Singing And Praying

Sunday, May 1, 2022
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "My Jesus I Love Thee"1 (Lyrics)

One day, we were watching a religious program on television, and the commentator mentioned that in worship, singing is praying. St. Augustine, who lived from 345 to 430 AD, is credited with saying, "To sing is to pray twice." In a commentary on Psalm 72, he wrote, "Whoever sings a praise, not only praises, but only praises with gladness. He that sings praise, not only sings, but also loves Him of Whom he sings."

For more than 25 years, I led Bible discussions at the local long-term care centre. I often found that it was difficult to have a dialogue with the residents, and there were only a few people who were able and willing to discuss the passages and the stories that we looked at, although they had some great insights, and I learned a lot from them. But when it came to singing hymns at the worship services, I was amazed at the way that they sang. So many of them knew the words from memory, and together, we expressed the love of God for us, our love for Him, and our faith in Jesus as Saviour and Lord through the hymns that we sang. It was something that they had learned decades before, and for them, it was as if the hymns were prayers.

Paul and Silas learned about the power of praying and singing hymns in Philippi, where they were arrested, beaten severely, and thrown into the inner prison, with their feet in stocks. In all their distress, pain, and agony, they were still able to pray and sing hymns.

Acts 16:25-26 – But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed. (NKJV)

In the ensuing commotion, the jailkeeper and his whole family believed in Jesus and were baptized.

Many of the old hymns contain words of prayer, and many are little sermons, as well as expressions of faith in Jesus as Saviour and Lord.

    My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
    For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
    My gracious Redeemer, my Saviour art Thou;
    If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.
           – William R. Featherston (1848-1875)

When we sing in church or wherever we are, may the words of the hymns speak to our hearts. Just remember, to sing is to pray twice!

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we thank You for the authors of the many hymns which express our faith and give us such enjoyment and peace in our hearts. We offer this prayer in Jesus' name. Amen.

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About the author:

Joel Jongkind <>
Meaford, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you.

    Thanks for sharing, Joel.

    Love this message. So true.

    So true Joel! And I would add packed with theology. Blessings.

    Helps me today, Joel.
    Thank you.

    This was such a blessing.

    Thank you for sharing this encouraging devotional with us! Blessings.

    A great way to think about singing praise, Joel!
    Thanks for the insight and God bless!

    Dear Joel,
    Music is truly prayer from the soul. Thank you for your writing.

    A lovely thought. Thank you, Joel.
    Be blessed.

    Thanks for today’s devotion. I totally agree. I use songs of praise in my morning devotion time every day to praise God. Blessings.

    Thanks, Joel. I love the old hymns, and, like the residents, my brain has absorbed them over the years, so they play like tapes in my mind.

    Thank you for your encouraging words. I work in agriculture and often sing when I am scouting fields. I feel close to God when I am singing.

    Joel, thank you for these devotional thoughts. I just read this before going to worship today. I will sing with the reminder of “praying twice”.
    Blessings on your day.

    Joel – singing is such a valuable way to hide God’s word in our hearts; those mini-sermons last even though other memories fade.
    May you and your wife continue to be strengthened as you follow the path Christ lays out for you.

    Thanks for a good word, Joel. I found the same thing in my chaplaincy work. Even those with Alzheimer’s would suddenly join in a hymn and sing their hearts out. It was amazing and brought me hope amidst what was often a very depressing scene.

    Joel, I rejoice and give thanks for your continued inspiration, and pray that your health situation is stabilized and improved. It is a joy to read your meditations. I love the hymns and the expression of God’s love for us and our adoration in return. Praise songs, for me, do not hold the same meaning, but I am thankful that it might for others.

    Thanks brother Joel. Good as usual. I’m sure you have read/heard of the observation asking what will the “praise and worship “ (as though what we were doing was not that?!) generation sing in the rest homes?
    7/11 songs won’t be same.

    Greetings Joel and many thanks for another of your very meaningful devotionals. Over the years I have assisted in Gospel services at Nursing homes and I too was always amazed at how the residents could sing out the hymns with such great zest and memory of the words. Singing is truly a beautiful way of praising our ever-present Lord. Blessings as you continue to do these very special writings.

    Thank you for today’s hymn, “My Jesus, I love Thee”. I love the hymns. I always say they are the “sermon before the sermon”. I love that, as you listen, the lyrics bring those verses referred to mind. Whole stories unfold in the “hymn sermons”. What a great hymn. Thank you for this great reminder. Tomorrow is my spiritual birthday. This hymn has brought that whole experience at the altar to mind vividly. Much appreciated, many thanks, and praise be to God always.

    Thank you again Joel for a wonderful devotional. The past two plus years of forced abstention from singing has been cruel and even now, in our church anyway, masks are still used during the service severely curtailing how lustily we can sing. Even though plexiglass barriers were put in place and masks enforced we have still benefited from a superb organist/choir director who has managed, with the help of his talented family, to provide beautiful music for our services. But it is when we can sing ourselves that we experience the most satisfaction and closeness with God.

    Hi Joel,
    I really enjoyed today’s devotional. What a great thought – “to sing is to pray twice”! I’ve been singing church music for many years, all my life really, and often it has brought me to awareness of the presence of God. It lifts me to another realm in a unique way and I’m never more spiritually alive than when I sing His praises, whether it be thanksgiving, confession, petition, or even lament.
    Thank you so much for bringing this message today. I hope you’re feeling well and send you every blessing in the Lord.

    Dear Joel,
    I totally agree with St. Augustine and totally understand that it is difficult for some people to discuss passages. I share comments on devotionals almost every day to a group of friends and only hear back from a few, but I know that others do appreciate it. Once in a while I will hear them say something and I feel it came from a devotional.
    My lovely sister-in-law got dementia and it took all her words away, but she could still sing hymns and songs that she knew. They must be stored in a different place in the brain, and it was so wonderful for us to be able to share that with her for more years. Her husband learned to play the ukulele so he could play the tune and sing along with her as well as playing them on the iPad. It was lovely to watch them, and she was always smiling at that time.
    Thank you for sharing from your faith journey, inspiring all of us to know we are praying twice when we are singing to the Lord. Blessings.

    Good morning, Joel
    When I received your message this morning it brought back a memory I will never forget. After joining a barbershop chorus we did what our group called a carol crawl. This was first time for me to participate. When we arrived, we were taken to the area with patients with severe dementia. My first reaction was why wouldn’t we be singing for others. When the singing was over, I knew why.
    These people responded beyond my greatest thoughts. When we sang O Holy Night their minds were tuned in to what we were singing. When we sang Jingle Bells some appeared to be driving the team once again.
    For an hour they were tuned in to us. When we left only a few clapped but our chorus new the joy we had brought this group.
    I never questioned why we sang to them again.
    God bless you.

    Thank you for your message this morning. It hit a chord, no pun intended, in my soul. I have never thought of our singing to be prayers!
    I was just telling my sister, that we as Christians are encouraged to read our bibles every day, do devotionals, be silent and spend time with God. I have ADD and so I have always strived to do those things, and did, but it never lasted for more than a week. I’ve always felt guilty that I couldn’t. I’ve realized that it’s not for everyone, we are all different. But I love, love to sing praises to my God. Those songs or hymns are a balm to my soul, and to now read that they are prayers as well! God is good, all the time.
    Our mom was in a care home for several years. She was mostly deaf and could hardly see. But when she went to the weekly services, her face would light up, with God’s glorious joy. Her face would shine, she’d lift up her hands! Oh my, what a perfect, wonderful memory and legacy!
    Thank you for writing this because you certainly blessed me this morning!

    Thank you, Joel, for this lovely devotional. I still love all the old hymns I learned in Sunday School and my days when younger in my Presbyterian Church Choir. I was not a great singer, but managed to blend in with other voices, alas I am pushing 90 now, and those days are gone. However I am thankful for the blessed memories, and still remember the old hymns. One of my old favourites “The Old Rugged Cross”, was also my mother’s favourite, and whenever I hear it, it not only reminds me of what my Saviour did for me but brings back good memories of Mom. I also like the hymn featured with today’s devotional. I remember the hymn “We are Climbing Jacob’s ladder, soldiers of the cross, walking home from Sunday School. (not sure if that is the exact title), but I remember looking at my lovely Sunday School Paper we used to get and I would be looking at that story and wondering in my young mind, “how on earth does God talk to people, how does that happen? Well it was many years later that and many experiences later, both good and bad before I learned that the Holy Spirit is with us and that is our connection. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, such a blessing for us. When I was in the depths of despair, He spoke to me and said, “Behold I will never leave you nor forsake you”, and I heard this very clearly and I know he keeps his promises.
    God Bless You.

    Thank you for sharing about the significance of the hymns. It is amazing how the words can be expressions of our faith and desires of our hearts. We can be thankful for our heritage that has helped us to recall and reflect. Thank you for your insights and appreciation of our hymns. Blessings.

    Thank you, Joel. I absolutely love praise through music. Reaches your soul.

    Hello Joel,
    Thank you for sharing this story of praise. Once in-church worship reopened, but without singing yet, many parishioners exclaimed “if I can’t sing, I’m not coming”. Singing is truly praying. I have noticed, the more we are allowed to sing as a congregation, the more parishioners started to return to in-church worship and the amount of people viewing via live-streamed YouTube has declined.
    Something to think about.
    God bless,

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