as careful preparation enhances the quality of worship, so too
does attention to the Light during worship. Friends come to
worship to receive and to give, to speak when led, to be silent when
that is what obedience requires. Vocal ministry is a vital part of
Meeting for Worship. It is a form of service in which a person stands
to share a message from God delivered through the individual.
Friends hope that all spoken messages during worship are in fact
vocal ministry. The responsibility rests on each member of the
group to be ready and willing to offer such ministry when called
to do so.
one sits in silence, a message may arise out of the depth of the
soul that seems intended not simply for the worshiper, but for the
gathering as a whole. Some Friends feel burdened with a sense of
omission if a message is not expressed, but once it is faithfully
uttered, a sense of inward peace may follow. Experience in Meeting
helps to discriminate between private words and those that arise
true leadings of the Spirit that should not be silenced. An
inclination to share a message may arise in advance of Meeting, but
the decision to speak should await a clear leading at the time.With
practice, a person may learn to discern a call clearly, though many
are quite unable to describe its quality.
worshipers called to speak feel an internal or external quaking,
deep emotion, tears, an increased heart rate, or other
agitation. Some have felt grabbed by the hand of God and held until
after delivering the message. One person feels a profound stillness
accompanied by a clear voice that is not her own. Another may find
himself suddenly standing, and then wait, praying silently for
guidance, before beginning to speak. Still another may test a
message by repeatedly pushing it ‘out of mind’ only
to find that it
returns again and again.
one is weighing whether to speak, certain questions may be helpful:
Is this message Spirit-led, or merely emotionally compelling?
Is this message intended for this group, or is it only for me?
Is it better saved until another time or place? When the call to
is clear, the worshiper should stand if possible. He or she should
speak simply, briefly, audibly, and from personal spiritual
experience. Occasionally, ministry may take the form of singing or
of standing silently. Neither debate, nor discussion with previous
speakers, is ever appropriate, and speaking twice during a single
Meeting for Worship is very seldom so.
who are led to speak have different backgrounds, verbal skills and
interpretive power. Friends try to listen more than they
speak, keep an open heart, seek the Spirit behind the words and
hold the speaker in love. Listeners may find it helpful to pray that
the messenger is faithful to the call, and that God’s word
through the medium of human speech. A message that does not
speak to one person’s needs may be helpful to another. After
message has been given, it is important to allow time to ponder its
meaning, letting the Spirit move through the assembly of Friends
before another ministers.