Prayer in Music

Prayer through Music

 I attended an organ concert last night by the young English organist Simon Thomas Jacobs. It was not a religious concert, but it reminded me of the connection I feel between music and spirituality.

There are many things that I believe touch our souls in ways that we cannot completely understand–or express with words. The Bible talks about those times when we don’t have the words to pray. Those times are when I pray in music.

The first time I really became aware of this was about ten years ago. I had applied for a job that I really felt called to…felt I had spent my whole life preparing for. The job description seemed written for me. I went through the interview process, was one of the final four, and felt great…until I received a phone call letting me know that the job had been offered to the only one of the four of us who I felt lacked what had been identified as some of the crucial qualifications.

I spent much of that summer in tears. The job had been with my church–and I really was wondering if there was a place for me any more in the church. Late summer I attended a weeklong workshop sponsored by my church. There were a lot of things that week that were emotional and spiritual challenges, and again I spent a lot of time in tears. One of the evening presentations talked about responding to God’s call, and following that, someone came up to me as we were visiting afterwards to ask me a couple of questions for a class assignment. The first question was fine, but the second felt like a hot poker had been touched to that sensitive spot (although the woman who was asking me the questions had no idea of what had happened).

I fled the building…went to the campus chapel and sat at the piano. I turned no lights on, because I didn’t want anyone to join me. I felt like I needed to pray, but the hurts were so deep that I had no words. And so I spent the next half-hour playing my prayer. At times it was angry…other times it was pleading…at times it expressed my confusion.

At the end of that time, I felt drained, but I also felt relieved…sensing that what I had not been able to put in words God had understood through my music.

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