Updated: Jan 26
For breakups, it's "Not Gon Cry" by Mary J. Blige.
For falling in love, it's "Spend My Life With You" by Eric Benet.
For Christmas, it's "The Preacher's Wife" soundtrack by Whitney Houston.
For my childhood, it's nursery rhymes and "Jesus Loves Me".
When I hear these, I'm transported back in time as I watch scenes lived years ago. But I don't need an app or stereo to hear music. As soon as my heartbeat flutters, these soundtracks begin to play and I find myself humming to melodic notes strummed on the strings of my imagination and memory. These soundtracks aren't limited to song lyrics or poetry. They can be any words or sounds. If you listen intently enough, you'll hear them in unexpected places masquerading as that subtle static that never allows for pure silence in your mind, especially in your prayer life.
When I began to pray, my knees hitting the floor was the start button to an immediate soundtrack until I felt God saying, "stop. start over, just talk." I wasn't sure about the source of God's complaint. I was giving Him my best material. Didn't He enjoy my hallelujahs, my KJV "thou arts", my repetitive phrases? It took me a minute to realize that the routine flowing from this soundtrack was too loud and too scripted to allow for real conversation. If I believed that God was a real, how had prayer become only a performance for the approval of my conscious that I was a good Christian? If I believed that God loved me, why wasn't a goal of prayer to build relationship more than answers? If I believed that God was all powerful, why did the soundtrack of my prayer life contain songs that gave fear and doubt the title and the chorus?
I can't take all the credit for my soundtrack. Much of the soundtrack to my prayer life came from precedents, pews and pulpits. That steady drumline in my prayers was the heartbeat of Adam and Eve afraid God would find out my mistakes, see my nakedness and turn away. That chorus of "if it's your will" was the echo of believers needing a plan B to swallow God's no. That lyrical verse were the stories of God I had yet to value in a meaningful way. That stopping as soon as the music faded was the withdrawal of the Israelites in the wilderness who just wanted to hear Moses and my willingness to wait on preachers instead of waiting for God to speak in that moment. That begging was the pleading of choosing a king over a God and wanting to be just like everyone else. Even the "dear God", the start of a letter to a God who I assumed was distant instead of living inside me.
Someone once said "there's no sense in rehearsing for tragedy" and it struck me that that's how the soundtrack of my prayer life sounded to God. I rehearsed preparing for failure and unanswered prayers instead of hope and anticipation. I am beginning to realize that God doesn't need a head start to comfort, start over, or to perform the miraculous. He just needs someone's who connected so now when my knees hit the ground, I stop, pause before the soundtrack starts, and just talk about everything.
As I, in faith, asked for my desires and thanked God for what meant the most to me that day, it caused me to spend my day looking for God's fingerprints in my life so that we could talk about it later. It caused me to seek his specific will, to listen for God's voice, and to recognize that God walks in my heart. His spirit is in my temple like an archeologist in an ancient ruin. I found how carefully He excavated His will in my life, how mindful He was of what was crumbling, how He measured the pressure of His steps against how much more heart was able to bounce back, how my words and prayers guided the movement of his hands in my life and revealed the sight to see where God was, where He has been and where He will be.
Prayer forged a relationship when my soundtrack was quieted. Don't get me wrong, there is a time and a season for everything, even my "thou arts" but more often than not, it's just a daughter talking to a father telling Him about my day and listening for how His eternity is going. Every once in a while, the catchiness of that old soundtrack will play and I'll find myself humming a little too long to a time as stale as aged words left too long in the mind to bring anything fresh to the conversation. But it's especially during those times that I thank God for His patience with me and His ability to make new songs from ancient words.