Written by: Candy Goh (Photo by: Ronald Lim)
Lessons from my music fast
I’ve met a few Christians who only listen to Christian music, sometimes with the exception of a couple of secular songs. I’ve never understood this phenomenon as the music playing on the radio seems more up-tempo and funky when contrasted with the simple “power chords” Christian songs. This went on until God started to speak to me about this lie…
“Little do you know I’m still haunted by the memories”
One day, I was listening and singing along to an innocent break-up song by Alex & Sierra. All of a sudden, a wave of fear swept over me. The imagery of demons invaded my thoughts upon declaring the words “haunted by the memories.” It reminded me of a time where I was in spiritual warfare: my leader and some cell-mates were praying over me to sever ties with the occult. I was petrified as I had seen images of the battle going on in my mind.
Through this seemingly inconsequential experience, I found the conviction to review the music I was listening to. I decided to embark on an ambitious 40-day secular music fast. Given that it was my first ever fast, I failed miserably on several occasions. It was simply impossible to hold back the urge to listen to secular music.
Everywhere I went, music from the radio was blasting out of the speakers. Having been unseparated from music all my life, I constantly have songs playing in my head even when I’m not listening to music. It was a real challenge of self-control and discipline in not reaching for the computer or phone.
During the fast, I started to explore Christian music genres and got introduced to radio stations such as Air1 & K-love. It was such a joy to discover Christian artistes across a spectrum of genres. After chancing upon rap music gems such as “Hold On” from Forerunner Music and “Love Is” from Jekob, I started to realise how I had bought into the lie that Christian music was boring!
More importantly, as I looked back on my fast, I came to see how God was teaching me to be alert and of sober mind (1 Peter 5:8a). It caused me to focus on God throughout the day, and this made me more aware of how the enemy plots against us — he is on the prowl for any door left ajar, much like Screwtape. The devil knows our weaknesses and when we are not alert, our lives easily reach a compromise.
I had, unhealthily, made music the priority in my life. Music had interfered in my relationship with God and had put a lid on growing in intimacy because I just couldn’t… listen. The sound of silence created a sense of restlessness in me. How was I to know God more if my heart did not know how to be “still” (Psalm 46:10)?
I came to realise that sometimes the devil plots against us by enticing us with the things we love and cannot let go of. It can be anything, as long we (subconsciously or consciously) place it above our relationship with God.
I found much comfort in English mainstream music, thus exerting a great influence over my life. I not only became increasingly vulgar and loose with my tongue at one point, I began to subconsciously normalise sin. I accepted crass lyrics and felt no resistance against artistes who were marketing their bodies and sex appeal just so that guys will desire to be with them and girls will want to be just like them. I did not think twice about the subliminal messages found in western media, even though they were blatantly selling sex.
Jesus teaches that the words that come out of a person’s mouth first starts in the heart (Matthew 15:18). We therefore need to constantly be on our guard, in choosing what sounds and images enter our holy temples.
It may seem like a simple act, but I firmly believe in this quote:
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Choose your words, for they become actions. Understand your actions, for they become habits. Study your habits, for they will become your character. Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
The direction of our life is charted from the moment we let something into our mind and heart.
While I still listen to secular music today, I try to start my day with worship songs as it helps me to set the tone for the day. Wiping out secular music isn’t for everyone and the last thing we’d want is to do it out of legalism. At the same time, we need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading as He helps us identify what exactly hinders us from upholding a sober mind.
Too often have we placed a focus on not speaking the bad things (Proverbs 18:2). I’ve come to see that instead of avoiding the negative, we can also declare and decree the good things in our lives! The Lord has promised good to us. When we proclaim His promises, we are allowing these eternal truths to enter and sink into our lives, cleansing the melodic filth that penetrate our minds on a daily basis.