Playing Drums: A Personal Perspective on Intercessory Prayer for Native America

PLAYING DRUMS – Instruments of Community Building, Reconciling, Healing

In 2012 I attended the Annual Planetree Conference in Palm Desert, California. Planetree is an organization and network focused on patient-centered care. I went with 5 co-workers on behalf of the hospital we work for. One of the keynote speakers was Christine Stevens, MSW, MT-BC. She is a gifted speaker and music therapist. She has an organization called UpBeat Drum Circles and she teaches about the healing benefits of playing a drum. .

Of course, indigenous peoples around the world have recognized and valued the power of the drum. I’ve heard of and seen people healed while playing the drum. The concept is not new to me. Even with countless testimonies of miracles associated with playing the drum, there are also many Christians who teach against the use of indigenous drums in church. During my 15 years in American Indian ministry, I have experienced more conflict over the use of the American Indian drum in prayer, worship and church than anything else.

What I appreciated most about Stevens’ message was that healing from playing the drum is ‘evidence based’. She has conducted scientific studies that prove that when a person plays a drum, they experience immediate physical benefits like lowered blood pressure. She has been invited into foreign countries to help bring reconciliation between warring tribes through drum circles. She has also helped facilitate healing drum circles with veterans groups and inner city youth groups. She works closely with Remo Drums (

Scripture is full of references to the drum, also referred to as the timbrel, tambourine, taboret, and tabret.

“Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp?” Genesis 31:27 KJV

“Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and dancing.” Exodus 15:20 Amplified

“Then Jephthah came to Mizpah to his home, and behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances! And she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.” Judges 11:34 Amplified

“Next, go to Gibeah, where the Philistines have an army camp. As you’re going into the town, you’ll meet a group of prophets coming down from the place of worship. They’ll be going along prophesying while others are walking in front of them, playing small harps, small drums, and flutes.” 1 Samuel 10:5 – CEV

“As they were coming home, when David returned from killing the Philistine, the women came out of all the Israelite towns, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul with timbrels, songs of joy, and instruments of music.” 1 Samuel 18:6

“And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.” 2 Samuel 6:5

“And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets.” 1 Chronicles 13:8

“He hath made me also a byword of the people; and aforetime I was as a tabret.” Job 17:6

“They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ.” Job 21:12

“The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after; among them were the damsels playing with timbrels.” Psalm 68:25

“Raise a song, sound the timbrel, the sweet lyre with the harp.” Psalm 81:2

“Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.” Psalm 149:3

“Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.” Psalm 150:4

“And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands.” Isaiah 5:12

“The mirth of the timbrels is stilled, the noise of those who rejoice ends, the joy of the lyre is stopped.” Isaiah 24:8 Amplified

“And every passing stroke of the staff of punishment and doom which the Lord lays upon them shall be to the sound of [Israel’s] timbrels and lyres, when in battle He attacks [Assyria] with swinging and menacing arms.” Isaiah 30:32

“Again I will build you and you will be built, O Virgin Israel! You will again be adorned with your timbrels [small one-headed drums] and go forth in the dancing [chorus] of those who make merry.” Jeremiah 31:4 Amplified

“Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.” Ezekiel 28:13

Prayer Regarding Playing Drums

“Father, thank You for creating the drum. Thank You for creating an instrument that can be used to worship You, that can be used to celebrate and build community, and that can be used to heal the body as it is played. Thank You for the people who have persevered to prove that the drum is an instrument of healing and reconciliation. Father, Your indigenous people have fought long and hard to preserve the drum. Most of their fight has been with the government and the Church. The government and Church have been afraid of the drum. We know that the drum is not something to be worshipped or feared. We know that You created the drum as an instrument. Great Deliverer, Yahweh, remove fear and superstition about playing the drum according to Your perfect will. Forgive Your people who have tried to destroy the drum and have tried to prevent people from playing a drum. Giver of Life, restore the use of the drum throughout North America. Open up doors of opportunity for Your indigenous people to proudly and freely teach about the drum. Creator of Honor, teach Your people how to respect the drum and refrain from profiting from the drum in a way that steals Your glory. Restore playing of the drum throughout North America, that North America will receive Your healing. Father, thank You for the evidence that playing the drum is beneficial. Thank You for answering the prayers and cries of Your indigenous people. Yahweh, You are Faithful. We pray for Your perfect will, Yahweh, regarding the playing of the drum throughout North America, in the name of Your Son Yeshua and by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Rev. Jeny Running Brook Covill
First Nations Monday

(Note: This is Part 1 of a study that was originally prepared in November 2012 in partnership with NIAP Prayer Shield)

Books Used in this 12 Month Study

The Holy Bible in the following translations: KJV, NIV, Amplified, NASB, CEV and The Scriptures.

“Church History in Plain Language” by Bruce L. Shelley

“Encyclopedia of Native American Wars & Warfare”. General Editors William B. Kessel, Ph.D. and Robert Wooster, Ph.D.

“This Day In North American Indian History” by Phil Konstantin

As with the First Nations Monday prayer and Scripture studies, I like to study with 5 translations. As you go through these studies, I encourage you to do the same. “The Scriptures” is a translation that includes the original Hebrew names and has the books in chronological order. The Contemporary English Version (CEV) is a translation that is written for ‘oral tradition’ peoples and it flows well while reading it aloud. The Amplified version is one where meanings of words and phrases are ‘amplified’ for better understanding. The King James Version (KJV) is the translation that works well with Strong’s Concordance. The Complete Jewish Bible (CJB) is a great companion version that I find gives great insight.


First Nations Version Project
A retelling of the Sacred Scriptures for Native Americans and all English speaking Indigenous peoples.

Cherokee Bible Project – ONLINE – New Testament

Cherokee Bible Project – ONLINE – Old Testament

Cherokee Bible Project Titles in Book form:
(A joint mission of the Cherokee Bible Project and Four Rivers Native American Church)
Genesis in Cherokee
Haggai in Cherokee
Jonah in Cherokee
100 Days Of Indigenous Wisdom
Cherokee New Testament
New Cherokee Hymnal
Matthew’s Gospel in Cherokee
Mark’s Gospel in Cherokee
Luke’s Gospel in Cherokee
John’s Gospel in Cherokee
The Acts of the Apostles in Cherokee
ROMANS in Cherokee
JAMES to JUDE in Cherokee
John’s Revelation in Cherokee
Pastoral Epistles in Cherokee (coming)
General Epistles in Cherokee (coming)

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