Praying with Music

Come! Let us sing to the Lord
and shout with joy
to the rock who saves us.
Let us approach him
with praise and thanksgiving
and sing joyful songs to the Lord.

Psalm 95:1-2

"Americans spend more money on music than on sex or prescription drugs."
 "There is no known culture now or anytime in the past that lacks [music], and some of the oldest human-made artifacts found at archaeological sites are musical instruments."

Both of these provocative lines come from books written by Dr. Daniel J. Levitin. The first is from his 2006 best seller This Is Your Brain on Music: the Science of a Human Obsession, and the second is from his more recent book (2008), The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature. Once a professional musician, sound engineer, and record producer, Levitin is now a neuroscientist who runs the Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University.

In The World in Six Songs, Levitin explains that when people sing together, the brain releases oxytocin, what Levitin calls a “trust-inducing hormone.” Oxytocin is the same chemical released when a man and a woman create life together, Levitin reminds us. Singing is that dramatic.

When children make music together with the adults who care for them, families grow in trust, joy, appreciation, and attachment with one another. And when families come together to sing in prayer, we strengthen those same bonds with God.

The Bible tells us that Jesus sang: "Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives" (Matthew 26:30). I wonder what hymn Jesus and his disciples sang. Did Jesus lead the singing? What did his voice sound like when he sang? Isn't it marvelous to imagine Jesus singing?!

From ancient times, people have raised their voices in song to pray. Do you sing? Does your family sing? What songs do your children know? Today's installment of our Apostleship of Prayer video series takes a three-minute look at praying with music. Join us! You can watch it here.

Watch "Praying with Music"!

Many teachers and principals have contacted me recently to let me know their students are singing their Morning Offering. I love it!

There are any number of Morning Offering prayers to sing, but this is our favorite.


It fits perfectly to the tune of "Amazing Grace," so give it a try!