We can think about prayer in a similar way as listening to music. If it’s something we find appealing, then it is very easy to listen to music. I once had a life goal to always be listening to music - to go straight from listening in the car to popping in headphones and allowing my soundtrack to accompany me on my way to my college classes.
I was pretty successful in this endeavor as I was into a variety of different genres including rock, hip-hop, pop, classic country, pop, and R&B. My days were filled with a lot to listen to!
It’s interesting to me that, while I grew out of this musical endeavor, my desire to encounter God and offer Him my heart in prayer is very similar. Instead of constantly listening to music, I want to pray without ceasing. And just like my iPod back in 2006, with God, there is always something to listen to!
My favorite movie of all time is The Sound of Music. For those of you who are wondering, yes, I do think it’s even better than Die Hard 2: Die Harder. Both are good, but The Sound of Music happens to have the most incredible scene of all time.
Okay, part of that was a joke, but moving on.
In The Sound of Music, Captain Von Trapp, a father of seven is embittered after his wife dies and spirals into a life of selfishness. His children suffer greatly because of it. Maria, the new nanny shows up and teaches the children to listen to music and make music of their own.
The beautiful scene that I absolutely love is when the Captain reaches the apex of his anger with the Maria upon learning she allows his children to sing and play.
While he is outside yelling at Maria, the kids start to sing inside the house. The Captain specifically did not like to hear music, as his wife loved it while she was alive. The sound is shocking to him at first, but he slowly welcomes it and it uplifts his heart. He even joins in with the children’s song, shocking them as well. Thus, the rest of the movie is incredible.
God’s music is always playing. We cannot let the bitterness we sometimes encounter in life keep us from hearing it. We need to look for it, listen for it, join in singing and help others hear it as well.
Prayer is turning your attention to God, much like we do when we turn on the radio to hear a good song. We allow the appealing melody to draw our attention to the sounds and words that speak deeply to our emotions and experiences. God can and will do the same, if we seek Him in prayer.
Sometimes we fall into the error of thinking we need to be talking throughout our prayer time offering God a list of wants and needs He can satisfy. The truth is we do not need to even say a word during prayer. We can simply sit there and be in God’s presence, just as we sit in the presence of music and listen.
Just as we might think about how cool the instrumentals are in a song, we can think about how wonderful God is in prayer. We can notice the attributes he has that are reflected in the world. For instance, we see His power in the roaring ocean, His genius in the diversity of life in a forest, or his beauty in a sunset.
Moreover, like we might listen to the lyrics of a song and use the meaning we discover to shape our lives or better cope with life, so too can we discover great meaning in prayer by listening to what God might say to us. It might be during a quiet time of contemplation or in an active moment, like when arguing with Maria, when God gets our attention to deliver to us a profound realization that utterly transforms our lives.
The trick is to always be ready with faith to respond to God’s music. His music is grace that He pours out to us to lead us to Him. We should also dedicate some time to listening to Him as well. You can start with just a couple songs’ worth a day and eventually increase your prayer time to a whole album’s worth!
It might be hard at first to do this, but eventually the prayer time begins to build you up. It becomes life-giving and you cannot imagine going a day without it. You begin to look forward to your time of prayer and even schedule things around it. You just need to put in the time. It’s worth it.