3 Tips on Playing For Prayer

Don't be a distraction.

There are often moments in a worship set where someone is talking, praying or just waiting to go into the next song where we are tasked with playing background music. While there are no hard and fast rules on what you should play, here are a few ideas to keep you from becoming a distraction.

1. Keep it simple.

These moments are meant for prayer and reflection. If the guitar player who’s sitting in the 6th row’s ears perk up because of that tasty riff you threw in, you’re being a distraction. There are times to praise hard with your instrument but prayer time is rarely one of them. Try simple, repetitive melodies with slight variations.

2.Play with confidence.

Prayer time is not practice time. It’s incredibly distracting to hear a keyboard player “finding” their way to a part during prayer time. It often includes a few wrong notes and some tentative melodies. Stick with what you know. You can be creative but work within a framework you are confident in. Now is not the time to try out the phrygian mode you started practicing this week.

3.Stick with what’s working.

These times often happen when things are going well and we just want to sit in the moment. Don’t be afraid to vamp the melody of the chorus we were just all engaged in. It’s helpful to your band to do this as well. If you are willing to stay with something for awhile, your bandmates might come up with parts they didn’t hear in the song and you could have a real creative moment. Don’t be in a rush to move on.


Obviously, these are just ideas, but they are ones that have worked well for me over the years. Remember, the key is to stay out of the way and let the Spirit take over. I’d love to hear your thoughts on playing for prayer. What works? What doesn’t? Let me know in the comments below.


Jason Houtsma serves as Worship Pastor for Mosaic Church in Bellingham, WA, Husband to Alli, Father to Bjorn and Asher, and guitar instructor for WorshipArtistry.com

3 Tips on Playing For Prayer

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