Harp and Bowl is not a new style of worship but a restoration of what once existed here on earth and is a reflection of what is happening before the throne of God right now.
King David established praise and worship mixed with music and prayer in the Tabernacle of David (1 Chronicles 15 & 16). During his reign, there was constant praise and worship, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week before the Ark of the Covenant. For over thirty years, they worshiped God wholeheartedly and He blessed the nation of Israel in mighty ways. God promised in Acts 15 that one day He will restore the Tabernacle of David. Harp and Bowl is a foreshadowing of that restoration, and what we do is in the spirit of the Tabernacle of David. Whenever the Davidic style of worship has been restored, God has blessed His people with mighty signs and wonders.
Revelation 4 and 5 tells us that this is the kind of worship in heaven around the throne of God. The four living creatures and twenty-four elders fall before the Lamb. Each one holds a harp and a bowl. The harp represents music and the bowl represents the prayers of the believers.
Ephesians 5:19 instructs us to make music in our hearts to the Lord. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16 –17, we are told to be joyful always and to pray constantly. Harp and Bowl combines music and prayer, one empowering the other; worship makes prayer enjoyable and sustainable for longer periods. This allows us to connect with the Holy Spirit and joyfully flow in our prayers. God promised in Isaiah 56:7 to give His worshipers joy in His house of prayer. Many are discovering that through joyful prayer they are being drawn deeper into the heart of God.
In Harp and Bowl, the intercession is rooted in intimacy and encounter with God, we pray using scriptures as the starting point and pattern for our prayers, and the musicians and singers function as intercessors just as much as the prayer leaders. The prayer leaders speak their prayers, the singers sing their prayers and the musicians play their prayers.
Harp and Bowl prayer is a universal format that can be expressed in a number of different ways. It is a total integration of prayer and worship woven together seamlessly. It is an expression of what is happening around the throne of God at this very moment: we get a glimpse in Revelation chapter 5, where we see the four living creatures and the twenty four elders around the throne of God. In verse 8 we read they they each have a harp and a golden bowl. The harp speaks of music and worship, while the bowl signifies the prayers of the saints. So we have this tremendous picture of worship and prayer surrounding the throne of God, continually being offered before Him.
King David had a revelation of this reality long before John saw it in Revelation. We read in 1 Chronicles that David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, and placed it in a tent or tabernacle. But instead of veiling the Ark with a curtain as Moses had done, David surrounded the Ark with musicians and singers, who continually offered up worship and prayer to God day and night without ceasing. So this is what we do with our Harp and Bowl prayer gatherings: we surround the throne of God with prayer and worship just as David did - in the spirit of the Tabernacle of David. We know that David's Tabernacle will once again be a physical reality when Jesus returns (Amos 9:11–12), but in the meantime we see this spiritual parallel, which God is raising up all over the world in these days.
We have three different expressions of Harp and Bowl: Intercession, Worship with the Word and Devotional. Please click on the headings below for a brief description of each expression.
At our intercession meetings we have a worship leader with band and prophetic singers, a prayer leader and an "open" microphone for anyone to pray on. We begin the meeting with an extended time of worship to give people an opportunity to come into God's presence and seek Him for what is on His heart. At the end of this time of worship (which will often culminate with an extended time of singing in the Spirit) the prayer leader will lead the room in prayer. Normally we will have a specific prayer focus for the evening. At intervals during this prayer the prayer leader will pause, and the prophetic singers will sing phrases based on what has just been prayed, thus extending the prayer. Often a particular phrase will be sung which encapsulates the heart of the prayer and this will be repeated several times as a chorus, and we encourage the whole room to join in so that everyone becomes involved in the prayer. This is the heart of Harp and Bowl, where prophetic (antiphonal) singing extends the prayer and draws everyone in.
After this we will go back into a worship song, and the cycle will be repeated. However this time we will encourage others in the room to come to the microphone to lead the room in prayer. Again, the singers will be available to extend the prayer and engage the room. This cycle will be repeated several times during the prayer meeting.
There are two variations that may be introduced at some point: rapid fire and small group prayer. Rapid fire, as its name suggests is when we invite people to come, one after another, and pray a short 10–15 second prayer on a specific prayer focus. Small group prayer is when we invite people to gather into small groups of 3–5 to pray for particular issues on peoples' hearts.
We always encourage people to pray out of the scriptures, as this gives a solid base for the focus of the prayer, and also gives the prophetic singers somewhere to work from. In particular we recommend praying from the apostolic prayers, as these are prayers we know God will answer! Intercession is about partnering with God – it is not about coming with our list of requests to God, but rather, listening to what is on God's heart and praying into the things that He highlights.
At its heart, Worship with the Word is a musical exploration of a passage of scripture – we think of it as a sung bible study. Unlike Intercession, however, there is no "open" microphone for people to come and pray on. The purpose of Worship with the Word is to encourage us all to go deeper in the Word of God, to become familiar with the scriptures, and to explore together what God is saying through them. It gives people an opportunity to meditate on a passage or theme, with the help of prophetic singers and musicians who will already have spent time studying and meditating on the passage.
As with all the Harp and Bowl expressions, we begin with a time of corporate worship to engage and focus the room. The the team will begin to sing through the passage, phrase by phrase, exploring the meaning, bringing in cross-references from other scriptures, and generally developing the theme of the passage. This can often be quite dramatic, or poetic, sometimes loud, sometimes quiet. There may be prophetic oracles, where one of the singers prophecies from part of the passage. Interspersed in the development of the passage will be choruses which we encourarage everyone to join in with,; there may also be musical "selahs" (a word found in the Psalms) which are instrumental interludes played by prophetic musicians to give space for meditation on what has just gone before. There will also be worship songs from time to time, which again help to engage the room and give an opportunity to express our worship to God in response to what we have been receiving from His word.
The Devotional expression of Harp and Bowl gives room for personal devotion and study in the context of anointed worship. The session may be led by an individual musician, or by a band, or sometimes using pre-recorded music. The music may be instrumental or vocal, and may or may not have a specific theme. It is designed to provide an atmosphere in which those present can come personally before God and enjoy His presence. Many use these time to soak in God's presence and to let the Holy Spirit minister to them through the music. It is a place for restoration of the soul.