I grew up in church singing songs of praise and worship every week. Each Sunday, I would hear my Dad, Mom, brothers, and all of our other friends in church singing these songs of faith. Some of them were really good singers, and some of them not so much, but the point was: Everybody was singing to Jesus together.
So why do we do this as a church?
First, because God tells us to sing praises time and again through the Psalmists and the Apostles! But why is that? Here are some reasons:
- We do this to express praise and thanks to God. (Ephesians 5:19-20) If we feel gratitude or awe towards someone, the experience isn’t complete until we express that to them—so we do that towards the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—who is worthy of all praise and thanks!
- We do this to teach, encourage, and admonish each other. (Colossians 3:16) When we sing together of who God is, we hear and experience who He is, and we are taught and encouraged.
- The Spirit works through it to build faith in us. As we proclaim who God is and what He has done through our whole bodies (literally—our whole body can be involved in singing), I believe the Holy Spirit works through that to help us trust that He is who we are proclaiming Him to be.
- The Spirit works through it to transform our desire. As we see who God is through these songs that we are singing, I believe the Holy Spirit works to help us come to desire and love Him more than anything else!
But one last question remains: Why does God tell us to sing praise, and not simply to speak it? It does seem like for all the reasons listed above, our whole self needs to be involved in the process, not just our minds. We need to be completely engaged—body, mind, emotions, spirit—everything. I believe that is why we are commanded to sing and not just speak and that is also why the musicians in the Bible are told to play skillfully! Singing involves our whole selves (if we throw ourselves into it), and music that is led skillfully (in a way that we connect with) is a way to invite our whole selves into that.
So we sing, to involve our whole selves in expressing praise, admonishing each other, building faith, and transforming desire. When we gather on Sunday to do that, let’s throw our whole selves into the singing (whether we are a good singer or not) to the glory of God!