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?
Copyright 2012 Barb Szyszkiewicz