If you were to ask me to tell you details about particular seasons in my life, one of the first things I would tell you is the songs and hymns I sang during it.
When I was in elementary school, my mom and I would sing Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good as she drove me to school each morning. In junior high and high school, I was all about Our God and Here I Am To Worship and other songs you typically hear on Air1 Radio. And more recently, I could tell you the specific songs and hymns I sang on specific days that changed my life. I sang Rock of Ages, You Will Stand at my freshman orientation chapel, guided by lyrics projected on a PowerPoint screen that I could hardly see through my tear-filled eyes. I sang Good, Good Father when a relationship collapsed and I felt like my life was falling to pieces. I sang It Is Well when I was on the brink of making a decision I knew had the potential to change my life forever. I sang No Longer Slaves as I sat, cross-legged on my living room floor, waiting for medical test results and feeling trapped by fear.
In the striving and breaking…in the mending and waiting…I sang.
Worship remains one of my primary weapons in the battle against anxiety. It has the ability to calm me like nothing else can. I wholeheartedly believe that worry and worship cannot occur simultaneously, so when I need to fight the urge to worry, worship is one of the first things I turn to.
WORSHIP RESETS OUR FOCUS
Anxiety is narrow. It causes us to focus on our own worries as if they’re the only things that matter. When we worship though, our focus is reset. Instead of only seeing our own problems, our eyes are opened to our Mighty God who knows our needs and provides. Worship is a way of living out the words of Psalm 61:2 – “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
SONGS ARE PRAYERS TOO
Whether it’s “Let that grace now, like a fetter, bind my wand’ring heart to Thee” (Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, LSB 686) or “Give me faith to trust what You say, that You’re good and Your love is great” (Give Me Faith by Elevation Worship), I’ve used many hymn verses and song lyrics as prayers. Hymns and songs put our prayers to melodies and when our singing voices rise to the Lord in faith, our prayers do too.
WORSHIP IS WHAT WE WERE CREATED TO DO
1 Chronicles 16:9. Psalm 66:1-2. Psalm 98:1. Jeremiah 20:13. Zephaniah 3:14-17. Ephesians 5:18b-20. These verses and so many more call us, as the people of God, to lift up our voices to Him in song, acknowledging His faithfulness and blessing His holy name.
According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, we were created “to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” Part of glorifying God is praising Him with our lips. Worship is what we were made for. …And that part about enjoyment? I can tell you from personal experience, that the times in my life when I’ve felt the most joyful, content, and fulfilled, have involved worship in some form or another.
John Piper says it best: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. God’s exaltation and our everlasting joy are not at odds. They happen together.” When your joy is little and your anxiety is great, turn to worship. Exalt the Mighty Counselor and Prince of Peace and your heart will find its rest.
TEN SONGS FOR WHEN YOU EXPERIENCE ANXIETY
Be Still, My Soul (Kari Jobe)
Shoulders (for KING & COUNTRY)
It Is Well (Bethel Music & Kristene DiMarco)
Jesus, Thank You (Sovereign Grace Music)
Amazing Grace (LSB 744)
Rest in You (All Sons & Daughters)
One True God (Steven Curtis Chapman)
Whom Shall I Fear? (Chris Tomlin)
10,000 Reasons (Matt Redman)
Doxology (David Crowder Band)