When I was a young woman, I had an experience of being taken quite out of myself and in an obscure way of being in the presence of God while listening to music. I was alone in the house listening to the BBC Third Programme, as it was known in those days. The music was Beethoven’s violin Concerto played by Jasha Heifitz and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
I have never forgotten the experience and have to value it, as a pure gift of God. I see the experience as what I would now call prayer. In my old age I am learning the truth of the saying “pray as you can, not as you can’t”.
I now use relaxing with music as an opportunity for God to reach me. My interest is Classical Music, but I have no doubt that God uses whatever attracts us naturally.
I very much like these lines from T.S. Eliot: ‘music heard so deeply that it is not heard at all, but you are the music’. Sometimes I find a tune going round in my head and finally identify it as a phrase from a hymn, scripture song, a response to a psalm or something of the kind – then it is a fairly obviously invitation, as a way into prayer. Sometimes it isn’t anything especially ‘religious’ and is more akin to that original experience in which I became the music in some way. This sums up the experience for me.
I have a friend who also finds music brings her closer to God. It is encouraging to know that I am not alone in finding music as a way of helping me to pray. I think the most important thing that I have to do is to keep reminding myself that prayer is a gift and all I can do is to give myself the best conditions for God to work in me.
As Paul tell us (Rom. 8:26-27) “The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness when we do not know how to pray. The Spirit prays within us”…