Ever wonder why so many churches even bother with music when most of them are so bad at it? It is just rules or traditions that keep us singing at all our church services? Turns out using music to help you pray is REALLY good for you, no matter what you think of the skills in your community.
Music to help you Pray – Signs you might need more music in your life
Are looking to improve your prayer life, or struggling to keep it alive? Do you feel like you hit a plateau and just don’t know what else to do? Have you started praying out of öbligation”, merely when you “need something”, or stopped all together?
It could be that you are just out of touch or out of practice.
Like anything else, praying is like using a muscle. It be comes stronger the more we use it. And, weaker the more we don’t.
Praying when we are weak, feels hard. It feels unnatural and distant. But, music tears down our defenses and helps us exercise our prayer muscles without even hardly thinking about it. (more on this in a moment)
Why my family loves Christian Music
- We love the fact that it is positive background music. It’s also really great not to have to worry about what the kids will hear on the radio or what they will learn.
- We love that it makes Christ a normal, and fun, part of every day life. Random dance parties while cleaning the kitchen and folding laundry are the BEST! As are insistent requests to turn up songs like “Come to the Table” – Sidewalk Prophets – and “I just need U” – Toby Mac
- We love the great variety of music on Christian Radio stations because it allows our kids to not feel “deprived” when it comes to music (since we only listen to one genre). There is everything from workout music to deeper, more solemn and reflective songs that spur beautiful conversations with our kids. Also, the variety means that anyone can find music that appeals to their taste.
- We also LOVE that so often, no matter how you are feeling, whether it is tired and worn, worried and anxious, or exuberant with joy, the Holy Spirit can often work through the DJ’s to play just what you need to hear at that moment.
BUT MOST OF ALL!!
We LOVE that MUSIC creates for us in our home an ATMOSPHERE of PRAYER.
Praise and worship, glory and honor, encouragement, refuge, solace, need, and desire aren’t just things we experience on Sundays at church!
THIS IS REAL LIFE!!!! We experience our desperate need for God in our lives in EVERY MOMENT of every day.
So, why not pray in every moment??
Pray without ceasing – 1 Thessalonians 5:!7
Music can be our Prayer
I like to describe music as the bridge that has the capacity to span the infamously large gap between the head and the heart.
Melody has a power that gets past our mental defenses, the walls we like to put up. If you think about it in a secular sense, we often listen to music that has seriously objectionable messages, but we like the melody so we make the excuse to listen to it anyway – just “trying not to pay attention to the words”. But, how well does that work? Don’t you ever catch yourself singing along? or hearing your kids repeat phrases you never knew they were paying attention to?
It is the same with Christian music – only in a good way. It tends to permeate everything, even if you don’t realize it is happening. Melodies have a way of commanding a bodily response (toe tapping, head bobbing, etc). They bring to life thoughts, emotions, and concepts that cannot be expressed in words. They have a tendency to get stuck in our heads, and consequentially, in our hearts.
How to use music to help you pray…
Praying with music is NOT passive listening or having it on in the background. It is NOT watching other people sing.
[tweetshareinline tweet=”Prayer is an ACTIVE process in which our goal is to communicate with God.” username=”CarolynMPereira”]
- Choose appropriate music (more advice on this below). Prayerful music is music that is addressed TO GOD (not just “about God” – and certainly not secular).
- Allow yourself to get caught up in the song. Turn up the volume. Pull yourself away from distractions. Lift your hands. Close your eyes. Whatever it takes to focus that moment on being wrapped up in a conversation with the Lord. (You don’t have to do all of the above every time, just focus on what you feel Him calling you to do on that moment). (Read also: How your Prayer Posture affects your Prayer Life)
- Sing along. Make the words of the song your own. Speak them to the Lord with your whole being. Belt them out, or simply stammer them through your tears under your breath.
Have you heard it said: to sing is to pray twice????
This saying exists for MANY reasons, but my favorite is that it takes prayer from a simply mental activity to a full blown, body – soul experience.
Singing is vulnerable. It is almost impossible to do without really making an effort and putting ourselves out there. This is why so many people find it uncomfortable to sing. But, if we cross that barrier, it is possible to find a whole new level of prayer you never knew was possible before. It allows the Lord to enter not just our thoughts but every part of our being.
The Psalms were written to be sung! This is because there are certain parts of the human experience that simply cannot be expressed in words – particularly the intensity of our emotions. This means that when we pray and praise the Lord with not just our words but the entirety of our being we are offering Him more than just our thoughts but everything that we are.
Can you pray with a song even if you don’t know it??
Yes. Maybe you are hearing a song for the first time at Church or on the Radio. It speaks to you but you don’t know the words or the melody very well. This is totally fine! Prayer is based on your intention to pray. It is contingent on your active listening and making the words of the song your own, even if they are currently unfamiliar to you.
Good Christian bands to PRAY with
The groups I am listing here are my family’s personal favorites. The first eight are almost exclusively prayerful, while the others have a pretty good mix of very prayerful music and then some not as much. You will probably have heard of many of these groups but some may not be as familiar. I highly recommend checking out the ones you may not have heard of, especially if you haven’t really tried to pray with music before. It sometimes helps to have a fresh start, especially if you are habitually a passive listener or if certain groups or songs already have “associations” in your head with something other than prayer.
- Bethel Music (Kristine DiMarco, Cory Asbury, Kari Jobe, etc)
- One Sonic Society
- Luke Parker
- Passion (Kristian Stanfill)
- Hillsong United
- Jesus Culture
- Chris Tomlin
- Elevation Worship
- David Crowder Band (Some fantastic songs include: How He Loves and My Victory but not all of his songs are particularly prayerful (ie. his strictly Bluegrass options or one’s like his newest Run, Devil, Run)
- Casting Crowns
- Matthew West, Matt Maher, Jeremy Camp (These artists too have some amazingly prayerful songs, but others that are more just “about God” or other good things, but not so much PRAYER exclusively – more reflections on life, encouragement, etc)
Christian Radio Stations – Free, Constant, Accesible Music to help you Pray
For more variety, look up your local Christian Radio Station: www.christianradio.com/stations or search/create your own on YouTube, Pandora, or Spotify.
You can also get links to all of our family’s favorite playlists organized by topic, in the freebie library. We have made lists for Worship, How to Pray, Surrender, Trust and Waiting on God, Hope and Healing, Self-acceptance, Forgiveness, and many other great topics. Choose whatever topic you are working on now and start listening! Let us know if you have any good song suggestions for those lists and we will add them on!
Everyone is unique. We have unique tastes and are experiencing different life situations. Thus, we will all relate to different music differently. With that in mind, understand that not all of the ideas I have given you in this post may be your favorite. This is just to give you a springboard, a starting point from which to explore your own style.
Please share below: Did I miss any??? What are your favorite songs or bands to listen to when you pray?? What helps you most?
#ParticularlyCALLED #Togetherinthetrenches #IamCALLED