Harps and Bowls

Singing and praying have always gone hand in hand, but usually not at the exact same time. I remember the first time I heard a person sing in the spirit. It was not in a different language, it was in my own language, but it almost took my breath away. I will never forget as the whole congregation soaked in the song about the power and majesty of the Lord, sung by a person who had never sung a special or played an instrument.

It was a New Song:

We were not even listening to the voice, but rather the spirit and the sense of spiritual depth in their words. I have since learned that singing in the spirit, is simply about allowing our spirit to sing, regardless of our prayer life, prayer language or prayer history. The sound of the New Song is not about wrapping your mind around a language at all, but releasing a flow of sound and thoughts from the Heavenly Realms. Its a mingling of our knowledge of God, our sense of His timing at the moment and a desperate leaning that is allowed to come from inside of our hearts through song. It takes little or no thought of the others in the room, because it has its focus on God’s intent.

 ”Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood. Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,  and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” (Rev 5:8-10)

It Carries a Unique Sound:

Notice these 4 living creatures and the 24 Elders. Each have two things, a harp and a bowl. The harp is a symbol of praise and the bowl is a symbol of prayer. Then a very unusual phrase enters the text. It says, “They sang a new song…” a unique sound came forth, individual and yet in harmony with one another and with the moment.

Harps and bowls are unique emblems that are designed to merge into a unique sound. In this passage, they are not just about praise and worship and praying, they are about a unity of sound and focused expression. It was about singing their prayer to the Lord from their heart of hearts, their spirit.

This “New Song”; God describes in Scripture (Ps 33:2-3), is more than just a series of musical notes or a skillful use of instruments. The songs that others have written, perfected and arranged are wonderful, but God seems to lean into the sound from our heart. He is interested in something fresh, new, spontaneous and winsome. Our spirit has a love language that only we can release to God. It can be motivated and anointed by the Holy Spirit, yet it will always be our own unique sound.

To A Unique Person:

In the passage above there is a scroll in the right hand of God the Father. No one is worthy to take it and open it. John; the Beloved Apostle, begins to weep. Immediately one of the Elders gets up off his throne and says to John, “Do not weep, there is One who is worthy.”

Jesus steps up and takes the scroll and there you have it. The essential focus of the moment was the Lamb who was worthy, because He had redeemed all who were there by His own blood. Jesus is the unique person, worthy to open the scroll. Its all about Him!

An Appropriate Sound: 

How is this possible? How can this many different people sing a new song spontaneously? This is where we begin to understand the harps and bowls ministry to the Lord. God loves music, but He is looking for music that is appropriate in its context. In the above moment, where the Worthy Lamb of God is stepping forward to receive the scroll and open it for all the world to see… the sound needs to be appropriate. It needs to fit the season and occasion.

The Ministry of the Heart:

Its a unique and appropriate sound, because it is the ministry of the heart not the intellectual perception of the mind. God wants it sung loud and clear so that all might know that He has captured our hearts. Doctrines are fine and theology is helpful, but the Christian Faith is all about the romance of the heart… “God so loved the world, that He gave us His Son…” (Jn 3:16). And now as we come to recognize this incredible gift, we give Him our hearts. What we must never forget is that God responds when our heart begins to sing the New Song in the Congregation of the Redeemed.

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