Utilizing Music in Contemplative Ways

I met Paul Jones as part of my graduating class of spiritual directors. He and his wife Mary have been married for 30 years. He is the father of 2 sons, ages 19 and 23 years. He is a pastor, musician and spiritual director serving in Gig Harbor, Washington, at Peninsula Baptist Church. With a passion for the Word and Worship, he seeks to draw people to a deeper intimacy and communion with the Lord. I found him to be a wonderfully sensitive person who is a great listener and who can play the piano superbly. There was not much of a chance to hear him play the piano in our busy schedule but when he did, I thoroughly enjoyed both the music and Paul’s way of becoming a part of the music and becoming lost in the presence of God. I think this is reflected in the posting that he shares with us as he teaches even those of us who would not claim to be musical to use music as an honest expression, from the heart, of celebration and praise.  


Utilizing Music in Contemplative Ways
By: Guest poster, Rev. Paul B. Jones
Even the most cursory review of the Psalms makes it evident that music plays a profound role in times of both personal and corporate worship.   From the beginning, our creative God and Savior rejoices in the full range of honest expression from the heart – from deepest sorrow and lament (such as Psalm 42, 130, 137) to the highest of praise and celebration (Psalm 95-100, 150 and many others).   Repeatedly, the call goes out to “Sing to the Lord a new song”.   As we take the time to wait upon the Lord, a song arises within us.   Let it come forth, an honest expression of the heart before the One who knows and loves us best.  

For me, that time of waiting before the Lord and expressing my heart to Him flows best when I sit at a piano.   Sometimes I may be playing songs I know;  other times, I just play, and/or have the scriptures open – and sing them freely.  It need not be polished or refined.  In fact, I believe God delights in the raw and honest expression of my faith as I wait upon the Lord in rich and intimate communion with Jesus.  

Whatever one’s abilities may be, I encourage you to heed God’s invitation to you to draw near … in a new song… in the free expression of your love to the Lord as you delight in Him – His Word and His work in your life.  

Perhaps you feel like you were left out when the gifts of music were distributed.   Have no fear.  God delights to hear the song of your heart.   If that still seems too much of a stretch for you, don’t forget the added blessing of recordings.   A practice that helps me to center and attune to God’s presence is silent, contemplative prayer – with the backdrop of quiet, instrumental, reflective music.   There are so many to choose from, I hesitate to mention any, knowing one’s preferred style may vary greatly.   That said, however, I do offer titles of two artists that have recently enriched my times of communion with God.   Songs from the River, by Ruth Fazal; and Keith Duke – His Celtic Music for Piano, featuring Kevin Duncan.   Experiment… Try something different or new… and rejoice to hear God singing over you in love.

May these thoughts serve to stimulate your own ideas for utilizing music in the enhancement of your contemplative ways.



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Copyright Lynda Chalmers