Music is the key that opens our hearts and mouths in this important part of prayer.
Most people—even the prayingest among us—spend their time making requests of God or giving thanks. But for some reason, praise is often a neglected component. Maybe it’s because our needs seem so pressing. Or it could be that we’re more experienced in offering gratitude than praise (how many times did our parents tell us to “say thank you” while hardly ever telling us to “say Glory to God?”). Or maybe it’s because we don’t sing enough.
One of the best ways to offer praise to God is through song. Sure, there are times, like when we see a glorious sunset or a beautiful horse galloping across a field that we cry out in spontaneous praise to God. Most of the time, however, music is the key that opens our hearts and mouths in praise to God. That is why the ancient psalmist sang:
Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power
that your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you,
they sing the praises of your name” (Psalm 661-4, NIV).
The Bible actually tells you not only to speak but also to sing your praises to God. So here are a few ways to do that:
1. Grab an old hymnal.
Many churches have stopped using hymnals but that doesn’t mean you have to. Many can be found in church basements, used bookstores or yard sales. And they are rich in words of praise that can still be sung as loudly and sincerely as ever.
2. Adopt several hymns and praise songs as “go to” prayers.
If I asked you to sing your praise to God right now, what song would come to mind? “How Great is Our God?” “O Worship the King, All Glorious Above?” “How Great Thou Art?” “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise?” Keep a short list in your mind or in your Bible that you can turn to often for a few moments of heartfelt praise.
3. Adapt a few psalms.
Some Bible psalms can be sung too. You may know Psalm 23 as “The King of Love My Shepherd Is,” Psalm 100 as “The Doxology” and Psalm 103 as “Bless the Lord, O My Soul.” Such musical settings of Biblical psalms can help you sing your praise to God.
4. Sing a new song.
I’ve posted previously about singing a new song to God in prayer. You may sometimes feel a height of wonder or depth of awe that cannot be expressed except in a new, original song that springs from your soul, heart and mouth simultaneously. It doesn’t matter if it’s not a “good” melody or a particularly clever lyric; all that matters is that it helps you to express what is rising up from within you, producing “a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God” (Psalm 41:3, NIV).
5. Drop in on a praising church.
Some churches sing more than others, and some are especially good at songs and hymns of praise. If the church you attend regularly is not that kind of church, you might consider visiting another church every once in a while in order to sing your praise to God. Many Mennonite churches are known for their singing (and harmonizing), as are many National Baptist Churches, among others. Not all singing is praise, of course, so it will take some discernment and possibly trial and error, but there are still many churches that sing enthusiastic (and sometimes even tuneful) praise to God.
These aren’t the only ways to sing your praise to God, but try just one or two of these, and your praying will soon be music to God’s ears.