Listen to thie post below
Hello again everyone
You may be aware of our new ‘Soaking: Music for Prayer’ project available on our YouTube channel dBCo – Sounds of Worship.
If you need music for contemplation, or quiet reflection, or if you are looking for music to accompany your times of prayer or simply need some background music to relax to, follow the link below for our latest instrumental from that project.
You’ll see that it is a version of our song ‘No More Fear’ that we posted in the ‘Are You Living Without Fear’ blog as a free MP3 recently and we hope it provides another opportunity for space and breathing room in your everyday.
Instrumental music with vocals – really!?
I know you’d be expecting the expressive piano and strings played by Carey, but what you may not expect is the way I use my voice.
There are plenty of prayer ‘Soaking’ videos available where you will hear piano, synth or orchestral sounds, but we wanted to explore adding my voice as an instrument too.
In musical terms this is called vocalising, so, rather than hearing sung words you will in fact hear me humming a melody or singing vowel sounds [aah’s and oooo’s etc] that flow and interweave with the piano to create a space for you to pray, relax and meditate.
Why I needed Music for Prayer: Soaking: Read on to find out
…a little background
So I was preparing to give a lecture at ECCi [Emmanuel Community Church Int] about ‘Practicing the Presence of God’ and there I mentioned, that along with
·exploring sabbath and
·looking to ancient treasures and historical practices
there was also the ancient-future practice of contemplation using music, otherwise known as ‘soaking prayer’.
We gave space for this during the lecture and at the end, as one participant gave an unusual and vivid description of a picture of Jesus she had seen in her imagination as we played, it was clear to Carey and I that she had been deeply encouraged.
But it may surprise you to hear that while I regularly practice other forms or prayer and reflection, I had never actually explored this method of contemplation so, I began to introduce this to my prayer spaces.
I quickly found it brought a much needed ‘in-breath’ to my full timetables and ‘to do’ lists.
I love words as you know, but here in this ‘Soaking: Music for Prayer’ space I found that now, I wasn’t the one driving the prayer conversation or even re-framing bible verses I was reading, but here, I was deliberately in a posture to listen. To rest and relax. To wait. To be still.
You may already practice this type of contemplation and are becoming aware of changes and developments in your prayers, character and outlook. I will let you know if any dramatic (or otherwise) changes occur for me, but dramatic happenings are not my primary aim. There does, however, feel to be a deepening awareness of the presence of God and an expectation for God to speak in everyday situations.
With this discovery I wanted to make our musical expression available to you in our community and so Carey and I set out to record this prayer moment which we are delighted to share it with you.
In these days that for many of us hold mixed emotions or present new opportunities, or for others you might be facing hard questions and difficult experiences, we hope that our ‘Soaking: Music for Prayer’ project provides the space you need to rest, to de-compress, to reflect, to simply ‘be’.
Here are some of my tips from that lecture I gave at ECCi in September 2020. I hope you find them helpful:
Soaking principles in brief
This is a phrase made popular by John and Carol Arnott, and came out of the Toronto Blessing in 1994 which has now evolved to Catch the Fire.
Creative Similarities. Some of us may have a negative or ambiguous reaction to the idea of ‘soaking’ but a closer study of the guiding principles will show in part that there are clear resonances with bible meditation, contemplative prayer, Taizé practices and the use of silence.
·Prepare. We all have those things that are effective distractions and that encourage our procrastination. Get rid of distractions, like having the phone on silent, closing the laptop, finding a space that doesn’t present you with the ‘to do’ list.
[I have post-it notes close by so I can write down anything that is pressing].
·Get quiet and comfortable. Lie down with a pillow, or sit on a couch.
·Steady your breathing. For some of us, it takes around 15 minutes or more to wind down and switch off.
Breathe in deeply. Breathe out and imagine you can see your breath leaving your body. Repeat! Please ?
·Play some relaxing music preferably without words.
Many people find music that uses repetition is really helpful and follows in the contemplative traditions of Taizé and Iona and other ancient treasures in Christian worship. Freely composed music is also another helpful aid in our contemplation.
·‘Welcome’ the Holy Spirit. [Remember this is probably more about me asking God to wake me up to how ‘here’ the Holy Spirit already is!] but a simple ‘I welcome you Holy Spirit’ is a good start.
·Listen. God might speak through pictures, words, memories, Bible verses, objects or ‘common-sense’ thoughts.
·Trust that God wants to come close. Remember, God is ‘delighted with the prospect’. The Holy Spirit is at work in you.
·Be kind to yourself. If this is a new prayer practice for you it will take time to develop.
·Don’t worry if you fall asleep. There is [thankfully] plenty of Biblical evidence to support how God can speak to us even to change history, culture and destiny while we are sleeping. [cf, Joseph/Jesus, Peter/Cornelius].
See how you get on. You may prefer other ways to provide space to contemplate and rest, do let me know what they are and hopefully in the meantime, these ‘Soaking: Music for Prayer’ videos will open up options and opportunities for you.
Cheering you on today