Playlists for Prayer

Editor’s Note: Today we welcome Barb Szyskiewicz, who is a long-time friend and supporter of CatholicMom.com, to our Tech Talk team.

At Mass this morning, the usual silence at Communion time was broken by a recorded hymn played over the church’s fuzzy, muffled sound system.  Instead of praying and reflecting after receiving the Eucharist, I found myself straining to make out the lyrics of the unfamiliar song of praise.  When I wasn’t doing that, I was griping to myself about the poor quality of our church’s sound system.

So much for prayer.

Music is a huge part of my life—and my prayer life.  I’ve been a music minister at my school or parish since I was a teenager, and I’m a huge believer in St. Francis of Assisi’s adage, “He who sings, prays twice.”  Psalm 146 is one of my favorites; it begins, “My soul, give praise to the Lord; I will praise the Lord all my days, make music to my God while I live.”

Maybe that’s the problem.  I can—and do—pray while I sing.  But praying while someone else sings is not as easy for me.  When someone’s singing, I want to sing along.  So I don’t listen to much music when I’m praying in a formal way such as the Rosary or Liturgy of the Hours.  If I do, I keep it classical; nothing with lyrics, even in instrumental versions.  Lyrics are distracting to me when I’m trying to pray or read other words.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t use music as part of my prayer life in other ways.  Besides playing and singing it myself, there are musicians whose songs inspire me to pray:  Rich Mullins, Beth Neilsen Chapman, Marie Bellet and Sarah Hart, to name just a few.  It’s a matter of choosing the right music for the right time.

I’ve organized some of my favorite music into playlists labeled “Praise” and “Inspiration.”  This way, a route to prayer is only a few clicks away on my iPod.  It’s ready anytime I’m ready to pray—and sing—along.

What’s on your playlist for prayer?

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Copyright 2012 Barb Szyszkiewicz

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