Friday, June 05, 2015

Raising Voices

When a church sings together, it takes prayer to another level.

Late one night, my phone vibrated on my bedside table. I looked at the clock. It was nearly 11, so I assumed it was bad news. I picked up the phone and saw a text message from one of my lifelong friends.

“After a long bout with sickness, my mother has resigned her failing body,” he said.

That last phrase – resigned her failing body – is from an old hymn by Isaac Watts that we’d recently begun singing at our church. In a moment of crisis and sorrow, the song had given him the ability to speak and express hope.

I, like most of the other recipients of the text, knew the next line of the hymn: “The angels point my way.” His mother had died, but she had not simply disappeared; she’d gone home. His words were more than mere information. They were a sign of hope.

Eugene Peterson once said the primary goal of pastoring was to teach people to pray. I agree, but I might amend his words slightly: to learn to pray, we must learn to sing.

This shouldn’t take any serious student of the Bible by surprise. Music shows up early in the Book of Genesis, and the people of God are seen singing throughout both Testaments, in ordinary places and odd ones: on their way to battle, while chained up in prison, and at the end of the world. I confess, I cringe a little when I hear the Psalms described as the great “prayer book” of the Bible. It’s not that this statement is untrue – the Psalms are certainly prayers – but it is incomplete; the Psalms are first and foremost songs. Keep reading

Photo credit: Pixabay, public domain

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