The Underappreciated Role of Water in Caring for the Preaching Voice
2006 Nelsons Annual Preachers Sourcebook
2006 Nelsons Annual Preachers Sourcebook
Jesus Christ walked on a body of water, but the rest of us are walking bodies of water. The human body is approximately two-thirds water; and if you don’t believe it, just consider this odd little fact. The ashes of the average cremated person—who is totally dehydrated, of course—weigh nine pounds, about the same as when he or she was born. Or, to employ another bit of useless trivia, the average person produces twenty-five thousand quarts of spit in a lifetime. That’s enough to fill two large swimming pools.
We drink approximately sixteen thousand gallons of water during the course of a lifetime, and water is involved in virtually every function of the body. It transports nutrients and waste products into and out of cells. It is instrumental in the digestive, absorption, circulatory, and excretory functions. It is at the heart of the body’s “climate control” system, layering the body with a coat of sweat when it’s in danger of overheating.
Nutritionists tell us, in fact, that it is almost impossible to drink too much water.
Preachers need to drink a little more that most people. Here’s why. Water lubricates the lungs, larynx, esophagus, throat, mouth, tongue, and lips—all the bodily parts involved in generating and projecting speech. Our vocal cords are surrounded by a mucous membrane that needs to stay wet and fluid if our voices are going to work properly.
It’s just like oil in your car’s engine. You wouldn’t want to drive your vehicle if your oil was low; neither do you want to speak if your body is dehydrated. It’s exactly the same.
Don’t think, however, that you can solve the problem by chugging a bottle of water just before preaching. Remember that there are two tubes descending into your body from your mouth. One sends food into your stomach, and the other sends air into your lungs. That’s why we sometimes choke on a drink and spew it across the table; it goes down the wrong pipe. To benefit your voice, the water has to go into your stomach, work its way through your digestive system, and have enough time to make the return trip to properly hydrate your voice.
That’s why on Sunday mornings, preachers should drink a glass of water the moment they get up. It takes approximately four hours for the water we drink to return to our vocal cords in the form of lubricating phlegm.
Professional musicians know that the two most important things they can give their singing voices are sleep and water. Without proper rest, a singer’s voice becomes cranky and uncooperative. Without water, it becomes stiff and raspy.
If you’re like me, you take your water in the form of coffee—which is counterproductive. Dark beverages take longer for the body to process, and the caffeine serves as a diuretic that actually exacerbates the hydration problem.
The answer is to figure out ways of getting more pure water into your system. So go ahead and buy those cases of drinking water at the grocery store. I hate paying for something I can get for free out of my tap, but I’ll have to admit I drink more water when I have a bottle of it sitting on my desk. And your desk is a good place for it; not the refrigerator. Experts recommend drinking water at room temperature, since cold water tends to make the vocal cords tense up. Just think how your body feels when you jump into a pool of cold water.
One of the best ideas I’ve come up with is to start drinking water (without lemon) when I eat at restaurants. This habit saves me enough money to pay for all my bottled water! Here are some other ideas:
Drink a glass of water after brushing your teeth three times a day.
Never pass a drinking fountain without stopping for a few slurps.
Except for your wake-up coffee in the morning, switch to decaffeinated drinks. I’m even having my afternoon cup of Earl Gray in decaffeinated form, and it doesn’t bother me a bit.
Buy sports beverages when they’re on sale, and take one with you to the gym each day. Exercise is important, but it’s also a significant drainer of the body’s water reserves.
Now lay down this book and go have yourself a good drink of water.