, how does that make you feel? Hope? Joy? Excitement? Relief?

If your movement is building up to that how does it change?

With Philippians 3.14, think about these other questions too. What other word could be used instead of prize? If Jesus was at the end of your movements what would you do?

Leaning on each other and encouraging on the journey.

Imagine you in the journey of the verse…

You are pressing through that which gets in your way, breaking down walls. You’re pressing on because you have been invited to receive what God is offering – that is where your focus is. As you receive what God gives you, he is right there with you.

Want to know more about prayer dance bites you can head here. There is also the blog post How can I start to Prayer Dance? Which is a good starting place if you are new moving.

pinterest graphic. eyes on the king during worship dance choreography.

Types of worship – Three things that can impact dance to worship

The interaction of worship is different for each person. Everyone’s understanding of drawing closer to God in worship will be different. Part of this is recognising the types of worship that people connect with are individual to that person. I want to share 3 things that have impacted me using dance to worship.

It’s all in the MOMENT. God gives each of us ‘moments’ in our lives. Moments to be ‘in’ and respond to.

How did it start?

I am often asked how I started to use dance in worship. The simple answer is, as a child I had the freedom to copy someone else and was encouraged to grow and explore with movement. Adults are such role models to children – watching and doing provided a way for me to draw closer to God – my faith grew beneath the surface.

Think about a seed and its roots, often we wait a long time for the seed to sprout. Underneath the surface things must happen first. Roots are crucial to the seed for it be anchored in the soil, they also help to obtain the right nutrients and conditions for the seed to flourish. For many years roots were anchoring within me, ready to give me the nudge when I needed it.

From an early age I realised that people connected with worship in different ways – through singing, playing an instrument, writing poetry, doing art, moving their body and much more. Some people assume that worship is just singing in church, it is so much more. Everyone has the chance to explore types of worship that suit them.

Two worship dancers holding hands exploring types of worship.

What is dance to me?

Dance for me is a way to connect, engage, share and journey with people in their faith, a stepping stone to something deeper. God always amazes me with the way he shows up and ministers to people during workshops and dance days. He cannot be put in a box and you have to be willing to expect the unexpected.

Using dance to engage with one’s faith is about putting an action to a thought, feeling or word. Allowing God to move through you and speak to you through that. It is the language I use to deepen my conversation with God, respond to the Holy Spirit and reveal Jesus to others.

Therefore, for me, dance and faith are one. I feel Jesus, experience him, and get carried on the wind by him.

So how can fusing dance and faith together act as one of the types of worship?

Fusing dance and faith together ignites a passion, brings a purpose to your faith and a freedom to the journey you have with God.

Passion…

Can be such a big word and mean so many things, but when you worship you are choosing to share in something that is powerful and special to you. I have this phrase ‘Passion in a Suitcase’. For quite a while my circumstances meant I had to move around with where I lived and the things that I did. Each time my passion was not lost but put into a suitcase. How I unpacked it when I arrived at my new destination always depended on God.

Our passion can be used in different ways, it is the ignition to what will come after which often provides the act of choosing to bring out something that is within. Dance and movement offer that opportunity and an interaction to explore how dance can bring passion to types of worship.

Purpose

Is choosing to put use dance to communicate with God using the solid foundation that comes from the Bible. Just as our faith needs to be rooted in the Word, so does our movement.

The Armour of God is an amazing symbol of the ‘equipment’ that God gives us to worship and follow him. By choosing to raise our arms whilst singing in praise and worship, kneel in response to the words of a song or bow our heads to pray. We are making movement and putting purpose into our journey.

Dance in worship need not be flamboyant or to a professional standard. Instead it is strong and contagious and part of our everyday actions. Just like worship is part of our day when we praise Him for the glorious skies, thank Him for our safe journeys, cry out to Him in pain. We are all already dancers in our own right. God created us to move (Acts 17) and we all move in our own individual way.

Using the word ‘dancer’ might be too strong for some of you. So instead consider a phrase my husband likes to use ‘I don’t dance, I move well’. For him having the association of being a dancer is too strong. But he will happily say that he moves well and enjoys doing so when he does. Perhaps for you, this is the preferred way of looking at it; moving well and moving with God.

Single lady worshipping with a yellow and blue ribbon.

Freedom…

God gives us freedom to demonstrate our journey how we need to. He also gives us the Holy Spirit, to enable us to grasp a deeper understanding of walking with Jesus. Faith and dance stimulate a different perspective on your relationship with God. Offering a safe way to explore other types of worship.

A simple exercise you can try is to think about ‘passing on the fire inside’. Think about a ball of light that is inside you wanting to grow, a tiny little flame. Flames are not always big to start with, they grow. As you imagine this flame glowing and growing inside you, how does it encourage you to start moving your body in reaction to this?

The Holy Spirit is always inside us, sometimes it is a still small flame, other times a raging fire, but we’ve got to be willing to let the fire grow and move in our lives as God would want it.

Group of dancers using ribbons in worship.

I want to leave you with a testimony from a dance day. It’s from a gentleman who is musical and plays in a worship band, who bravely came on the dance day having done no moving before. He had been feeling for a while that he wanted to move and do something much more in worship…

“It was very moving to dance as I wanted to worship music, meeting with God, moving my body freely for the first time without fear of judgement. Like strolling in long grass beside a river with God. It made me cry as I felt free to use my body to bring glory and praise to God for the first time.’

If you’d like to understand more about how worship dance can impact your life have a read through 1000 Reasons to dance for the King. There also opportunities to engage in our events, head over to our events page.

Don’t forget you can also join the mailing list here ?

Closer to God – How can I start to Prayer Dance?

Our heart within UC Grace has always been to encourage, grow and release those it connected with. How it has done that over the past 10 years has evolved alongside the people that have joined our journey. But a feature in many of our weekends and events is prayer dance.

Put simply, prayer dance is just dancing your prayers without the need for words, letting movement tell the story instead. Sometimes this can be influenced with music, other times music isn’t necessary to capture and share what God is speaking through the movement.

This can take you completely out of your comfort zone. But in this post I will walk you through a few ways that you can get into a rhythm of trying this. These suggestions can used for any type of prayer you need to make – personal, corporate, family, friend etc

Prayer dance being explore within a group.

Write it, learn it, dance it

Think about one thing that you would like to pray for currently. Write it down into a simple written prayer. It’s important to use key words that describe what the issue is, any emotions involved, and any encouraging words. Don’t make it complicated.

Next take the time to learn that prayer off by heart, to begin ingraining it so you anticipate what is coming next. When you speak, you naturally emphasise certain words, start to recognise the words that you are emphasising. These are your movement starting points.

Begin to put specific movements to the words that stand out to you in your prayer and practice them one after the other.

You now have a prayer dance! You have the choice to speak the words out loud and move the prayer at the same time or simply move it. Often our prayers are repeated, you now have a prayer dance that you can repeat. Then expand and alter as time moves on.

Let a song be your prayer dance

Words in songs can be very powerful, often you might find yourself either picking up on one or two key phrases or become enveloped in the song completely. Worship songs bring a different layer to our prayers. Many are written as heartfelt prayers, words directly from scriptures or specific words from God. This can be a natural way dance your prayer.

Autumn has set in around me, which meant that this morning was one of those lovely sunny autumn mornings. Brilliant sunshine, bright blue skies with some clouds, and a cooler temperature. A day that prompted recognising the things that we can be thankful for.

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

Psalm 95.1

As I sat and listened the song ‘This is the day’ by Pat Barrett, I couldn’t help but want to express the words as a prayer. For me, the song speaks so much movement, that speaking it or singing it, wasn’t changing the atmosphere as much as when I chose to move to it.

Think about some of the songs that you love, what parts of them are your prayer right now. Take some time to respond to those words, and, just like I mentioned above, learn it. Then in those moments when you need to remember that prayer you can simply move it – without the need for music.

Here is how I responded to the song This is the day, as my prayer dance.

Would you like to find out more?

If you’d love to explore more ways of exploring prayer dance, also read this on the blog. Plus, here are a few things that can help you.

40 Day Dance and Movement Devotional

Soak at Home

Prayer Dance Bites

Scripture prompts

Prayer dance pinterest graphic

Closer to God – Deepen your relationship with God in 3 ways with Psalm 100

Expanding our relationship with God can be done in so many ways. I want to take just a moment to reflect on Psalm 100 and 3 simple ways to grow that relationship with God. Through joy, knowing God and thanksgiving. Find a quiet space with a pen and paper and see what God says to you.

Shout for joy to the Lord

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. (Psalm 100. 1-2)

Does joy elude you sometimes, do you find it hard to have, discover, receive? Joy is central to how God has made us. He wants us to shout about Him all round the earth, to worship him with gladness.

Joy enables us to experience what God feels about us, to build our relationship to God and worship with our whole being. It allows an overflow of what we feel inside to be demonstrated on the outside. There is joy in our every day, but we must make the effort to find it.

So how can you shout for Joy to the Lord? Notice when you smile! Simples as the meerkat would say! Our hectic world means that we are often haring about from one thing to another and don’t pause, don’t pick up when you’ve made a smile, giggled or jumped!

A simple change to find that joy to shout out about, is to pause and make note! Whether that is a physical note in a diary, a photo or simply just actually acknowledging that thing that brought you some joy!

We can only come before God with joyful songs if we have made the effort to find our joyful songs and moments in life!

Waving flags in an outside park.

Know you relationship with God

Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. (Psalm 100.3)

In Psalm 139 and Jeremiah 29, we hear how God has made us all individual, that every bit of our plans, he has already written and will come to pass. We are His because He made us. In those moments when it might be hard to find joy, know that God is with you. That he will carry you, he will care for you, and that he will support you.

God loves the analogy of the sheep, he uses them to help us foster our relationship with God. Sheep willingly follow where others go, as God draws us into his pasture, may we lean on him, may we know him, and recognise that we are his people.

And that in spite of everything else is going on around us God is our God and as we seek to bring joy, gladness and worship into our lives, may we just trust God more, may we put our hearts on the line. Seeking the pasture and whatever it brings.

What are the reasons you personally know the Lord is God? Why not make a note  stick them somewhere visible.

at the cross contemplating their relationship with God.
Reading Gods to build a relationship with God.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100.4-5)

The final section in Psalm 100 encourages us to keep going with our praises. A joyful or thankful day shouldn’t be just once! It should be on going, and earnestly sought. God puts laughter, exploration and fun in our soul. He delights in seeing us exploring Him, growing closer to Him and having fun doing so.

God’s faithfulness will always shine through even in those times when praising and thanking is hard, God will still stand beside you.

How often do you thank God in your day? Why don’t you commit to acknowledging 5 things you are thankful for at the end of each day? You could do this as a family, in a journal, as a doodle, a dance and movement, sing it, or any other creative way that you feel suits you as an individual.

Lets just celebrate and wave our arms
Having thanksgiving conversations with friends.

I want to leave you with a fun video, that encapsulates a moment of joy on one of the UC Grace weekends away. If you want to see more from our dance weekends head to the gallery here. If you have a desire to go deeper with scripture and dance and movement, then check out our Prayer Dance Bites here.

Pinterest graphic. Ladies reading the bible to deepen relationship with God.