Sing to the Lord!

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:18

I grew up singing lots of wonderful songs in church, Sunday School, and youth group: “Jesus loves me, this I know … Deep and wide, deep and wide … Trust and obey, for there’s no other way … On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross … The Church’s one foundation, is Jesus Christ her Lord … Then sings my soul, my Savior, God, to Thee, how great Thou art … It only takes a spark, to get a fire going … In the stars His handiwork I see … We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord …” I had a deep appreciation for the music of worship that allowed me to express my faith with joy and gratitude.

But, during my boyhood years, I never really experienced what it was like to sing to the Lord. I’m not saying that God didn’t hear my songs or was not honored by them. He surely received them as worship. But I rarely, if ever, sang with God as the audience for my adoration. Part of the reason for this was that so many of my favorite worship songs addressed people, not God directly. I sang, “Jesus loves me,” not “Jesus, you love me.” But, even when the lyrics of a hymn did address the Lord, it really didn’t occur to me that I was actually singing to him.

All of this changed when I went to college. I became involved in a small Pentecostal church. Though some of the worship expressions in our fellowship made me uncomfortable, I did discover what it was like to sing to God. We’d begin by singing “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. He has done great things …” Soon, our worship leader would lead us to sing, “You have done great things, … Bless your holy name.” For the first time in my life, I was intentionally and wholeheartedly singing to God. This transformed my relationship with God and deepened my love, not just for the Lord, but also for worship.

I was so struck by the wonder of singing to God that, for a while, I became critical of songs that did not address him directly. Why, for Heaven’s sake, did we sing “A mighty fortress is our God” when we could have sung, “A mighty fortress are you, O God”? My zeal for singing to God limited my appreciation for the diverse genres, actions, and purposes of worship. I would have been well served if I had studied Ephesians 5:19. This verse teaches us to “sing and make music … to the Lord.” But it also encourages us to speak to each other in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. If we are always singing to each other, we miss out on something essential in worship. And if we’re only singing to God, we’re also missing out on something God intends for us.

I continue to love psalms, hymns, and songs that help me to sing to the Lord directly. But, as I have grown in my faith, I have also learned how I can sing to the Lord even if the lyrics of a song don’t address him explicitly. When I incline to open my heart to God and incline my attention in his direction, I can sing to him even when saying, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” As my lips sing these words, my heart says, “How amazing is your grace, Lord. You saved a wretch like me!”

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you have favorite psalms, hymns, or songs that address God directly? Do you have favorites that speak to the people gathered for worship? What helps you turn your heart to the Lord in worship? What helps you to live your whole life as worship to God?

PRAYER: Gracious God, I thank you for the songs and hymns that have filled my worship and shaped my relationship with you. Thank you for those that have instructed and encouraged me. Thank you for those that have given me words to share with you.

No matter what I am singing, no matter what I am saying, no matter what I am thinking, no matter what I am doing, may I offer all that I am and all that I do to you. May I learn to worship you all the time with heart, soul, mind, and strength. Oh, may this happen today, Lord! Amen.


P. S. from Mark: I am very excited to tell you about a new book Called: The Crisis and Promise of Following Jesus Today by Mark Labberton, the President of Fuller Seminary. Several months ago, I had the opportunity to meet with the author in person to discuss his ideas and film short videos. I hope you’ll take a moment to read some of our newly connected resources on Calling below.


Mark Roberts is the Executive Director of Digital Media and the Theological and Cultural Steward for Foundations for Laity Renewal. He is the author of eight books, including No Holds Barred: Wrestling with God in Prayer. He lives in Boerne, Texas, with his wife, Linda. Their children spend most of the year away at college on the East Coast. Send a note to Mark.

Called: The Crisis and Promise of Following Jesus Today

Last month, Mark Labberton, the president of Fuller Seminary and our personal friend published an incredibly important new book, Called. Mark Roberts, primary author of our Daily Reflections, felt so strongly about the book that he commissioned several videos to help bring Labberton’s ideas to as many people as possible. Marcus Goodyear, editor of The High Calling, has said plainly, “If you read The High Calling, you must read Mark Labberton’s new book.”

Learn more about the ideas of this new book in our newest collection of videos and related content on Mark Labberton’s book Called, as well as some of our most significant articles on calling, including this one hand selected by our editorial staff to be part of this collection.

Featured image by Patricia Hunter. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.