Lord, teach us to pray (Luke 11:1)
My purpose in posting this series of prayer strategies is to help readers win the battle that is often set against our attempts at consistent prayer. About the battle, the Catechism of the Catholic Church gives us valuable guidance. You can read some of what it teaches in paragraphs 2725 to 2745. I cited 2725 in an earlier post. Here is one more:
2729 The habitual difficulty in prayer is distraction. . . . . To set about hunting down distractions would be to fall into their trap, when all that is necessary is to turn back to our heart: for a distraction reveals to us what we are attached to, and this humble awareness before the Lord should awaken our preferential love for him and lead us resolutely to offer him our heart to be purified. Therein lies the battle, the choice of which master to serve.
I rarely use only one method of prayer during my time with the Lord. While “lists” form the foundation, I often build on that foundation with music. On that subject, the Catechism quotes St. Augustine: How I wept, deeply moved by your hymns, songs, and the voices that echoed through your Church! What emotion I experienced in them! Those sounds flowed into my ears distilling the truth in my heart. A feeling of devotion surged within me, and tears streamed down my face - tears that did me good. And, Augustine added: He who sings prays twice. (CCC 1156, 1157)
As I begin my time of prayer, I listen to two or three worship songs through headphones, preferring lyrics in the second person rather than the third (e.g. ‘You’ instead of ‘He’). While I listen I pray the words back to God. Here are a few songs, along with portions of their lyrics, I use in my prayers (I included in this post the links to YouTube videos only because I am unable to embed the songs alone. I do not watch videos during my prayer time because they would be a distraction).
O Sacred Head, Now Wounded (click here)
O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down. Now scornfully surrounded with thorns Thine only crown: how pale thou art with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn! How does that visage languish which once was bright as morn!
What thou, my Lord, has suffered was all for sinners' gain; mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain. Lo, here I fall, my Savior! 'Tis I deserve thy place; look on me with thy favor, vouchsafe to me thy grace.
Here is another: Worthy is the Lamb, by Hillsong (click here)
Thank you for the cross, Lord. Thank you for the price You paid.
Bearing all my sin and shame, In love You came, and gave amazing grace.
Thank you for this love, Lord. Thank you for the nail pierced hands.
Washed me in Your cleansing flow, now all I know, Your forgiveness and embrace.
Worthy is the Lamb, seated on the throne. Crown You now with many crowns,
You reign victorious. High and lifted up, Jesus Son of God, the Darling of Heaven crucified, worthy is the Lamb. Worthy is the Lamb.
Here is another by Hillsong: At The Cross (click here)
Oh Lord, You've searched me, You know my way. Even when I fail You, I know You love me. Your holy presence, surrounding me. In every season, I know You love me. I know You love me.
At the cross I bow my knee where Your blood was shed for me, there's no greater love than this. You have overcome the grave, Your glory fills the highest place, what can separate me now?
You go before me. You shield my way. Your hand upholds me. I know You love me. And when the Earth fades, falls from my eyes, and You stand before me, I know You love me. I know You love me
And one by Michael W. Smith: This is My Desire (click here)
This is my desire to honor you, Lord with all my heart
I worship you. All I have within me, I give you praise.
All that I adore is in you
Lord I give you my heart, I give you my soul, I live for you alone.
Every breath that I take, every moment I’m awake,
Lord have your way in me.
It has only been within the last several years that I discovered how wonderful prayer can be when prayed through music. And I have begun to understand a little of what St. Augustine meant when he wrote: Those sounds flowed into my ears distilling the truth in my heart. A feeling of devotion surged within me, and tears streamed down my face - tears that did me good.
Yes, it is good to give God thanks and praise. Music – for me – enhances that joy.