“Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skilfully, and shout for joy.” Psalm 33:1-3 (NIV)
The psalmist makes it clear that, as we worship God, we should be playing our instruments skilfully.
I believe God is pleased when He sees his children honing their skills on at least one instrument so as to be able to more freely and expressively worship Him.
My hope is that worship leaders and musicians are so overwhelmed by the awesome privilege it is to lead God’s people into worship that they’ll regularly spend significant amounts of time learning more about their instruments and how to get the best from them.
While we mustn’t fall into the trap of trying to perform or perfect a time of corporate worship, there’s nothing at all wrong in approaching a place where a musical instrument almost becomes a part of you.
Though I wouldn’t be so bold as to suggest that I’ve reached a point where I don’t have to think about the technicalities of playing music, I do believe I’ve come to a place where I can freely worship God using a keyboard or piano without having to worry about how to play it, when to move from chord to chord, how the sustain pedal works, and so on.
That’s not to say that I no longer work hard at my art. If anything, my desire is to work harder so I don’t fall into the trap of thinking “Oh, I can play keys, I don’t need to practice any more”.
It’s also important not to take God’s gifts for granted. I don’t take lightly the musical abilities God has given me. If anything I’m so extremely thankful that I have another outlet in which to worship God in private.
What I hope is that those with a calling and passion to lead others into worship will eagerly seek to improve their musicianship, to a point that they can almost forget about the mechanics of playing an instrument and are then more able to move with the directing of the Holy Spirit.
It takes time, practice and dedication to continually improve our musical skills, but the rewards for both personal and group worship can be immense.