Week 3 Day 5: Unity
Question: How might being attuned to those around you shape your prayer today?
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Transcript of Video:
Our praying together, our praying as one voice – or una voce as we sometimes say; it’s a Latin phrase – it actually requires a great deal of attention, even discipline. One of the lines in our Rule refers to the disciplines of choral prayer: that is a prayer that is sung, sung together, and this actually requires a significant amount of attention and intentionality. And you may be aware that we actually have rehearsals, maybe once or twice a week. But actually, it’s mainly in the doing, day after day, week after week, and honing that sense of attentiveness to the others around us.
-Br. Mark Brown
How might being attuned to those around you shape your prayer today?
It’s interesting that Br. Mark relates being attuned to others to singing together daily as brothers in prayer. I have always been a choral singer and pride myself on being able to sing with others, blending voices, listening to each other and making incredible music together. Many of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had are creating music together with various kinds of ensembles.
In meditation, I discovered a different kind of attunement. By going inward and experience the vastness of all and opening myself to the abundance of God I feel the connectedness to all things in the broadest way possible. These experiences in meditation, however, are much more fleeting, as I am not yet that disciplined enough to go into that kind of meditation regularly. Being a part of this series helps me be more consistent in daily prayer, reflection and more time for meditation.
I guess that I would be more aware of the needs around me. When I pray morning and evening prayer I think of all that have prayed fixed prayer over the centuries joining my prayer with theirs. Also I am thinking less of myself and am not concentrating on my own failings and issues.
Being around caregivers in a hospital reawakened me to teachings from my Father when I was a child. I began to think deeply about gratitude and communal spiritual generosity with the caregivers over the past 2 years. Today, specifically, I am working on public art so I am immersed in inspiring across generations and convening across differences. While I am working in my home office, I am not isolated from unity.
My blessing is that I have been open about my faith and my prayer life. My family, friends, co-workers know I pray at all times and anytime. I have been blessed that my children, family, coworkers, friends will ask me, text me, email me and I ask me to pray and they know I will in that instant. I am a nurse and I am also fortunate that I can pray with and for my patients.
I think that being attuned to others is another way of saying that we are all one in the Cosmic Christ, so we are all connected. This means that in theory those around me always shape my prayer; not a prayer of words, but of communion in the silence. It means listening to each other, and all creation, at an unconscious level, with love, just as a choir does. We are then, with God, in all situations that occur,without even being consciously aware. The Spirit in us prays if we let it. This is true prayer for me.
Although I’ve been singing in choirs for more than 40 years, I learned the most valuable lesson recently, which I think applies to what you are saying, and that is: The most important role of any singer is to listen to the other singers; if you cannot hear and attune yourself to the other singers, you aren’t singing with the choir (you are doing your own thing). The same is true walking through the office or the church or the grocery store, listening to the people rather than being noisy by yourself.
As a choral musician myself, I can relate to Br. Mark’s comments. I never had the talent or discipline to be a soloist, but I’ve always loved choral singing. Currently, I sing first soprano with a 75-voice master chorale. The most important skill I’ve learned over my nearly 40 years of singing in choirs is to listen to those around me, to be a complement to the others, to not be a selfish singer of prideful arrogance about my own skill, but to be a generous member that can blend into the totality of the choral sound.
When I am attuned to those around me, I can get out of myself and pray for others. I can pray for their specific needs, rather than the general catch all “take care of our friends and loved ones and everyone else who needs you”. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the general prayer. But my connection to God and to the one I am praying for deepens in the moments when I am praying specifically for them.
By being attuned to others and their needs, I’m less likely to dwell on my own issues and concentrate more on being an intercessor for others.
Its the singing of the hymns that brings me to tears. Once on a bad day I was in a chapel of another denomination (all by myself) and there was no prayer book to help me find the words to pray with. So I read the hymns and I wept.
I wish everyone I speak with daily to have a blessed day. If I’m aware of ones problems I promise to pray for them and their issues. I derive such a wonderful feeling after each event, thus it must be God growing in my life.
…political world my prayer is shaped with
Come Lord Jesus Come
I am not in a choir but I love to sing in church with fellow church members. I don’t know what others think I sound like but I make a joyful sound unto the Lord. I appreciate the unity of my christianity both in my church but also around the world. It brings to mind the Womans’ World Day of Prayer celebrated yesterday where all women around the world follow a service, in their country’s time zone, from the same service sheet, written each year by women of a particular country and this makes me feel so close to my sisters (and brothers) in other communities. However, this particular “session” has focused me on the fact that I must strive harder to being a “listener” rather than a “speaker”.
Praying in church is stimulating for me in ways I am unaware but somehow my life changes without me even knowing it. The biggest part of that prayer for me is in receiving the Eucharist. There are now words to describe the effects of that because it is so deep but it connects me not only to the church I am in but with all of creation.
I feel thankful for the connections I am making at this website because it is also doing something for me. It has also stimulated something in me during this period of desolation. Thanks to all of you.
Unfortunately there are some people of assorted ages that are I’ll in various ways. Living in a small Island community we think of them everyday through conversation and posters for fundraisers and seeing family members. I pray for them continually.
Being attuned to those around me helps me know what intercessions I can offer.
I’ve got some students today that are having a rough time and can’t make it to class. its events like these that shape my prayer for others.
Being attuned to others I would be aware of things they needed prayer for. I could then remember them in my prayers; even send arrow prayers.
I thought about this all day, although I wasn’t able to sit down and talk to it. I understand it better now, and it sounds closer to the body of Christ than Church feels to. Praying daily or more, intercessory prayers with my Companions of the Holy Cross, at least feels like good concentration on the person(s) needing our prayers, but this isn’t the same. This is attuning to and praying for and with all the people around you while they are doing the same thing. I like the term “in concert”. It fits here. Thank you for sharing this with us.
Later today, I will be attending a Stations of the Cross service along with fellow parisheners. The focus of prayer will on the meaning of each Station. In a sense, we as parisheners will be in Unity, together in prayer at each of the Stations.
On behalf of my parish, I used to call on members in their homes. I would listen attentively to their expressed joys, sorrows, challenges and needs. Prayers with them and for them easily followed. Today’s question reminds me to be sensitive to others nearby without there necessarily being conversation between us. Thank you.
There are so many out there that need so much more than myself, it so humbling!
My day is nearly over as I read this, and I’ve been snowed in with my husband and dog today. But I’ve been in communication via phone and email with a number of people and have picked up on needs that I can hold up in my prayers tonight. Thank you for this spur to my thinking.
As do several others here, I sing in my church choir. Our small choir is mighty, with several professional musicians in it. However, we all depend so much on each other–and there is no sense of “better than” or that we “can’t sing without” a particular voice. We all pitch in and sing to God’s glory. The discipline of rehearsal and the “real time” of the service have enhanced my experience of prayer, of God, of the liturgy, and of the congregation’s robust voices rising up. God sings through us, as he gave us mercy through Jesus.
…living in a highly politicized country/world…my prayer is “…come Lord Jesus com…”
I’m thinking that being attuned to others can help me see when prayers are being answered. I recently watched a video of an interview with Frederick Buechner and he spoke of walking down a busy New York City street and feeling very much like a fish out of water as a Vermonter surrounded by all these people. Then he found himself looking into the face of an African American woman who said to him, “God bless you.” Suddenly he no longer felt alone. He’d heard words he didn’t even know he needed to hear. He said he wished he had followed the woman and spoke to her more but he realized this opportunity for connection existed in every person around him. It made him more aware and prayerful. I hope to be this attuned today and every day.
I feel challenged. I tend to be particularly self consumed but with negative & worrying thoughts of being liked or being efficient. My church is helping me to leave this behind. My faith & prayers are developing. I struggle to articulate my needs, thoughts & opinions in areas that require deeper thought. My mind is very restless. I’m in need of this course. I think my mind is beginning to slow down & I think I’m learning to stop & listen to others. This can be hard with those I feel intimidated by. I keep wanting to prove myself to them or read everything they say as a personal dig at my incompetence. I think I’m seeing important prayer is on another level. I’m praying with more weight for others. I love sensing God’s presence & His love.
Being attuned to others can help me to recognize others’ needs and not just live in my own head or make assumptions about them. It would allow me to observe others’ true feelings and help me to deduce what they’re worried about or what is troubling them today.
I am mindful throughout the day that I want to be thankful so I notice the smile of the nurse at the lab. I rejoice that a doctor has really followed through in a special way. I smile at how happy my dog is leaping in the snow. When I pray at bedtime, I’ll specifically give thanks for these moments.
Help in recognizing others and enables you pray for others and not just yourself
I like and need to spend time alone. But it is good to be reminded of the value of corporate prayer. Going to church often feels like an intrusion in the few opportunities I have for solitude, I’m not sure that I am willing to “fit it in” to my busy schedule. But, as I reflect, I wonder whether I am seeing going to church as an activity that I should “get something out of”, when in fact I am not likely to get anything out of it, and that might be the point. I might simply contribute my small part in being there to the activity of corporate prayer.
You make a wonderful point about our preoccupations with “getting something out of” prayer or going to services. Being there–showing up, praying, even if the mind occasionally wanders–helps everyone in some way, even if we can’t define it.
I think you’ve said something important here – perhaps too many of us think in terms of what we do or don’t get out of a church service, rather than in terms of our being there to be a part of corporate prayer and to perhaps give to others.
This reminds me of a passage in (I believe) Paul’s letter to the Ephesians where we are exhorted to meet together for building one another up for service.
We are snowbound, my husband and I, so he is the only “person around me.” It reminds me of an exercise we did for Spiritual Direction workshop 14 years ago. One night when my husband was already asleep, I remembered my assignment which was to listen, without any interruption, to a person I lived with. I awakened my husband and asked him how was his day? Amazingly, he responded, for a lengthy recital, and I realized God’s presence in the unaccustomed listening I was doing. Attention and intentionality. I will try that again this evening.
I just found out that today is a very painful day for a close friend because the friend’s brother and father died of gunshot wounds 15 years ago today. And another friend is in real pain because of his experience of being wounded by his priest. And at the same time, I am feeling very empowered today. My friends’ pain jolts be back into the reality of our world–all the suffering, cruelty, unfairness going on. It helps me pray for people who can stand with those in pain, listen to them and also to try to work for social justice, toward a lessening of suffering. At a contentious meeting last night, I learned about ways of reducing the violence of words through compassionate communication. It is not enough, but it can be a start.
Walking in the snow and sharing a meal with my husband and dog; sitting and listening with compassion to my clients; even finding ways to connect through email since the snow kept me home today….
If there is to be any kind of unity, we must value and respect others. God, of course, helps us out.
We are created in the Image of God, Christ abides with us and died for us, and God loves each and every one of us. God is our Father and we are His children , one family. Our blessed Lord enlightens, loves, teaches, and protects us.
This means that there is genuine equality; everyone is equal. Men and women of every religion, skin color and ethnicity participate in this equality. Everyone may have spiritual insights and come to know God. Both men and women have equal access to God, equal responsibilities and obligations in marriage, and may use the gifts that God has given them.
Who does God love the best?
Me, myself, and I and you, too. God loves everyone the best.
How do we know that God loves each of us the best?
Our names are written on God’s heart and His name is written on ours.
Tonight as I feed the PDAP kids we will pray together for God’s strength and guidance. A corporate prayer gives the sense of everyone lifting up their spirit to God.
Attuning to others means, to me, focusing on those around me, and considering their needs, concerns, joys and hopes. What a lovely reminder today’s question is of the importance of pulling myself away from focusing of my own brokenness, needs and desires. Nothing makes me feel better about my life than helping someone else feel better about theirs. As St. Francis taught us: “It is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” Amen.
This will shape my arrow prayers for today. It seems to me that being attuned to others is part of being present in the moment, being outside my head instead of listening to the chattering thoughts inside. Giving others the attention they deserve, and being more aware of their needs.
I’ve started not only praying for others, but telling them I’m going to pray for them – the check-out lady at Wal-mart who’s going through chemo, the mother who’s son is depressed, etc. I ask for their first name so I can pray for them by name. First I felt shy about this, but most people feel cared for if you tell them you will pray for them.
Several months ago I told a work colleague who was being treated for breast cancer that I was praying for her. A little later she stopped me to tell me that it meant a great deal to her to know that I was praying for her.
The church I recently joined after my retirement and relocation has a “contemplative sit” every Friday morning. We sit in silence for the first half hour and then discuss a scripture passage from the previous Sunday’s service during the second half hour. We end with Noon prayer.
In our Education for Ministry group, we begin our time together with shared prayer concerns and end with worship; as we discuss and worship together throughout the session, I’m reminded of the needs that everyone has. When we come together intentionally, our prayers seem to be woven into one beautiful act of worship. As I go throughout this Lenten season, I’m trying very hard to be mindful that we’re all in this life together, and our prayers are all equally precious to God.
I find joy and a sense of unity from singing in my church’s choir. Intentionality again is such a key concept. As I go through my day, I need to listen closely and lovingly to my fellow travelers.
The attentiveness for which I strive takes energy, patience and my recognition of the Spirit around me. Dear God, increase my awareness and ability to be available to you in all things, thus making me more available to those around me.
I am often preoccupied with my own thoughts (to the extent that my interior monologue rises to the level of thought). I need to learn to be more present to the people around me and give them the attention they deserve.
I know exactly what you mean
If “one who sings prays twice”, just think of the power exponentially magnified in a whole group singing prayers!
As a musician by habit, training and practice, and as well the son of a church musician and music-educator I know how when I sing in our Senior Choir at Church, or play in the concert band as I often do, the challenge is to obey three things. The first is to have regard for the gift of the composer, whom I believe in most cases is inspired by God. The Second is to obey the conductor, through whom we all can manage our ensemble to make the greatest praiseful use of the opportunity of have all of the singers or players together. The Third is to make sure as well as you can that as an individual you have prepared yourself and your craft so that working together a beautiful thing can be made. I believe such things are worship. S.D.G. was often found on manuscripts of the great J. S. Bach. When it all works the experience of such praise raises the soul. So my prayer is, please may I be enriched by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to make an contribution in the orchestra of life that is worshipful.
I am so ashamed … but those most in need of prayer around me I want to avoid. When I consider those around me, it is my spoiled and indulged step children who are most in need of my prayer. They are so demanding, I hold my breath while they’re around, waiting to exhale and relax when they go. God surely has placed me here for a reason. I guess my prayer is to let God pray for me when I am with these individuals, since I am incapable of praying for them myself.
Such honesty is refreshing .. good luck .. May God’s Peace be with you all.
The choir illustration is wonderful. I have been in several choirs. Most of the time on choir we do not get tp speak directly with one anotber.However each person doing their best to accomplish a common goal forms unseen ties or bonds.
Similat tp the person earlier, today my town is beseiged by ice and snow. So I am intentionally mindful of those who are having to travel or got stuck out in the mess.
The first thing that came to me after seeing this morning’s video was how rich a symphony is. Each of the musicians are wonderful in their own right; however, if they add their collective talents, they offer up a symphony of grand proportions. Today, I shall think as a symphony…how can I be part of something greater than I can ever achieve. I think this same thought holds true with prayer. Certainly we can pray alone and God honors those prayers. But, I find praying in a group to be an incredible way to experience God and the power that comes from collective praying. We have been asked to think about ourselves throughout this series. Today we are asked to think about ourselves “in concert” with others. I am so “content!”
I often look around me for inspiration for prayer. Perhaps I should devote some time looking within.
My needs are not MY needs. My needs reflect the needs of those with whom I am in community, whether formally or informally. I took some time this morning to connect with people whom I am not in daily or regular contact. The responses were awesome. It reminded me that my prayers are not offered in isolation, that praying with others including sharing feelings of gratitude multiplies the effect of prayer in the world.
Our Wednesday discussion group at our parish church is reading Henri Nouwen’s Spiritual Formation this Lent which encourages Visio Divina – looking at icons and paintings. We are trying this out. In addition to to singing the psalms in plainchant each Sunday, I’m finding this 10 minutes of silent looking and then hearing and sharing what others are experiencing very helpful.
I love to listen to recordings of chant, and occasionally favorite old hymns from childhood. In my younger years I sang in our small church choir. I no longer have a voice. Now in another denomination, but for almost 50 years, the hymns do not speak to me. The language is often closed and exclusionary, even militant. Since I cannot sing, even what beauty there might be in the music itself is not available to me. To be reduced to listening to a congregation singing words I cannot believe God would choose is not for me a good worship experience. Obviously, this is not always the case and there are hymns I love and that ring true. I most likely have offended many with this response. But sometimes I wonder if those ever really read all the words of the hymns they choose.
From time to time I too cannot sing part of a hymn because I do not have the same belief as the words profess.
If I stop and intentionally notice those around me in worship or conversation or other gathering, I begin to sense that some carry burdens from their posture or sighs or tears. And that noticing spurs me on to pray for them and to keep them in my thoughts as I go through my day.
Being attuned to those around us means listening, observing, being present to them. In that way, we may hear, see or feel things that we otherwise would miss in all our busyness. In that experience we have opportunity to offer an ‘arrow prayer’ of thanks or intercession. I pray that I will be attuned to those around me today, less judgmental, and more reflective of God’s grace.
Mark Twain, in “The War Prayer”, writes:
“Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer.”
I pray for the grace to hear the unspoken part of the prayers in all the hearts around me.
I sing in my church choir and in a community chorus. I have noticed how different I feel when I am just listening to my own voice, absorbed in hitting the right notes, in contrast to when I am listening to how our voices blend together as a whole. The former is isolating and focused on accomplishment. The later makes me aware of being part of something bigger than myself which I think is the way God wants us to think of our sojourn here on earth.
I can join with them in support of what they need, and intercede for them in what they need, but I also need to monitor how I respond both outwardly and inwardly to their need.
There is strength in numbers
Paying attention to others…that will take discipline. I will try…
I agree that praying together in the monastic choir is a beautiful illustration of how we might be attentive to others around us and let that shape our prayer. Today, I will play close attention to my wife and step son as we all make preparations to bury her mother tomorrow, trusting that I will support them better in prayer and action if I listen deeply first.
Being in touch with others requires us to listen more and talk less. It insists that we think more before we respond if we respond at at, and being attuned to others highlights the silence that is required to to think before we answer. It slows us all down and helps make us more intentional in what we say and how we act. In time and with God’s help, I can be more deliberate with others and myself
How very true for me, “…being deliberate with myself.” To really listen without analyzing or playing our own issues requires patience. Finally I am moving in that direction. Singing is not my forte, dancing & being in tune w/my husband has given me a better sense of self w/a realization of using my gifts. In all an understanding of the other is imminent.
This forum provides unity for me today. I am cut off by snow, and everything has been canceled.
I have friends who feel that worshiping God by being in the fields and woods is more spiritual for them. They feel that they do not need to pray in church. But for me being together with others in worship is most important. But it’s better if I don’t sing unless there are enough people to drown me out!
Amen! When I sang in the children’s choir, the choir master used to look at me and say “make a joyful noise unto the Lord!” I have faith that the Lord heard what was in my heart, vice what was coming out of my mouth!!
Life with a frail husband sometimes gets scary; today’s prayers need to be shaped with great love, compassion, strength … every day’s prayers, in fact.
I think I might discover that what I think I am hearing might not be what another is saying.
Yes ! …. So True .. Thank you for that.
By consciously hearing what those around me are saying, and feeling, it allows me to stop, and say a short prayer to address their needs.
It also makes me more mindful to what kinds of support they might appreciate from me.
Being with others shapes my prayer in two ways: 1) I hear their joys and sorrows and pray for them; and 2) I’m aware of different ways of looking at the world and reflect upon my own world views. When praying in church, I feel my prayers are magnified because I’m surrounded by like-minded believers and feels there’s a strength, a heft to the prayer.
I think that it is good to remember that prayer is both private and corporate. We need to call to mind that we are members of His mystical body and that the world needs our prayers as much as we do as individuals. Regarding the life that monks share, I seem to remember a Zen saying to the effect that all stones in a single bag eventually become smooth.
We have two villages, 15 miles apart, along the St. Lawrence River, and we share a rector. Now, due to prayer, hard work, patience, understanding….and “intentionality”…..we have achieved unity in purpose, direction, and love for each other and for God.
I’m just developing and deepening my prayer life, so mostly I’ve prayed alone. And this is how I’m most comfortable right now. The most I can say is that when I know someone needs a prayer, I offer it for them, though not directly with them. Something that I need to work on, as I’m learning the importance of community; being there for others as well as (the hard part) letting others be there for me.
By bringing God into the conversation either silent or spoken…it changes them…changes me…for the better! A lyrical skipping of stones in the vast ocean of God’s love!
This will allow me to truly see and hear what is happening to others around me. Then I can help them. Listening is an true art and really shows how much you care.
We share at dinner the best and the worst of our individual day and listen to each other’s feelings about their highlights and low points and I an lift those up to God in silent reflection
To be more selfless.
Notice the spills from my unintentional words and pray for greater awareness of my own speaking and others hearing
What a wonderful illustration of being united with another as we sing. I’ve always been a second alto (never have sung a melody), so my role is to blend in with harmony, not overshadowing the soprano but instead giving a richness to the song that it is impossible to have with only one voice. It is when we both hit the clearest of notes, on perfect pitch, and with a blended volume, that we sound as una voce. Amen.
I too, second alto…
Never thought of it in this way until today.
Love to sing harmony..maybe that’s why I like camouflage art too! Now I’m thinking of all kinds of people and situations I didn’t start out thinking about….New prayers. Thanks.
I’m a bass, but once in a while we get the melody. I prefer the harmony, though.