Sunday, September 10, 2023

Prayer, Praise and Worship - The Ultimate Lifeline

Music is powerful.  It can boost our mood and make us happy. It can pump us up, getting us through a strenuous workout. It can motivate us, helping us to power  through a difficult task or cleaning the house It can evoke strong memories, transporting us back in time, stirring either pleasant and joyful memories or painful and sad ones.. Music is also a very mighty tool that connects us to God, guiding us toward praising Him for all He’s done, or worshiping Him in adoration for Who and All He is, or crying out to Him when we are hurting or burdened or weary and don’t know what else to do.   To me, singing to and about the Lord is a form of prayer to Him, and it connects me and draws me closer to Him. 

When I was a child, music was a big part of my growing up.  I was surrounded by it. My grandmother was a singer and my uncles played the accordion and guitar. My father attempted to get in to the music business; he dabbled in writing, singing and recording his songs. Both my mother and father had vast collections of LP’s. My dad would play anything from Fats Domino to Chubby Checker, and he made sure we watched Soul Train every Saturday afternoon. Everything he listened to was always upbeat and fun.  My mother, on the other hand, listened to artists like Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon. My mom suffered from depression most of her life, so the music she listened to tended to lean towards the melancholy, and thus it had a detrimental effect on me.  To this day, I cannot listen to anything in the minor key scale because it brings me back to those depressing childhood days, and it unsettles me inside. My husband has a massive collection of Christian music from the 70’s on up, and sometimes when he is playing a song that is in the minor keys, after a few minutes, I have to ask him to change it. Even though the words are beautiful, the sad sounding minor keys suddenly gives me a very gloomy feeling. It is amazing how strong of an effect the melody of a song can have on me some 50 plus years later. It is a testament of how deep an influence music is on the emotional center of the brain. And which is why I tend to only listen to positive music with an uplifting beat.

God uses music in many powerful ways.  Throughout the bible, examples of songs of praises, songs of victory, and songs of mourning can be found. When the Israelites were delivered from the Egyptians, they broke out into spontaneous songs of praise and victory, the Song of Miriam and Moses in Exodus 15:  After Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison and put into stocks, they started praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them when suddenly a great earthquake shook the prison and the doors were opened (Acts 16:25-28). Talk about the power of song!  What an amazing example!  Instead of being sad or angry that they were just beaten and thrown into jail unjustly, Paul and Silas just started singing and praising the Lord!  I wonder what the prisoners were thinking. They must have been impressed.  I know the experience caused the keeper of the prison to become so terrified that he asked what he must do to be saved, and he and his family were baptized that night (Acts 16:29-34).  Musical instruments are also mentioned several times in the bible. Instruments such as the harp, trumpet, cymbals, lyre, shofar, bells, tambourine, flute, and timbrel were all used quite frequently in biblical times.  David used the harp to calm Saul when a distressing spirit from the Lord was troubling him.  ”David would take a harp and play for him, and Saul would become refreshed and well and the distressing spirit would depart from him”- 1 Samuel 16: 14-23.   In Jericho, the high and formidable walls fell down on the seventh day of marching, after the priests blew the trumpets, the shofar horns, and the peopled shouted with a great shout (Joshua 6). The walls were no small walls, they were massive stone walls, between 12-15 feet high and 6 feet wide, and they were backed by a 28 foot watchtower. God used the shouts of men and the sounds of the horns to crumble these walls that were considered impenetrable as a reminder of His mighty power and faithfulness.

I myself have seen the powerful impact of songs of worship and praise many times in my own life.  Two particular examples stand out in my mind. The first occurred the day after I had my hysterectomy in September 2019.  I woke up in extreme pain and severe nausea.  The anti-nausea medicine they had given me was not working, and I could not take any pain meds because I was vomiting.  Of course this happened at 6 am when the doctor’s office was not open, so I had to wait for the message to get to the doctor, then wait for the doctor to call in the new prescription, then wait for the pharmacy to open, then wait for my husband to go pick it up. During those horrible hours of waiting in intense pain and misery, I put on praise and worship music. The song I had on repeat was "He Will Carry You" Throughout my tears and anguish, I listened to and sang this song over and over again. Before I knew it, the pain had subsided.  I was able to endure. This song was my pain medicine.  As I was singing to the Lord, focusing on Him as my source of strength and comfort, He faithfully got me through and carried me during those long, painful hours.

The other time occurred during what I now refer to as “The Incident”. My husband and I were taking a long road trip, driving to Wisconsin to visit his mother.  Since I have a hard time sleeping anywhere that is not my own home, and I am prone to anxiety at night, I had been taking CBD gummies to help me sleep.  Well apparently, unbeknownst to me, the brand that I had usually been taken was out of stock. When my husband gave me the substituted ones, the first thing I notice was that the taste was off. I asked him why they tasted weird and he said the other ones were out of stock, but the guy recommended these ones and said they were only a bit stronger.  About an hour later, after I had fallen asleep, I immediately knew something was wrong.  I suddenly woke up from having had a horrible, psychedelic nightmare that consisted of an enormous clown’s face melting.  I instantly jumped up out of bed, and asked my husband “WHAT WAS IN THAT GUMMY??!! As I walked toward him, my legs gave out and I fell, and I couldn’t walk. I was hallucinating, I was acting irrational, I couldn’t speak right, my mind felt out of control, and I was terrified. My husband called his friend, who had a pretty good idea of what might have happened, (the new gummies probably had THC in them) and tried to calm me down. He told me that I would be fine in a few hours, I just had to wait it through.  I tried to go to sleep, but I kept panicking, and I seriously thought I was losing my mind.  I was terrified and felt like I was in a spiritual battle, fighting the enemy for control of my mind.  Words cannot adequately describe the terror I was feeling or the war that was raging in my mind. Finally, I got the presence of mind to pray, so I just kept praying, without ceasing, for what seemed like hours, and singing to myself “Jesus Loves Me”, the children’s hymn. In its simplicity, it was all I could muster in the state that my mind was in at the time, but in its power, I was delivered.  The Lord heard it, and comforted me and allowed me to finally get peace and to fall asleep. I know without a doubt, that Jesus was fighting that battle for me that entire night.  Suffice it to say, I only use Christian music, sermons, and chamomile tea for sleep and anxiety now.

God has used songs just for me to get me through some pretty rough and scary times.  When I am anxious or worried, I put on my power play list. My go to power song is “My Hope Is In You".  That song lifts me up and redirects me to where my mind needs to be: focused on, the only hope out there: Jesus. When I can’t articulate the words, or I am just feeling out of sorts in some kind of way, God ministers to me through song.  When I am angry or upset about something, and I listen and sing praises to Him, I am instantly transformed, and I am in a much better place spiritually and mentally.  God created us with the ability to play an instrument and/or sing, albeit some better than others, of course. But, as my husband likes to say about my singing, it is joyful noise to the Lord, that’s all that matters.  When we sing to the Lord, when we humble ourselves and worship Him in song, He meets us right there, and we are refreshed and renewed in spirit and in mind.  There is no better lifeline than this.


Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation!” – Psalm 95:1