Reflections on Song as Prayer

Man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips. — Viktor E. Frankl

Life is like a recycling center, where all the concerns and dramas of humankind get recycled back and forth across the universe. But what you have to offer is your own sensibility, maybe your own sense of humor or insider pathos or meaning. All of us can sing the same song, and there will still be four billion different renditions. ― Anne Lamott

There is a very important distinction to be made between listening and hearing. Sometimes we listen to things, but we never hear them. True listening brings us in touch even with that which is unsaid and unsayable. Sometimes the most important thresholds of mystery are places of silence. To be genuinely spiritual is to have great respect for the possibilities and presence of silence. …When you listen with your soul, you come into rhythm and unity with the music of the universe.
~ John O’Donohue

Songs as forms of prayer and spiritual expression:


One Song — Rumi

Every war and every conflict between human beings
has happened because of some disagreement about names.

It is such an unnecessary foolishness,
because just beyond the arguing
there is a long table of companionship
set and waiting for us to sit down.

What is praised is one, so the praise is one too,
many jugs being poured into a huge basin.
All religions, all this singing, one song.
The differences are just illusion and vanity.
Sunlight looks a little different on this wall
than it does on that wall
and a lot different on this other one,
but it is still one light.

We have borrowed these clothes,
these time-and-space personalities,
from a light, and when we praise,
we are pouring them back in.

Sound & Song as Prayer

…music is about as physical as it gets: your essential rhythm is your heartbeat; your essential sound, the breath. We’re walking temples of noise, and when you add tender hearts to this mix, it somehow lets us meet in places we couldn’t get to any other way. ― Anne Lamott
 
Prayer does not use up artificial energy, doesn’t burn up any fossil fuel, doesn’t pollute. Neither does song, neither does love, neither does the dance. — Margaret Mead

To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer. — Mahatma Gandhi

My grandmother took me to church on Sunday all day long, every Sunday into the night. Then Monday evening was the missionary meeting. Tuesday evening was usher board meeting. Wednesday evening was prayer meeting. Thursday evening was visit the sick. Friday evening was choir practice. I mean, and at all those gatherings, we sang. — Maya Angelou
 
The desire is thy prayers; and if thy desire is without ceasing, thy prayer will also be without ceasing. The continuance of your longing is the continuance of your prayer. — Saint Augustine

The music that I have learned and want to give is like worshipping God. It’s absolutely like a prayer. — Ravi Shankar

Singing in the midst of evil is what it means to be disciples. Like Mary Magdalene, the reason we stand and weep and listen for Jesus is because we, like Mary, are bearers of resurrection, we are made new. On the third day, Jesus rose again, and we do not need to be afraid. To sing to God amidst sorrow is to defiantly proclaim, like Mary Magdalene did to the apostles, and like my friend Don did at Dylan Klebold’s funeral,t hat death is not the final word. To defiantly say, once again, that a light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot, will not, shall not overcome it. And so, evil be damned, because even as we go to the grave, we still make our song alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. ― Nadia Bolz-Weber

Silence is one of the major thresholds in the world. . . . Meister Eckhart said that there is nothing in the world that resembles God so much as silence. Silence is a great friend of the soul; it unveils the riches of solitude. It is very difficult to reach that quality of inner silence. You must make a space for it so that it may begin to work for you. In a certain sense, you do not need the whole armory and vocabulary of therapies, psychologies, or spiritual programs. If you have a trust in and an expectation of your own solitude, everything that you need to know will be revealed to you. These are some wonderful lines from the French poet Rene Char: “Intensity is silent, its image is not. I love everything that dazzles me and then accentuates the darkness within me.” Here is an image of silence as the force that discloses hidden depth. Silence is the sister of the divine.
— John O’Donohue

On Prayer
 
In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart. — Mahatma Gandhi
 
I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right; but it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation may be on the Lord’s side. — Abraham Lincoln
 
In prayer, we stand where angels bow with veiled faces. There, even there, the cherubim and seraphim adore before that selfsame throne to which our prayers ascend. And shall we come there with stunted requests and narrow, contracted faith? — Charles Spurgeon
 
Prayer is simply a two-way conversation between you and God. —Billy Graham

You carry Mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment. In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer. — Thich Nhat Hanh

Just as in earthly life lovers long for the moment when they are able to breathe forth their love for each other, to let their souls blend in a soft whisper, so the mystic longs for the moment when in prayer he can, as it were, creep into God. — Soren Kierkegaard
 
‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding. — Alice Walker