Silence is fundamental to faithful prayer because prayer begins with the act of listening, not talking. God gets the first word—not the pastor, not the musician, not any of us.
Silence is also fundamental to faithful singing because in silence, we attune our ears to “the chief Conductor of our hymns,” as John Calvin once put it, in order to be reminded that we were not the first to arrive on the liturgical scene. In humility, we listen first—then we sing.
Silence is likewise fundamental to faithful preaching because the preacher must make time for the people of God to inwardly digest the word of God so that it has a fighting chance to take root in our hearts and bear good fruit in our lives.
—W. David O. Taylor, “Make a Joyful Silence Unto the Lord,” Christianity Today October 2019
The sacrifice of praise [Hebrews 13:15] . . . is offered to God through the Lord Jesus. All our praise and prayer passes through Him before it reaches God the Father; our great High Priest removes all impurities and imperfections and adds His own virtue to it:
To all our prayer and praises
Christ adds His sweet perfume;
And love the censer raises
These odors to consume. (Mary B. Peters)
The sacrifice of praise is the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name. The only worship that God receives is that which flows from redeemer lips.
—Believer’s Bible Commentary, 2nd Edition (on Hebrews 13:15)
This is, I think, a very significant thing in the NT, and certainly here in Revelation chapter 5—if the goal of worship is to admire Him in all of His majesty and to cast our crowns before Him and crown Him Lord of all, then notice that in this portrayal of worship, all worship flows from Christ’s leadership and through Christ’s mediation. Isn’t it interesting that John sees the Lion/Lamb standing right at the front of the throne of God, and from Him the Spirit of God flowing to all those who are present in heaven’s glory—as though to say, your worship of the One who is seated on the throne need first of all to be conducted by the One who stands at the front of the throne. And it always need to come through the Spirit by the Son to the One who is seated on the throne. Because, as we have noticed already, He is not only the Mediator of our reconciliation; He is the Mediator of our adoration in worship.
—Sinclair Ferguson, “The Church’s Worship” (audio message: Ligonier Conference, 2006)
It is very tempting to conceive of a worship leader as the spiritual engine that drives the worship train, or the highly-charged sideline coach who needs to keep her team fired up.
This puts all the focus on our agency, a vision that doesn’t square with the New Testament. In the New Testament, our agency as worshipers and leaders is intimately linked with what Jesus is doing as we worship and with what the Holy Spirit is doing as we worship.
Our congregation’s worship is not ultimately mediated by your level of or capacity for emotional engagement but by the perfect mediating work of Jesus, effected through the Holy Spirit. Praise God! This can free you—and all of us—to engage emotionally, but without a sense of burden that it all depends on us.
—John Witvliet, Reformed Worship 116, 45-46