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I thought about fitting this into one of the pet peeve discussions, but I'd like a little more feedback on it. To be frank, I don't like it.

On the one hand, it's personal preference. I'm fairly ADD and when someone is playing, I start thinking about the sound of the instrument, any mistakes made, what chords are being played (especially if it's guitar and it's something I might learn) and maybe even getting into the song. It's nearly hopeless for me to pray while a "performance" is going on.

On the other hand, it seems like an emotional manipulation to me. Yeah, I hear the stuff about setting a mood or creating an atmosphere of worship, but how is that not merely stirring up emotions that can masquerade as a spiritual connection? Can't God speak to us with out a musical conduit?

There have been times when I've been listening to a song and feel like God was saying something to me through it. It was often followed by a rush of emotion at the thought of the Eternal Father, Creator of the Universe addressing me and my current situation. But I think we should not create conditions that encourage purely emotional reactions which distract from interaction with God.

My opinion and I realize that there are many who completely disagree with me. I'll state right now that they're opinion is just as valid as mine. Maybe one of you can shed some light on this that will be beneficial to me. BTW, if this topic has been discussed before, please direct me to that one.

Tags: distraction, prayer

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Your opinion is valid Scott..... I think it's a personal preference to have music playing while you pray. I personally like it but dont need it to have goog praying time and connection with God. It's like I usually play good moving christian music while I clean house.... I clean and I worship all at once but if I play slow music while I clean then I end up in the middle of my living room singing and worshipping and get no cleaning done !.. If you dont care to have music playing while you pray then that's ok too.... Be Blessed !!
BTW, my main focus here is during corporate worship in church although Ana's insight is very good.
It doesn't bother me as long as it is a low volume and something that is musically subdued. I can do without it though. There have been a few times when I've been asked by a pastor or other church leader to play while they pray. In those cases, it's a question of submission to authority - and so I play something quiet and mellow. There was only one time when someone was gesticulating (angrily?) at me, I suppose to "encourage" me to play something more vigorous.
Can't God speak to us with out a musical conduit? You bet He can, but sometimes He uses music to help it along. Sometimes I've played quietly while I or someone else prays; most times I don't. If I were to really look at it objectively, I would have to agree that it's easy for the music to become a distraction (for me, anyway). But for some people, it really helps them feel at peace.

So I would say that it's like anything else - use it in moderation.

BTW, did anyone go to the National Worship Leader Conference in Austin last July? Bishop Joseph Garlington was there, and whenever he preaches, he has his pianist play in the background - for the whole sermon! Sometimes he even creates a song on the run. Give a listen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__BUitBKtg4

This was really different for me, but I also found myself inspired by it. Don't know what I'd feel like if it happened every Sunday though...:)
the entire time he preaches!!?!?!?!?
I loved the worship/teaching of Bishop Garlington at last year's NWLC and the pianist was an integral part of how Bishop Garlingon's message was preached. They are a team (even though I don't know the pianist's name and that is a SHAME!) and most of us are not that closely aligned with what our preacher/teacher is going to say or pray - at least I know I'm not. I think supporting prayer and preaching with instrumental music needs to be done with sensitivity to the appropriateness of the moment and should be very simple.
I'm with you in this, Scott!

Here are my comments:

"I start thinking about the sound of the instrument" - so the sound people have to fix that

"...any mistakes made"
- so the musicians shouldn't make any mistakes! Just play simple chords, if they can't do that they shouldn't be up there in the first place.

"what chords are being played" - if they choose something simple and repetitive that will cease to be a distraction for you after the 3rd or 4th time through and you realize they're gonna keep at it.

"... and maybe even getting into the song." - that's why they should not play songs, just chords.

"It's nearly hopeless for me to pray while a "performance" is going on." - that's why musicians have to learn that praying time or musically supporting prophecy or free worship is NOT time for them to launch off into their latest greatest favourite riff deciphered from some avant-guarde post-modernist free-form bebop CD. Don't perform, just blend into the background. (think invisible!)

At least that's what I think. :)
I like the way you think!
We use music for prayer times usually at the end of service as altar time or when we have a service dedicated to just prayer. We have done both live music and CD's. Usually it will only be the keyboard during altar time which is kept at a low enough volume as to not be a distraction. If we use the CD's they are instrumentals and played at a low level so as not to be distracting. Sometimes we just do without the music during altar times and this works well too.
What Junjie wrote about being invisible is true. Our pastor uses January as a preparatory month, and we have prayer meetings every night during the last week of the month with weekly meetings leading up to that last week. In past years, the meetings have been more 'traditional' in that it was a group of people (usually 30-50) gathering and praying - no music.

This year, he asked me to arrange the worship team to provide support for the ministry. It's taken the dynamic of the meetings to a totally different place, with music & prayer combining as worship. But our job is to enhance not detract or distract from the prayers, so while we might play songs at certain points in the meeting, for the remaining time, it's generally 2-4 chords, over which there may be no singing at all, or sometimes a new &/or prophetic song will be sung. We just never know what's going to happen - and I love that :-)
There are times when it is appropriate and times when it is not. It can be useful when some are being prayed for to help the rest of the congregation stay focused and not start chattering. It should never be use to influence or manipulate, but can enhance some times to take the edge of silences where something might be happening and not everyone is involved e.g. times of ministry.


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