Physical Expression in Worship

Hands raised  in worshipOne area in which there is a significant difference between churches is the amount of physical expression used in worship. Singing is one form of physical expression that virtually all churches practice, but apart from that how do we physically express our worship to God? There is quite a range of practice on this matter, from those who stand reverently, hands at their sides, and sing softly to those who clap and raise their hands, all the way to those who jump and dance in worship. Is there any clear biblical guidance as to what kind of physical expression in worship is appropriate?

We should worship God with all that we are, including intellect, emotions, will, and our bodies. While we may each be inclined in different directions, we need to take a fresh look at the physical expressions of worship mentioned in the Bible. Not that every specific action mentioned in the Bible is a required part of worship (otherwise we would all need to dance before the Lord), but we need to see the range of possible means to express devotion to God in a physical way. To say that we should not express our worship in any physical way would contradict the many examples of worship in Scripture as well as the fundamental concept of worshiping God with all that we are. God made us as corporeal beings, not disembodied spirits, and our bodies should be a part of our worship.

I don’t want to get into a discussion of the specific types of physical expression at this time. Rather, I want to point you to an excellent series of articles by worship leader Bob Kauflin in Worship Matters about how we can grow in physical expressiveness in worship. (This is the first post of a four part series.)

He is writing especially to worship leaders, and he makes four main points about how to help people grow in physical expression in worship:

  1. Teach on the appropriateness of physical expression in worshipping God.
  2. Teach that physical expression should flow from a heart that desires to bring God glory, and that outward expressions are no sign one way or the other that someone is offering God acceptable worship.
  3. Address the different reasons people might be reserved in their expression and teach on preferring others.
  4. Preach and sing the Word, works, and worth of God, centered on the Gospel, to raise the affections of people for God.

The series is balanced and Scripturally based. If you are interested in this topic, I suggest that you check it out.

5 Responses to Physical Expression in Worship

  • Yesterday during worship at my church, I was doing praise and worship with two more worship leaders.

    During one of the songs I noticed that my voice was changing and I was sounding different, It started to get very deep almost like a growl or authoritative sound.

    The song is ””Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered”

    The anointing fell down upon me so much that the Lord had me walking across the floor while singing in this mighty strong voice. I kept my eyes closed in order to not be distracted and to make sure I was in God and not in myself at all… someone took the microphone from me, maybe in order for me to move about freely so the Lord could have his way.

    Then I started to say ‘Let God, let God, let God, Let God, let God, let God, Let God, let God, let God, Let God, let God, let God,” in that same new tone of voice.

    After that song, they started to sing another song that I have never heard before but I am still under this heavy anointing with my eyes still closed.

    Someone put the microphone back in my hands and said ’sing sister’…

    But instead of singing, I started to move in the spirit, only my body moved but mostly my hands, head waist bending and so on (not much was done with my feet as I can recall)…it seems almost like a sign dance while the congregation is still singing,…I am not doing this of my own free will but by the leading of the spirit. My hands and facial facial expressions are strong.

    It is like the Lord was interpreting the song in a sign language…this had never happened to me in church, neither have I ever seen this happen in a service before so I am not sure what it was. I have seen groups or individuals do interpretive dances, but not like this, not during a normal worship session…Do you think this was a prophetic declaration or dance or interpretation to the song that was being sung.?

    Do you think someone there may have understood or misunderstood what was happening? What is the purpose of these prophetic dances if not one is helped or edified?

    I feel fine, that’s all I know and I give the honor and glory to God.

    I know this is a bit long but need some clarity so I am searching the internet for answers and ran into your site which seem to be one of the closest to my experience and I was like, ‘What?..so I am glad I found your site. Thanks to God for the internet.

    I received some encouraging words regarding this experience, but is there anything you can add?

    Do you think this was a prophetic declaration or dance or interpretation to the song that was being sung.?

    Sis Audrey

  • PK says:

    I am not sure what you experienced, but it is important that we interpret all of our experiences on the basis of Scripture. The NT teaching is that when the Spirit moves He does not take over so that we do have control. In 1 Cor. 14:31-32 Paul says that prophets should speak one at a time, which they can do because “the spirit of the prophets are subject to the prophets.”

    I do not know of any example in Scripture of God speaking through a “prophetic dance,” and I don’t know how that could be interpreted. You ask the right question about how others could be edified.

  • Luis says:

    Pk I have some questions. So what you are stating in the comment is that it was NOT the Spirit of the Lord or Holy Spirit leading or using Audrey. Here are some questions, in Acts when the disciples were in the upper room and the spirit descend in form of fire and the disciple were speaking in tongues was it one at a time or all together? (unknown) So next question, you are stating that they had control of what they were saying. Why would someone in there right mind, speak what to them is babble? I believe the tongue was controlled or led by the spirit. because how could others understand what they were saying. But could read into it and know it was more than one langange they were speaking? Where they forced or were they led by the spirit?

    Aubrey, I would just like you to know, it could have been a prophetic dance, a dance of victory that your were unaware of that was coming your way, or just a touch of the spirit. But how you can really tell is how you felt at the end. You just know it was God and it is hard to explain.

    Not everything is black and white. Example, I was in Walmart waiting for my wife to enter the building, I heard something not audible it is hard to explain say the next person that walks through the doors you are going to buy the girl a easter outfit. To make a longer story short. A lady walked in with her daughter I approached them and said I dont want to sound crazy but I was led to buy your daughter a dress for Easter. The child jumps up and down and told her mother I told you God was going to give me my dress. To add to that the mother was going to the Mall so they could just look at easter dress and the daughter tell her mother mom can we go to Wal-Mart because I want to touch my dress. How could I have known? Why was I being led? Where in the Bible is that? You just know, know, know that it is God or the Holy Spirit guiding us.

    • Audrey Gordon says:

      Thanks Luis, I am confident that I know it is from the Lord’s Holy Spirit I have developed Oh so much more in this gift, it is amazing. It mesmerizes people as many of them have never seen it to the point where people actually want to imitate it and they cannot because it does not happen of myself, it is a gift from God . we grow and learn as we go along as no one person knows or understands it all, only Jesus

  • Ken says:

    I don’t think that I said that the Spirit was NOT leading Audery. My point was just that it is important to be discerning. She was trying to evaluate her experience biblically, which is the right thing to do.

    My point about control is that when we are lead by the Spirit, we voluntarily surrender to His control and allow Him to lead us. Some people have had experiences in which a spirit takes over and forces them to do something against their will. I have serious questions in such cases about which spirit is controlling them.

    Your story sounds like a wonderful example of God leading you to bless a little girl. Thanks for sharing it.

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"True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less." -- C. S. Lewis