No Notes? Sing a Psalm Anyway!
By Bill Gaultiere
A couple of years ago I did something I’d never done before: I started singing my favorite Psalms to my own tune. I was so surprised at how much this blessed me – lifting my spirit to God, deepening my prayer life, opening up vast new horizons of spiritual insight, and putting a smile on my face!
I discovered that singing a Psalm turns wherever I am – shower, stairwell, car, garden, waiting in line – into a sanctuary of joyful praise to the Lord! And that this is true even when I’m discouraged, anxious, bored, frustrated, or lonely!
To appreciate the significance of my singing of Psalms you need to know that I was very resistant to doing this because I don’t know how to sing properly. I’m someone who sings softly in church and tries to follow the lead of others so that I don’t distract anyone else in their worship. And when I first started singing out loud I felt I had to look around me to make sure that there wasn’t anyone within a hundred yards of me!
Perhaps you understand my struggle with overcoming self-consciousness. My dad does. When he was in sixth grade, his class was preparing to sing Christmas songs as part of a school musical. Everyone was excited to be a part of the Christmas celebration! To prepare for the event, the teacher listened to each child sing. When it was my dad’s turn, he sang out with joy, but the teacher winced and said, “Jim, you need to go into the ‘No Notes’ group!”
“No Notes!” What a denunciation! The “No Notes” group was comprised mostly of the athletes who didn’t make musical notes. They had big muscles and out of tune vocal cords. They didn’t sing – they grunted and growled! So, the teacher told my dad and his friends that, during the Christmas musical, they were to move their mouths and pretend to sing without making any noise. That was the “No Notes” group.
Sadly, my dad got the message that his singing to Christ wasn’t pleasing so he shouldn’t do it. Obviously, Jesus would never do that! He would never downgrade anyone into the “No Notes” group.
I hope you know that “The LORD does not look at the things people look at… He looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). When we sing praise to God, he’s not critiquing our musical ability – he’s listening to our hearts and enjoying the love we express for him (Isaiah 29:13). When we express appreciation and admiration to the Lord, he is blessed by it! It ministers to him!
How did I, a “No Notes” guy, become willing to sing Psalms in front of large groups of people? How did I get over my resistance and self-consciousness? Once I was ridiculed for my poor singing ability, but I was okay with receiving this criticism because I knew that I pleased my Lord. What gave me the courage to dedicate myself to singing Psalms everyday?
Some old words. In 1728 William Law, one of the ancient masters of Devotion to Christ, wrote soul-riveting words that forever changed how I pray the Psalms…
“There is nothing that so clears a way for your prayers, nothing that so disperses dullness of heart, nothing that so purifies the soul from pour and little passions, nothing that so opens heaven or carries your heart so near it as [singing the Psalms]. They create a sense of delight in God; they awaken holy desires; they teach how to ask; and they prevail with God to give. They kindle a holy flame; they turn your heart into an altar; they turn your prayers into incense and carry them as sweet-smelling savor to the throne of grace” (A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, p. 98).
For 3,000 years God’s people have prayed and sung Psalms everyday corporately or privately, going through all 150 Psalms regularly (usually in two months or less) – until recent generations.
Try it. Pray the Psalms. Sing to the Lord! You’ll grow in your prayer life. You’ll connect with Jesus Christ because he’s in each Psalm in prophecy, human experience, and righteousness.
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Reprinted with permission from SoulShepherding.org
Bill Gaultiere, Ph.D. is a Psychologist specializing in “Christian Soul Care” since 1986. Bill and his wife Kristi (a Marriage and Family Therapist) have a donor supported ministry to pastors and leaders called Soul Shepherding. In counseling, spiritual mentoring, seminars, and retreats Bill and Kristi help people to connect deeply with Christ in ways that facilitate soul transformation. To learn more about their ministry, read articles, or sign up to receive the Soul Shepherding Devotion or Soul Shepherding Moments visit SoulShepherding.org. Send your comments to Bill.
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