Sometimes prayer comes naturally. It flows from a heart that is attune to what God is doing or the possibility of what God can do. It brings strength and peace. It fills us with imagination and wonder. It settles the wandering soul and it mends the broken heart. It is exciting, compelling, other-worldly. It draws us out of ourselves and into the realms of what could be. It shapes and forms us. It reveals who we are and, more importantly, who God is.
But more often than not (for me, anyway) it is hard work. It is a discipline that I struggle to maintain. #relatable . I used to find it easier to pray when I was younger, probably because my mum forced me to do it every morning before school, whether I wanted to or not. She did her very best to make prayer exciting for me. She even tried to organise a ‘show and tell’ for my brother and I one day, encouraging us to bring items that we were thankful for (good idea, but it didn’t land all that well at 7:30am with two teenage lads).
Things are a little different now. No more show and tell. But the challenge is still the same. I still try to find new ways of praying, new ways of engaging with God and expressing what’s going on within me.
I’ve been reading a lot of the Psalms recently, using them as my prayers, stealing their language and imagery to communicate my struggles and desires. It’s comforting to lean on the stories of those who have gone before me, those who have made mistakes and bounced back, those who have felt distant from God and had their faith reawakened.
But beyond the library of Scripture, I’ve also found language in music. So I thought, as a kind of virtual ‘show and tell’, I’d share some songs that I like. Actually, don’t call them songs: call them prayers. Breathe slowly.
I barely hear you
The signal is cold now
So turn it into video
Tune the radio
To all our favourite songs
Jónsi – Gathering Stories
If you listen you can hear the silence say
“When you think you’re done
You’ve just begun”
Love is bigger than anything in its way
U2 – Love Is Bigger Than Anything in Its Way
You never know how far from home you’re feeling
Until you watch the shadows cross the ceiling…
Come on home
Come on home
You don’t have to be alone
Just come on home
Phoebe Bridgers – Summer’s End
There been times that I thought
I couldn’t last for long
But now I think I’m able, to carry on
It’s been a long
A long time coming
But I know a change gonna come
Sam Cooke – A Change is Gonna Come