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Is Singing as Important as Praying?

I honestly admit that I am not the greatest student of the Bible. I tend to look at things for what they are, and through prayer, question only the things that send up red flags. I was doing a word search last week and decided to see how many times certain words appeared in my NIV Bible. It’s hard to say if the number of times it is used coincides with the importance of the act or meaning, but I did it anyway. I entered the word worship and ran it…it was found 158 times. I entered praise and ran it…it was found 340 times. I entered love and ran it as well, mainly to check for my own interest… 551 times. These words must be important if they are used that many times.

From there, I entered the two words that I was most interested in. The first was pray…121 times. Next, I entered sing…122 times. Imagine that! For some reason, the word sing is mentioned more times than pray. They are both things we do, and they are not used in the past tense or to tell a story. These words are verbs—actions that we do. Why, you ask, would I look up these two words?

Christians understand prayer. For the most part, they don’t just understand it; they practice it. If you asked a Christian if they pray, their answer will most likely be affirmative. If you ask a Christian if they sing to the Lord, you will get a host of answers from “sometimes” to “all the time” to “never” to “I can’t sing.” If you ask Christians which is more important, the answer will most likely be prayer. Why? Because it is the act that we have been taught for years. We are taught to pray from the time we become new Christians. For some of us, we are taught to pray before we even become Christians as part of our bedtime activities or when a crisis hits our lives.

Prayer is good, as it is a necessary element for the Christian to communicate with the Lord. We take our pleas and requests to Him, and we pray for our lost friends and families. The Bible tells us to pray at all times…to pray without ceasing. We cannot eliminate prayer from our lives and expect to know God more. We cannot live from day to day without coming to Him in quiet meditation. Prayer is one of the foundations that a believer must base his faith upon. If we are to truly know God and build a relationship with Him, prayer must be a vital part of our lives.

Why is it that not all people sing? How is it that people come to church week in and week out and never once lift their voice in song? Isn’t singing a part of our worship expression to God? Is singing only for the talented? I have personally served in and attended churches where people would not sing. It was as if they were refusing to sing when others were worshiping. If you hold the belief that the word sing is mentioned so many times in the Bible because it is an important act, then how can someone go through life without practicing it in worship? These same people will sing to the radio in their cars and yet will not sing during the corporate worship time. Why is that? Is it education? Is it a lack of knowledge of the Bible? 

I don’t believe that singing is more important than prayer because it is mentioned one more time. I do believe that it is equally important. When I sing, I am offering my worship to the Lord. I am using one of the most powerful tools that has the ability to touch the emotions of people, and I believe God. Music has always been a powerful instrument in the Bible. Walls fell down when instruments were played. We cannot deny the power of music on the human level, as well as to Christians. You don’t even have to ask a lost person if they like music or if it moves them; the billions of dollars spent on it annually speaks for itself. Lost people sing, too. They do not sing because they are talented, but because it is enjoyable and it makes them feel good.

The believer that refuses to sing, for whatever reason, is missing out on a great treasure in their worship experience. They are, in a sense, being disobedient to God. You can’t sing unto the Lord a new song until you first sing unto the Lord a song. Some may say that David was only saying what he felt. While that is true, if the Bible is the inspired word of God, then it is from God. Revelation 5:13 says, “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!'” There is singing in heaven even now and will be for all time. How important is singing, you ask? When we get to heaven, we will not pray any longer. We will not preach or share the gospel any longer. We will sing, however. We will sit around the throne of God and sing, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!

We need to teach those who think singing is a waste of time in our services. We need to help them see that singing is very important to God and needs to be a large part of our worship experience. How we do it will vary, but the need is there. Don’t let people miss out on singing, going through life without singing to the Lord. We need to teach that it’s not the quality of the voice, but the clarity of the heart that God looks at. Keep in mind that leadership in music and worship needs to be lead by gifted, called people. But singing to the Lord is for everyone.

Does singing = praying? It doesn’t matter. There is clear support for both in the Bible, and both deserve attention in our teaching and preaching. Both need to be practiced by those of us who call ourselves Christians. It won’t happen overnight, but with prayer and patience, God will move the hearts of those who need to grow in this area, if we are faithful to lead and pray.    

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Stephen M. Newman is the author of Experiencing Worship, A Study of Biblical Worship, and Founder & Editor of ExperiencingWorship.com. Steve currently serves as Pastor of Worship, McKinney Memorial Bible Church, Fort Worth, Texas. Steve has extensive experience in both traditional and contemporary worship styles and has been serving in music and worship capacities since 1982. Steve earned a Bachelor of Music degree with emphasis in Church Music from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1986. He has also earned Master's of Worship Ministry and Doctorate of Worship Ministry from Christian Leadership Seminary, Elma, New York. Used by permission of ExperiencingWorship.