“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 5:18-20 NLT
Paul continues with the thought that being “filled with the Holy Spirit” leads on, in a natural way, to singing. But not any old song. There is no value in worldly songs with their inane lyrics. Paul’s world of song included Psalms and Hymns. Songs of the Spirit. God-songs. There is something about singing spiritual songs that leads to a connection to God. Almost as though spiritual songs are keys that unlock the door into God’s presence, into His zone.
One of the keys to a successful spiritual song, in my opinion, is spontaneity. Singing a well worn hymn can of course be a blessing. There is something special about being in the presence of strong singers belting out “Thine Be the Glory” or “Praise My Soul the King of Heaven”. Or joining with the choirs of the terraces in the hymn “Abide with Me”. But a soulish response is only part of the way into the God-zone. It is far better to allow the infilling of the Holy Spirit to lead to a spiritual response. It might be in our native tongues. But it might too be in the Heavenly language that is ours for the asking (1 Corinthians 14, particularly 14:15). And in the process of aligning our spirits with God something significant happens. I have been in worship services that have continued for an hour or two, lead by the Holy Spirit into Heavenly places, all sense of time abandoned.
How creative are we with “making music to the Lord in [our] hearts”? We probably say we don’t have a clue where to start. But it’s uncanny that repeating a phrase from a Psalm, or some prayer we have made up, can lead on to the development of a melody. Just a simple tune. It may not even be anything original. But before we know it the music welling up in our hearts connects with the Lord. Amazing. And the Author-Composer turns out to be the Holy Spirit, who we have just been filled by.
As pilgrims we must never gloss over this verse written by Paul. He knew all about what he was writing. He too was a pilgrim and I can just imaging him singing his heart out in that prison cell, driving his guards nuts. But he wouldn’t have been bothered by that – he was in the God-zone. And we can join him there, from wherever we are. Or in whatever we are doing.