By Ruth DuCharme

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, October 21, 2016

When the Israelites were captives in Babylon far away from their home, they asked this question, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” Far from their home and their temple, they were exiles and slaves with no heart or spirit to sing the songs of Zion. It’s not that it would be irreverent to sing those songs outside of their homeland; it was more likely that the song felt misplaced because they were misplaced and their hearts were heavy with grief.

There are times in our lives when the state of our heart is such that joy and enthusiasm are appropriate. At other times we are so weighed down with sadness that our hearts are too burdened to sing our song, and at other times our song becomes our prayer. It becomes the only means by which we can voice our hope and our plea.

I thought about that as our choir sang this past Sunday morning. I I thought about that as our choir sang this past Sunday morning. I was personally feeling the weight of a busy week, punctuated by the headlines of the day and the difficulties that I know many friends are facing. How can I sing the Lord’s song when I am in a strange land or when life just seems foreign? We began to sing, “Lord, listen to your children praying. Lord, send your spirit in this place. Lord, listen to your children praying. Send us love. Send us power. Send us grace.”

The more we sang, the more that song became a prayer of the heart. There was power in voices that were united in harmony and rhythm. There was power in the facial expressions from the congregation as you expressed agreement with that prayer. There was power in knowing that as we lifted our prayer, God was listening. Jake said it in his sermon when he quoted C.S. Lewis, “Prayer doesn’t change God. Prayer changes us.”

That prayer changed me. It gave me hope, and it gave me the desire to pray more. Like the people of Israel, we are often held captive. We are held captive to our circumstances, to our egos, to our schedules, to our health, and to so many other demands. When we feel that weight of spirit, let’s commit ourselves to pray —to call upon God—to sing our song with assurance that God is listening to God’s children, and that love, power, and grace are ours if we only ask.