So I was thinking about the story of Elijah. The time when he went up against 450 prophets of Baal to prove who's God was real.
The deal was that they would both build an altar to God and prepare a Bull to be sacrificed on it. And then they would pray for their God to set it alight. 'The God who answers by fire - He is God.' It was a pretty risky move. If it didn't work out then it would have been the end for Elijah, and a whole nation would have carried on worshipping a false God. Elijah's cool.
So anyway, the prophets of Baal went first. It says they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon, dancing around the altar they'd made. And there was no answer. They shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears until their blood flowed. And continued frantically prophesying until the evening. But there was no answer.
So Elijah's turn came. He rebuilt the altar (which the prophets of Baal had torn down) and just to make sure there was no doubt. He drenched it with water to the extent the trench he'd dug around it was filled with water. Um... wait a minute. Elijah?! What are you doing?!
And then Elijah prayed. No show. No song and dance. No blood. No frantic prophesying. Just a simple prayer. "Lord, let it be known today, that You are God... answer me, so these people will know that you Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again."
And the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and soil, and even the trench filled with water. Phew.
Sometimes when we lead worship we feel like we have to make something happen. It's as if we have to conjure up the Spirit of God. We have to do it in our own strength. If we don't put on a great song and dance, or sing the right songs in the right order. Or if we don't work ourselves up into a fervour and sing the latest worship hit with loops and lights and big production then God won't come. Or if we don't say the magic words... then God won't come. There's this pressure to do all this stuff, to look and sound like so and so. But it's not true.
Elijah knew God would respond because he had real relationship with him. He knew Him like a friend. He knew God was real. Like really truly actually real!
There's nothing wrong with great songs or skillfully planned worship sets. In fact there's a lot right about us working hard to get it right. But we just need to know we can't do it in our own strength and we don't need all that stuff to worship. What are we trying to do? Who are we doing it for? Who are we trying to be? Ephesians 3v12 says 'In him (Jesus) and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.' God wants to turn our hearts towards Him. He wants relationship with us. He wants us to know that He loves us. God responded not because of any song or dance, but because of Elijah's simple prayer.
So just know this. God will come. He loves you. He listens to your prayer, He loves your worship, and He is with you.