I know I’ve written before about my walking prayers, those times when I just pick a direction and talk to God as I travel, but now I’d like to share what happens after. You see, once I’ve finished praying, I take a moment to let the silence settle in, then I pull out my iPod and flip to a very special collection of songs. I call it my Prayer Playlist; over 20 songs by Christian artists that help me meditate on God and consider the words I’ve been speaking. The list is very diverse, but I’d like to take this opportunity to share a few of my favorite songs and what they’ve meant to me over the years. Here are ten selections from my Prayer Playlist.
Michael W. Smith – Missing Person
It’s ironic, but as a child I listened to Missing Person because I liked the melody. Now that I’m an adult, I listen to it for the words. In this song, Michael W. Smith ponders how many Christians start their lives with an intense passion for Christ, but as time passes, their faith eventually turns cold. For me, Missing Person is a reminder that faith takes perseverance. To find God, I need to seek Him first.
Brandon Heath - Jesus in Disguise
Henri Nouwen once wrote, “The greater part of God’s work in the world may go unnoticed.” In a sense, this is why I like Jesus In Disguise. The song is all about how Jesus works through the small things of life, those overlooked moments when the Holy Spirit gives you that nudge in the right direction. Brandon Heath goes on to encourage listeners to open their eyes and be watchful for God. Otherwise, we may never recognize Him when He arrives.
Mandisa – Overcomer
I have an affinity for sad music, so it’s important for me to add something happy to the mix whenever I start a walking prayer. It needs to be a song that’s uplifting, encouraging, and so completely the-sun-will-rise-tomorrow explosive that I can’t help but smile at the end. Overcomer, by Mandisa, manages to hit all of those notes. With a catchy tune and positive lyrics, Overcomer practically dances with the message that we can do all things through Him who gives us strength. The Lord is our salvation, and we will always overcome.
Casting Crowns – Set Me Free
Casting Crowns dominate a good chunk of my iPod’s memory, and if I hadn’t implemented a “one song per band” rule, they could have easily monopolized this list. These Christian juggernauts have produced many powerful songs, but Set Me Free is perhaps my favorite. Based around the story of the demon possessed man in Matthew 8, Set Me Free is a harsh, gritty anthem that cuts deep to the heart of scripture. It’s a song that revels in the raw glory of God, and each time I hear it I can’t help but be struck with awe for our Savior. Whenever I pray, it’s important to remember who I’m praying to.
Rebecca St. James – God of Wonders
God of Wonders is a song that’s been covered by almost every Christian artist on the planet, but something about Rebecca St. James’ rendition sets it apart for me. If I had to guess why, I’d say it was the joy she put into the song. Like many Christians, I come before God when I’m stressed, afraid, thankful, or uncertain. Rarely do I take the time to worship God when I pray. God of Wonders helps me take a step back and embrace the joy that comes with being a child of God.
MercyMe – Bless Me Indeed (Jabez’s Song)
Like Casting Crowns, MercyMe is a great Christian band with a number of strong songs that could have made this list. In the end though, Bless Me Indeed was the one I chose for their entry. Drawing on the prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4, vocalist Bart Millard petitions God to bless him and expand his horizons. If you’re like me, you may feel selfish asking God for something when He’s already given you so much. Yet that’s the beauty of Jabez’s song, there’s no sin in asking for God’s blessing when it comes from a genuine heart.
Ginny Owens – If You Want Me To
Earlier I said I liked sad music, and there is perhaps no song more heartbreaking than If You Want Me To by Ginny Owens. A low, mournful hymn, If You Want Me To finds Owens reflecting on the many struggles Christians endure during their walk with Christ. Beneath all the sorrow however, lies a beautiful message of hope. Now, I’ve been through some rough spots in my life, and I’ve made my share of mistakes to, but I now know that God has never left my side for a single moment. This song is for all the people walking the razor edge of faith: remember that you never walk alone.
Britt Nichole – Gold
Gold is a horribly cheesy pop-anthem that no sane person would ever confess to liking in a million years, yet somehow it found a way onto my iPod. I think it’s because I occasionally volunteer in my Church’s Sunday school, and the more I’ve gotten to know these kids, the more I’ve started to worry. Right now they’re protected; innocence and Christian community have kept them safe from a harsh world. Still, they will grow up eventually, and one day reality and all its troubles will come crashing in. If I take anything from Gold, it’s that all children should know that no matter what the world says, in God’s eyes they are priceless.
Tenth Avenue North – Losing
I’ve said this before, but I have a real problem with holding grudges. It doesn’t help that, for all our talk of love, Christians can be remarkably cruel. With this mindset, it’s easy to fall into an “Us vs. Them” mentality, but Tenth Avenue North’s Losing utterly destroys such self-righteous delusions. Losing doesn’t try to take a side, but instead takes a lesson from Matthew 7:5 and acknowledges that we all have planks in our eyes. I’d like to recommend this song to anyone who’s been nursing a grievance or clinging to hate, because without forgiveness we are the ones who lose in the end.
For King and Country – The Proof of Your Love
The last song on this list may be the most important. Over the years, I’ve watched the Church try to change the world through different methods. We tried through missions, we tried through culture, we tried through policy, but all we did was increase the gap between us and those we hoped to reach. For King and Country helped me understand why this happened; we had forgotten how to love.The Proof of Your Love reveals that it doesn’t matter how well we argue or how talented we become, if we do not love, it’s all for nothing.
Our lives must be the proof of Christ’s love.
What about you? What are some songs that draw you closer to God?