I want to share a website and podcast that has been tremendous for helping me worship and pray. As I said in my post Rest, Not Escape, finding times to turn your heart to G-d in the frenetic pace of parenthood can be a challenge. However, in a sweet reminder that G-d wants to meet with us even more than we would meet with Him, I have found this wonderful, daily little treasure!
Pray-As-You-Go, which can be found online by clicking right here or in the Apple podcast store, is a daily prayer that downloads right to your phone or computer every day. It is about ten minutes – perfect for a quick errand – and includes a passage of scripture, a brief meditation, music, and a time for prayerful response. Based loosely on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and published by a fantastic little sect of Jesuit priests, every podcast is intentional, interesting, and you can trust that their meditations are Godly - resting comfortably on the broad shoulders of scripture and tradition. I believe that if you can carve the time to listen occasionally (ten minutes is perfect for everything from a work commute to a quick jaunt for the dry cleaning) your heart will be blessed beyond measure and Christ will honor your intention to meet him. I can’t WAIT to hear what y’all think!
Now – a word (warning) about the music sections and a brief meditation on the nature of worship:
Usually the music is an awesome, guttural Gregorian chant – the kind of deep and sacred chorus that immediately transforms your vehicle into an ancient cathedral. Other times it’s a guitar or piano – the kind of music that makes a girl raised in the Methodist Church feel right at home. Both easily recognized as “worship music.”
Other times however, the music includes … the saxophone (or as I call it, the sexaphone). And well, if you’re like me, the sexophone makes you feel like you should be running your fingers through your lover’s mall bangs in 1980s California.
Needless to say, when it comes to my ability to “worship” the sexaphone can be a bit of stumbling block.
My first instinct is this hope that if I just persist, I will stop noticing it - that I will move right past the saxy winds and into the heart of worship. I can tell you right now that way is useless. I will never get over the fact that I am cruising in my Volvo, jamming to the supple tones of Kenny G.
My second thought, which is almost always better than my first, is a reminder that the Lord wants to laugh with us. Like many of the things that enter my spirit and thoughts when I pray, I should engage rather than ignore the sexophone. Prayer is supposed to happen right where you are, and sometimes that is in a funny, laughing place - so laugh with G-d.
Further, the sexophone challenges me to accept a different form of music as worship. When I am challenged in that way, G-d reminds me that first and foremost, worship is a turning of my heart to Him.
Worship is recognizing that you are in the Presence of the Lord and then allowing that recognition to draw you toward gratitude, prayer, or simple honesty. Honesty is to acknowledge the Presence, even if all you can do in that Presence is muse about Donna’s day-glow bathing suits.
You are still turning to the Lord. G-d is still with you.
Churches lose themselves and their congregants in the “worship battle” (gag). If you have been in a protestant church for any length of time, you have likely overheard someone say, “I can’t worship to that,” or “this music isn’t acceptable for our contemporary congregation” or “where are the hymns?” It is consumerism in the Church and I don’t want to get into all that. But I am grateful that Pray-As-You-Go reminds me that worship takes all different forms. It reminds me to enter right where I am. With luck, it will train me to come to prayer however prayer is offered…and if it is offered to the sweet beats of the steel drum and sexyphone, then so be it.