The Kenya Chronicles: Worship & Prayer

I had the opportunity to tag along with Scott to the class he was teaching at The Kenya Baptist Theological College. After the class each day of the week, the bible students would assemble in what could only be described as a “mess hall” to participate in their daily chapel service. I was incredibly blessed to be able to preach during this chapel service one day, but what I observed from the Kenyan culture in relation to their worship & prayer is what really stole my attention.

We had a brief time of worship (or singing…if your a Sokanist) before the preaching would commence. I was forced to merely observe because the songs were in Kiswahili. I watched as my African brothers and sisters truly gave glory to the Father through song and music. It was humble and rich. Honestly, it was unlike anything I had ever encountered. Not to say that I haven’t been a part of great worship experiences in the states. But it is an amazing thing to hear a different culture lift up the name of Christ in a different language with no band, lights, or sound system. They worshiped with all their might. Some danced, some clapped, but all were engaged. It was truly beautiful.

An African prayer sounds much different than an American. They had such a reverence and humility to their conversational encounters with the Almighty. They poured out their hearts proudly, yet still preserved a dynamic respect for the One receiving their words. I think we are sometimes guilty of loosing that reverence that we see demonstrated by guys like David and Abraham, Noah, and Moses when verbally addressing our God. In our attempt to make Him as personal as possible (which is not a faulty endeavor) we sometimes misplace the reverence and ultimate respect that our Creator deserves. It seemed that my brothers and sisters at the KBTC knew their position in front of Yahweh. Their prayers were as beautiful as their worship. I guess it is a little easier to understand and demonstrate your status in front of Holy God when you are faced with that life and reality. I don’t fully understand being in a place where God must come through if I want to continue in my reality. While listening, I had such a peace that the God of Africa heard those prayers and was moved.

I am blessed, but cursed. I am cursed, yet blessed.
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12 Responses

  1. Two points:
    1) Even though it is a distinct and different culture the similarities to ours and all others are cause for praise. It truly show the alien aspect of the the people of God. That from all the nations come God’s people. Or as the hymn writer says it “Elect from every nation,
    Yet one over all the earth”

    2)Time, the Word, and a few John Piper sermons will make everyone a “Sokinist” 😉

  2. Honestly, it was unlike anything I had ever encountered. Not to say that I haven’t been a part of great worship experiences in the states.

    I was thinking about this after re-reading your post. If Dave is right in his most recent post, are we not constantly having great worship experiences. I guess my point is this, if worship as you seem to define it is experiencing God, and the Bible says that a sacrifice must be offered by a mediator, and Christ is our final sacrifice and mediator, and that is who we fashion our daily sacrifice after, then is worship something that we can turn on and off like a switch? Can we have a more “worshippful experience” in July then we did in May? Does it mean that one can experience God more then someone else?(For instance: whatever day of the week this chapel was on, is Joe Schmoe Christian in America who is at a 1552 prayer service not experiencing God as much?)
    I think we have this idea of worship that tends to be uber-individualistic, super-“spiritual”, and hyper-subjectivist (the word choice came from a thesaurus ;)) and it fails to rest upon the revelation of God.

    My two cents, but it is probably less then that

  3. Here’s the deal. I love you, but that post wasn’t meant to discuss the definition of worship. Actually, we have talked about this before…and you know that I agree with your stance. I was simply using that word so that the contemporary christian culture would know what I was refering to.
    I’m a little frustrated that the main thrust of this post was ignored.

    I would say, yes. Someone can experience God more than another…and this is how. There are many times when one is more aware of God’s presence than another, which leads to a genuine response to that presence. That makes for a better experience. If in this moment I respond to God’s presence in my very soul (read Campbell’s new post) by spending significant time in prayer…and you sit at home watching a movie, subsequently ignoring God’s presence – that makes for a better, more genuine, significant, meaningful experience. If I meet with my Father (by acknowledging Him and responding to Him)…someone else who is not cannot enjoy the fruit of my meeting.

    And as far as worship…you know where I stand. I believe the simple existence of creation is worship. Which inevitably results in constant worship. Same page, homie.

    I agree that our mind-set on worship is very individualistic and nearly selfish (even flawed). Maybe one day I’ll lay all that out…but these posts are just reflections from Africa…nothing more, nothing less.

  4. I did not ignore the post, as you will notice from the first comment.

    I guess the first thing that needs to be done is define what we mean by experience.

    But I think we are in dangerous territory when we individualize experiencing God. The way we experience God is by God’s Spirit and God’s Word, and those two things go together not seperate. So if we claim to experience God by any other means then we really aren’t.

    I am just trying to understand somethings, this is not judgment or criticism.

  5. I didn’t say you ignored the post…i said the main thrust was ignored…or maybe overlooked. I don’t know. But, in my comment, the word presence is a synonym for spirit. But my guess is that you knew that.

    Does it mean that one can experience God more then someone else? Yes. Depending on whether an acknowledgment and response to God’s word and spirit (presence)is there at any particular time.

    We must individualize our experiences with God. How many times have you seen someone in scripture that had a one on one encounter with God. All the time. God revealed himself to certain people at certain times regarding certain things. Much like the disciples had individual experiences with Christ.

    You said, “So if we claim to experience God by any other means then we really aren’t.” But I do not understand who has done this and why it has been brought up. Either you just want to argue or you have completely misinterpreted me and my post.

  6. I am not arguing…I am just trying to understand…don;t hate on a bro for trying to understand!

  7. The main thrust of your post has not gone unnoticed.

  8. Thanks for the Kenya posts… I’m enjoying reading them.

  9. I know, dawg. Nothing but love. But you know you understand…we were agreeing about this very thing the other night while we were skinny dipping. Whoops.

    Dave & Justin T: Thank you.

  10. i always thought the only way to truly experience God was to be somewhere in the middle east. i mean Scripture doesn’t mention God’s presence in America, and that’s biblical. Booblical. Whatever. Great post dawg. I feel ya (or at least I would really like to feel ya, maybe later tonight.)

  11. post on, poster
    (as in “play on, playa.)

  12. Thanks for information.
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