When We Have No Words
A couple months ago, I was invited to write for the Conversations Journal blog, which is intended to generate conversations that lead to transformation. I thought I would share one of my posts here, partly to let you know about that blog, and partly to get us to wrestle with this topic here as well.
I believe music—especially worship music based on Scripture—can be one of the most powerful tools God uses to transform our hearts. This becomes especially true when we engage in corporate worship, where we hear other Jesus followers sing from their hearts. But it’s also true when we’re by ourselves.
Music is powerful. But why?
That’s the question I tried to run after in my piece for Conversations Journal. You can read the whole piece for yourself, but here is the critical nugget:
Music is essentially an expression of the heart, so it can help us express our hearts as well. The lyrics can provide words when we have no words, and the sound can provide emotions when we feel numb. (That’s also why the music we choose is really critical.)
When I had no words to pray, and when I didn’t know how to feel toward God, several songs helped me. I found myself saying, “Yes, Lord. What they just sang—that’s how I feel or that’s what I want.” The lyrics of the songs became a platform from which to open my heart in prayer. They drew from my heart emotions I didn’t know were there and desperately needed to express.
I discovered a deep love and longing for God I had forgotten how to feel.
Have you ever listened to a song and something in you connected to the lyrics and you weren’t sure why? Like something was happening in your heart that was deeper than just enjoying good music? Have you ever stopped to think God may be speaking to you in that moment–or perhaps you need to say something to God?
I experience this often with music. In that post, I give an example. At first, I just liked the music. Then, I was drawn in by the lyrics and how I could relate to what they were saying. Over time, God would use different lines in the song to remind me of Scriptures about his love and his desire for me to walk with him. And I would remember ways I had avoided him. Eventually, I began to sing the song myself not just as lyrics but as a prayer from my heart.
I believe we have an opportunity to do this every time we listen to heartfelt music based on the truth of Scripture, and I believe the opportunity is even greater when we worship together.
Music is powerful. It touches something very deep and gives us words to pray. Maybe, just maybe, this is one of the reasons God included 150 ancient Israelite songs in Scripture (the Book of Psalms)—to give us words when we have no words.
What do you think? Do you agree that music is transforming, and if so, why?
Have you ever listened to a song that helped you pray or that moved your heart closer to God in a way that actually changed your behavior or your attitudes or your relationships?