Note: I’m delighted to be a guest contributor to the WorshipTeamTraining.com website. This article contains my recent guest post “Draw Me Nearer” along with bonus links to the recording of my song and lyrics.
In this article I want to talk about two things. First, some biblical principles for developing greater intimacy with God. Second, how the fruit of our intimacy with God can result in many good things, in this instance writing new songs.
Designed For Intimacy
We are designed for intimacy. First with God, then with others. The gospel promises that we can connect with God at the deepest, most authentic part of our souls.
Scripture encourages us to “draw near to God and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8). Believers are guided to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Jesus instructed his followers to “abide in me” so that we might experience and remain in his love. (John 15:4-10)
How To Draw Near To God
So, how do we “draw near” to God?
First, it requires a hunger and desire to do so. One of the greatest challenges in modern culture is the overwhelming amount of pressures and distractions that keep us running life at a frantic pace. We can find ourselves with precious little time and space for communion with God. So either we have to awaken an unction to go deeper in our relationship with God, or very often life circumstances will come crashing upon us, forcing us to halt. Then we come to him from a very deep place of need. Bottom line, you have to want to be closer to God as desperately as you want your next breath of oxygen.
Second, we have to be intentional to meet with God. You have to put in your schedule – “Personal time alone with God”. It’s a spiritual discipline to build a history of personal worship alone with the Lord.
Third, we have to get quiet and be still. That was David’s secret sauce, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
Finally, we have to practice the presence of God through the response of personal worship. This can include a variety of elements including silence, meditation, journaling, prayer, intercession, deeply reading scripture, singing, writing and other creative expression.
The Fruit of Intimacy
When we draw near to God, he will draw near to us – and He will meet us at our place of need. God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
In His presence there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). When we plug in to the Source of all life, we will find life, abundant and overflowing (John 10:10). We will experience the fruit of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, etc. (Galatians 5:22).
When we connect intimately with the Lord, receiving life and fuel for our soul and spirit, then creativity will flow. God is inherently creative. He designed us with tremendous creative capacity to be co-creators.
Just as the fruit of intimacy between husband and wife is new life in the form of a child, so new expressions of life can be birthed from our times of union with the Lord.
For me, one of those fruits has been creating songs.
Birthing New Songs
Just Worship Him!
As a young adult, I remember our pastor Don Finto would always tell us two things.
First, holding up his bible, he would say “You’ve got to be in in the Word!” He taught us to be in the word of God every day, and to be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit.
Second, he would say “And you’ve got to worship! Get alone with God. If you only play one cord on the piano or the guitar, you take that one cord, open your Bible, and worship Him with all you’ve got. If you play the drums, worship God with your drums and play them for Him.”
This message sunk in. I started doing this. And it changed my life.
Writing Songs As An Overflow of Personal Worship
In my mid 30’s, I was in a very dry place spiritually. And I did what Papa Don told us to do. I picked up my guitar, which had been sitting dormant for many years, and I just started to worship God all by myself in my bedroom, on the back porch … anywhere and everywhere.
I’d open the Bible and practice “palming”, just making up little tunes for some of the Scriptures. There I learned first hand what the Psalmist meant when he said “sing to the Lord a new song!” (Psalm 33:4 and many other places!)
I would pick up my hymnal and sing some hymns. If there was one where I didn’t know the music, I would just make up my own melody. If there was a text I liked but it needed more modern English, I’d change it. If there were lyrics that I liked but I didn’t like the music, I would just make up my own music for them. All of this was spontaneous in “the secret place”, all as a routine of personal worship.
From that place of practicing the presence of God, seeking His face and listening for His voice, something wonderful began to happen. Something I wasn’t looking for, but something I could not help but do. I got in a creative flow and started writing worship songs, sometimes 4 or 5 a day. Some of them were pretty good. Some were published by a major publisher and some are sung around the world to this day.
And thus I began writing many, many worship songs.
Draw Me Nearer: Song Story
One of the hymns that had great meaning for me during this season was “I Am Thine Oh Lord”, text by Fannie Crosby and music by William Doane. I was quite familiar with this hymn because we sang it a lot growing up in my Southern Baptist church.
However when I came upon this hymn in one of my times of personal worship, just being in a contemplative place with the Lord, the music for this song just didn’t fit that atmosphere. The hymn tune is very time warped to that late 1800s revival era church music sound and too upbeat.
As I would sing the song I would naturally adapt the lyrics, changing the word “thine” to “yours”. And I retained most of the original shape of the melody, but changed the chord progression and vibe by slowing it down and just singing it as worship to the Lord.
I love these lyrics as they really helped express my heart. That’s with the best worship songs do, they help us draw out what we want to say, sometimes when we don’t even know that’s what we want to say until we encounter it.
In the moment of creation, I also added a spontaneous tag “ I am yours oh Lord” at the beginning and end of the song.
You can hear my recorded version in the usual outlets, plus here’s a link to the free You Tube version: https://youtu.be/rXRNxeDdSf8
Draw Me Nearer (I Am Yours O Lord)
I am yours O Lord I have heard your voice
And it told Your love to me
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee
Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where you died
Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To your precious, bleeding side
Consecrate me now to your service Lord
By the power of grace divine
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope
And my will be lost in Thine
O the pure delight of a single hour
That before your throne I spend
When I kneel in prayer, and with You my God
I commune as friend with friend
There are depths of love that I can not know
Till I cross the narrow sea
There are heights of joy that I may not reach
Till I rest in peace with Thee (CHORUS)
Original Text: Fanny J. Cosby, adapted by Rob Still
Original Music: Rob Still (C) 1996 RobStillMusic (ASCAP)