The Healing Aspects of Worship
3 John 1:2 begins with this simple prayer. “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” As a worship leader, that is a significant prayer to have in my arsenal of spiritual weaponry…the simple understanding that leading people to a prosperity of soul will lead directly to prosperity in not only other areas of their lives but in their physical health as well. The word prosper in this passage literally means to have a successful journey. This is a very significant thought when used in relation to the healing of wounds through the process of worshiping God. Healing is a process…a journey!
Because I have come through the healing of very deep emotional wounds in my life, I tend to attract emotionally wounded people. When they hear my story they tend to think ‘If God could heal Dennis Jernigan, then maybe He could heal me, too’. It is one of my responsibilities as a worship leader and minister of reconciliation in the body of Christ to share my story for that very reason…and by the way, we are ALL called to be ministers of reconciliation….and we are all called to worship God with our entire being. Yet, how can we do that unless we open our entire being to the Father in honest confession?
We find Jesus has something to say about honest confession in John 8:32 when He says "...and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” We can quote that verse all day long and never walk in freedom. We only get to freedom when we take the first step truth requires, and that is our own honest confession.
What keeps people from confessing their wounds or their sin? Fear of being shamed causes us to allow pride to keep us from being honest. What will people think if I confess my sin? Fear of more wounding causes us to not get honest about those wounds. Truth brings healing and freedom and the first step toward truth is our own honest confession.
Here’s a great example of what I am talking about. If we go to the doctor with a wound that we know is going to kill us, the first thing the doctor will do is ask us to show him where it hurts. To not do so out of fear of what someone else might think and to walk away from that encounter and die would be foolishness. Yet we do that all the time in the church! One of my greatest responsibilities in leading worship is to remind people that God is there whether they feel Him or not…that He sees the things we think we hide and He loves us anyway. As I lead people to simply acknowledge the Lord’s presence in spite of how or what they feel, I lead them as a shepherd leading sheep. This begs the question, “Do you know the needs of your flock?”
Whenever I prepare to lead worship, I do not ask the Lord what songs I am to choose. I ask two simple questions. “Father, would you give me a sense of what the flock needs right now?” and “Father, would You allow me to feel towards Your sheep what You feel towards them?” Once I have received His leadership and answer to those two questions, I then ask Him which songs will lead the people to the place of having their needs met.
What pastures do they need to feed on today? Where do I lead them to drink today? Where is the place of restoring their souls? How do I present to them Your righteousness in worship? How do I lead them from fear to trust? From despair to hope? How do I lead them to comfort? How do I help them stop settling for crumbs beneath the table of the King and sit boldly at the feast of His presence? What wounds need binding and anointing with the oil of His presence today?
I select songs that accomplish the answering of such questions. And then I explain briefly why I selected certain songs that day and lead by example as I share honestly from my own needs and how the Lord used the song in my own life. By lifting up Jesus as the Great Physician and then explaining how to express our hurts and failures to Him in complete abandonment in honest worship, the process of healing begins immediately as people sing the lyrics that cause them to take an honest look at their own needs.
More often than not, after I sense the hearts of the people are ready, I remind them that relationship with God is a two-way street. Not only do we express our needs to Him in song, but He expresses His love for us…in song! Zephaniah 3:17 tells us He rejoices over us with singing. Psalm 32:7 tells us that He surrounds us with songs of deliverance…and this is where the rubber meets the road for me as a worship leader.
I remind them that Jesus asks us to be honest with Him in our wounding. To do so brings about cleansing and healing and steps toward the Light of His love. I quell fear by reminding them of God’s love for them in that while we were yet sinners, Christ still died for us. I crush shame by explaining the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is the understanding that I have done something wrong. Shame is the belief that I AM something wrong. Jesus dealt with our guilt on the cross. He bears our shame in the same way. To say we are something wrong is to tell God He made a mistake when He made us. You are no mistake or you would not be here…because my God makes no mistakes. No matter how far we have fallen, His love can reach that far.
To give people the chance to receive this love in a practical manner right smack dab in the middle of worship, I remind them that worship is an expression of relationship between Father and child. We have just talked/sung to Him. Now it is time for us tor receive a song of deliverance from Him. Often, I ask people to sit at this point of worship, but remind them to remain in a worshipful attitude because we are about to do something special. Something holy. Because I have already sensed the needs of the flock I am leading, I simply ask them to be honest with one another…and give them the opportunity to be the body to one another.
At times, I sense many are going through grief, so I will ask those who are grieving the loss of a loved one to stand so I can sing over them a song of deliverance God has given me. A song of deliverance is generally a song from Father’s point of view that speaks to the need I am addressing in the body. I encourage the body to gather around those who stood and encourage them to lay hands on those standing and to pray quietly while I sing over their needs. Because I have been honest with my own story and needs, others feel free to be honest about theirs. People will get honest when they feel they are safe too do so. Before I sing, I always remind those standing to disregard me and to hear Father’s heart for them. They know why they are standing…and God knows. That’s a great starting place for healing!
If we never give people the opportunity to receive healing for their wounds, we never see full release of worship. My belief is that if I lead people to healing and freedom, they WILL worship openly and freely. I have had times when I asked those who were contemplating taking their own lives to stand. On one such occasion I was shocked to look up and find over 50 people standing in honest confession. Other needs I have sung over include the parents of prodigal children; the sexually abused; those going through a divorce; those who feel they were not wanted; those struggling with depression; those facing financial crises; You name it and I have probably received a song of deliverance for it!
Worship leaders, remember this: healing is a process. To help you better understand how to lead your people via worship through the process of healing, consider reading my book Renewing Your Mind - Identity and the Matter of Choice. Do not be afraid to lead your people to honest confession. I guarantee this from having led worship for 37 years now: Lead people to healing and freedom and worship will be the natural response. Get to know the needs of your flock and lead them accordingly.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
James 5:16 NASB
To help you develop an arsenal of songs of deliverance, I have listed 2 collections of such songs below. I have also listed several specific songs along with the needs they address:
Songs of Ministry
Songs of Ministry 2
Grief and Mourning
I Will Be There - https://dennisjernigan.com/store/product.php?c=24&p=529
It’s Gonna Be Alright - https://dennisjernigan.com/store/product.php?c=24&p=132
Just Keep Breathing - https://dennisjernigan.com/store/product.php?c=24&p=3910
Show Me Where It Hurts - https://dennisjernigan.com/store/product.php?c=24&p=3539
Feeling Unwanted or a Mistake
I Wanted You - https://dennisjernigan.com/store/product.php?c=24&p=669
Parents of Prodigal Children
Be My Child - https://dennisjernigan.com/store/product.php?c=24&p=3246
Songs of Honest Confession from Us to Father
When the Night is Falling - https://dennisjernigan.com/store/product.php?c=24&p=3912
If I Could Just Sit With You Awhile - https://dennisjernigan.com/store/product.php?c=24&p=3900
The following is an excerpt from the book Renewing Your Mind by Dennis Jernigan which is available at
The Process of Healing
When faced with the need for healing of our minds—the way we think about ourselves—the enemy would love for us to feel overwhelmed by the mountainous terrain that our stinkin’ thinkin’ raises before us. Let us remember that we are on a journey—an adventure—here and that journeys require time and planning. After all, it may have taken years to build up the mountains of wrong thinking you now experience, so it may take years to tear it down. Like a building that we build with our thoughts, we tend to build it brick by brick. When tearing down that building, it is often necessary to tear it down in the same way: brick by brick, thought by thought. Bottom line? Healing is a process. The process of healing was brought home to me through the years in very tangible ways, complete with physical reminders of deep spiritual Truths.
Many years ago, I was working on my farm with my tractor. Having been grading the gravel road to and from my barn using the box blade scraper, I needed to take the heavy implement off so I could attach the brush hog and do some mowing. A box blade is like a small road grading blade one can attach to one’s tractor and scrape dirt and gravel and the like. While the blade itself is about five feet across and twenty-four inches deep, on the front of the implement are four long spikes called rippers that are spaced in front of the blade. The rippers cut through the ground and break it up, allowing the scraper to then come along behind and scrape the broken ground up. The entire apparatus weighs several hundred pounds.
In a hurry to get to my next task, and having performed the changing of implements many times before, I did not take the time to go through all the necessary safety steps. As I disconnected the hydraulic arm to which the right side of the blade was attached to the reactor, it slipped off before I was ready—because of the vibrations of the still-running tractor. Before I could get out of the way, the blade fell from the tractor and onto my right leg. The ripper did its job, ripping right into my lower calf and pinning me in a very awkward position beneath the large rear tire of the tractor.
My first thoughts? I do not wish to die this way. The tractor was still running and the goats, notorious for climbing on any and everything, were nearby. All I could think—and I am serious about this—was my friends would mock the way I died at my funeral! “Can you believe he was killed by goats?” If I ever needed to be in control of my thoughts, it was in that moment. After serval minutes of pleading with the Lord to help me find the strength to remove myself from this entrapment, He came through. As I looked down at the wound, I saw a gaping hole in my leg exposing my tendon, muscle, and bone.
Not realizing I was in shock, I could only think of covering the wound and getting the flap of dangling flesh back in its proper place. Calmly, I pulled the flesh over the hole in my leg and held it there, walking all the way from behind the barn to the house bent over awkwardly while trying to keep the flesh in place. As I neared the house, Melinda came out and I showed her the wound.
Wasting no time, she helped me get into the car, and she drove speedily to the nearest ER seven miles away. Nearing the ER, I told her to simply drop me off and park the car while I did the preliminary check-in.
Approaching the nurse station, I told the receptionist that I had injured myself and needed help. She calmly replied, “You’ll need to fill out some paperwork.” Still in shock, I felt overwhelmed to the point I could do no more. Turning around from the window, I simply slumped to the floor beneath the window—and sat. As Melinda came through the door, she asked, “What are you doing down there?” All I could muster to say was, “I need to do some paperwork.” Bursting through the ER door to the triage unit, Melinda shouted, “My husband needs help!” And help came.
Two surgeries later, I was sent home to heal. Miraculously, there were no broken bones. Just nerve damage and the wound itself, which had been nicely stitched closed, seemed merely incidental after the fact. A lot of trauma for such a seemingly small wound. Little did I know but that little wound would have a far-reaching effect upon my life—and the way I think.
After a few days of rest and recuperation, I noticed the bruising around the wound was not getting any better. In fact, the flesh over the wound seemed to be growing darker and darker, fading from deep blue to deeper black. And it began to develop an odor—like rancid, decaying flesh. Since this did not seem right, I went back to the surgeon and showed him my wound. Without saying a word, he simply began to cut away the flesh, once again leaving a gaping hole in my lower calf, revealing the inner parts once again. I asked him, “When can you do a skin graft to cover the wound?” His answer sent holy chills through my being: “A skin graft will not work for this kind of wound. For this type of wound to heal properly, it must heal from the inside out.”
With those words, “It must heal from the inside out,” I knew in that moment that the Lord was going to be teaching me a few deeper things about healing. Confused, I asked him what he meant. I asked him how that could be possible. He then explained to me the process of healing. His instructions, while simple, were full of profound, life-giving Truth. He instructed me to soak the wound twice a day in a bucket of warm water. In that water, I was to mix a cup of Tide detergent and soak for thirty minutes. His explanation for this? The wound needs to be as clean as possible in order to promote healing.
As those words sank into my mind, I could not help but think of and relate this need for cleansing to the human need to confess one’s sins. As I have already stated in a previous chapter, you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free…but the first step Truth requires is our own honest confession—or cleansing! And the added bonus? Simply learning to rest in—soak in—God’s presence! Awesome in and of itself, but the doctor was not through.
Following up the need for soaking and constant cleansing, he prescribed a large roll of gauze, sterile and clean. I was to pack the wound with said gauze as soon as I was through with my morning soak…packing it as tightly as possible so as to not allow any foreign materials into the wounded place. In addition, he instructed me to pull the gauze out before soaking at the end of the day. Curious, I asked him why. He told me that as I pulled the gauze out—which will probably hurt a bit, but will be worth the pain—any dead and decaying material would adhere to the gauze and be removed from the wound, bringing even more cleansing. Awesome! But wait, there was more!
“As you remove the gauze, make the edges of the wound bleed as much as possible.” What? His words once again sent chills through my soul. “There is life in the blood. The blood will bring life-giving nutrients to the wounded places, and slowly but surely, the wound will gradually close as the flesh grows back.” All I heard was, “There is life in the blood.” Just as with the physical nature of the healing properties of my physical blood, the life of a new creation is healed as the blood of Jesus—the cleansing, redeeming, healing, mind-changing, debt-paying blood of Jesus—is applied to the wounds of our mind by simple faith!
As time went by, my mind was consumed with such thoughts. As my mind began to heal in new ways, so the wound on my leg began to heal. Pondering this process, I understood the need for cleansing. With honest confession comes Truth. Truth sets me free. As I placed my faith in the power of the blood of Jesus Christ, the wounded places in my mind began to come back into spiritual alignment with God’s Truth.
Confession and the blood were easy to see, but I still did not fully understand the need for packing the wound. So I asked the Lord what the packing material for my spiritual, mental wounds was. He simply whispered to my mind, “Son, what did you pack into your wound that came as a result of leaving your past identity?”
Without missing a beat, I said to Him, “What shall we say, then? Am I to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall I who died to sin still live in it?” That’s Romans 6:1–2.
Before I could say another word, He asked, “And what did you pack in the wounded place when the enemy would threaten you with humiliation and condemnation?” Again, without hesitation, I quoted Micah:
Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; Though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light for me. (Micah 7:8)
And then it hit me. The packing material of my life since being born again had been the Word of God! In every wounded place caused by the lies of the enemy, I had packed the Word of God, and just as with that physical gauze, I would pull the Word out of the wound and drag out more impurities. Then I would repack the wound again and again and again! Healing is a process—and I thought the lessons I had learned from the tractor incident were it…but there was still more.
After a year of healing in my body and in my mind, I was finally well enough to play basketball again. In my first pickup game since my wounding, I was making a cut toward the basket—when someone hit me on the back of my left ankle with what felt like a baseball bat! Sounding like a literal explosion in my mind, the piercing pain sent me spinning around, crumpled, to the floor. Writhing in pain, I shouted to my buddies, “Who hit me? Did you guys see who hit me?”
Confused at my response, one of the guys simply said, “DJ, there was no one near you. No one hit you.”
The MIR later that evening revealed a completely shattered and severed Achilles tendon. Due to the circumstances, we had to wait ten days for the surgery to take place. As soon as I came out from under anesthesia, the surgeon said, “Mr. Jernigan, we did not have enough of your tendon left to put you back together.”
Before he could continue, I moaned, “Oh, no!” in disappointment.
Continuing, he simply said, “But we were able to repair the tear.”
“But, how?” I asked.
“During the time between the wounding and the surgery, so much scar tissue had formed that we were actually able to harvest some of that material and bridge the gap between the wounded places. We put you back together.”
By whose scars and wounds and own torn flesh was I granted healing that birdied the gap between my wounded, broken places and the Maker of the Universe? By the scars of Jesus I am being healed! Healing is a process…and scars are like altars testifying to the healing power of God! What do my scars represent?
When I was a small boy, I was in the pasture petting one of our horses. We called him Big Red. As I petted him, he began to nip at my fingers. This caused great fear in my little heart. Spying the mulberry tree on the fence line, I ran with all my might to the safety of the tree as Big Red kept pace with my little-boy run for my life!
Safely climbing the tree to what I thought would be refuge, I was horrified to realize that Big Red could still reach me! My only recourse? I could jump the barbed wire fence to the safety and security of the other side! If there had been an Olympic event called fence straddling, I would have won gold that day.
No sooner had I been released from the ER than my mom asked me how I was doing. My response? “I can’t wait to show the scar to my brothers and my cousins!”
A scar is what’s left of a wound as a reminder that says—in a spiritual sense—“Yes, I went through that terrible, horrible, hurtful event…but look what my God did!” That is a kingdom-of-God perspective on the process of healing. Own your scars, but give glory to God. Rather than those hurtful memories being like stones draped around your neck that drag you down to despair and self-focus, cut them away with the Truth that says, “Yes, I went through that, but see what my God has done!” Healing is a process—a process meant to restore hope and bring healing at every point along the journey. Even when pain is involved, joy can be the result if the process is seen from the Maker’s point of view. Who made doctors? Who gave man the wisdom to create medicine? Who is the ultimate Healer? The One who made us.
One more thing. There is only one time a follower of and believer in Christ should give up hope. We should give up the hope of ever changing our past! Stop trying! It cannot be done. Face it in honest confession and go through the process of healing in the areas of past failure and regret. Allow the Lord to take the rabble and messes of your life and bring something beautiful out of the rabble and the mess! He is able if we let Him see our wounded places. Open up your heart to Him and let Him be the Great Physician. He is a safe place for healing to take place. Soak in His presence. Pack the Word into the wounds of your mind. Apply the healing brunets of His cleansing blood to your wounds and allow His own wounding to bridge the gap between you and your Maker.
My final thought: I am healed. I am being healed. I will be healed. Where I am is in process…and the process looks a lot like Jesus!