When we worship through song, are we praying?
On a Sunday morning, and during the rest of our lives, we tend to split different elements up. We have a sermon, a confession etc. But two of these elements are often ‘Prayer’ and ‘Sung Worship’, suggesting that these are two different things. Usually, in such services, these two sections are done very differently – one sitting in silence and one stood up singing as loud as possible (and hoping those fancy stained glass windows don’t smash!), but do these two things have to be so different?
Prayer is communicating with God, so surely singing songs of praise to him fits this description perfectly? When we sing a love song (or any other song really), we are communicating a message – a thought, a feeling, word for word lyrics – to another person. This is communication, so when it is directed at God – is it prayer?
Whilst I was reflecting upon this question, I attended a local youth service (Youth Max at Leigh Park Baptist, check it out it’s fab) and during the closing time of sung worship the song ‘The heart of worship’ was played and really spoke into my thoughts. The lines that specifically jumped out at me were:
“I’ll bring you more than a song, for a song in itself, is not what you have required. You search much deeper within, through the way things appear, you’re looking into my heart.” (www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/michaelwsmith/theheartofworship.html)
In my (somewhat small and fish-filled) mind, this just completely answers this question! We can sing all the songs we want, but God does indeed “search much deeper within” – he knows exactly what is on our minds and is on our hearts; how we think and how we feel.
So yes, I do believe that sung worship is prayer. A wonderful, powerful way of channeling our muddled, complex thoughts into a simple, musical message to God. However, I don’t believe it is necessarily the song that is important.
If we sing songs without thinking about the words, without meaning them wholeheartedly, then this is no longer a prayer. But when we use song to express our thoughts, our feelings, to pour out our hearts to God – then this becomes so much more than a song.