Vale of TearsThe Power of Music to Heal
The Power of Music to Heal
Music soothes our soul, sharpens our spirit, and draws us onto the Lord’s wavelength. My friend Alex Robertson is a great believer that music is a wonderful tool for unblocking frozen grief and releasing creativity. It stimulates a different part of the brain than words, touching our worried hearts and freeing our blocked emotions
As Martin Luther recognised, music soothes the soul and calms what he delightfully called “the agitations of the mind” as nothing else can do. All of us can remember times when songs or pieces of music transported us back to specific times and places, hooking us into certain moods or emotions.
Blessed though we are to have access to a wealth of recorded music, we may not always be able to locate a piece of music that expresses precisely what we are feeling. The great advantage of Spirit-inspired music is that we have no pre-existing associations to distract us. We are free to track wherever the Spirit leads.
Alex put his beliefs to the test recently by going into a tough prison to reach men for Christ, armed with nothing except his faith and his violin. Overcoming both his own fears and the curious stares, something extraordinary happened in the spirit realm as he began to play. The power of the Lord worked through the music, making it possible for him to gain first the prisoners’ attention, and then their respect.
The fact that Alex was a classically trained musician and they were not did not matter because what was going on was essentially spiritual rather than cultural.
Unless you are one of those relatively rare people who do not respond to music, or are seriously depressed, there is every chance that the Lord can minister to you through this medium. If you sing or play an instrument yourself, may I encourage you to explore the endlessly creative world of improvisation?
Although I am not a skilled musician myself, I love to sit at the piano and play as the Spirit leads for people who come to visit. The Lord often uses the music to speak to their hearts, and to accelerate the resolution of their inner grief. Chords that are full of tension and slow to resolve often mirror unresolved issues in people’s lives.
Just as discordant sounds and rhythms symbolise extreme emotions, (confusion, fear, guilt and hopelessness), stronger chord sequences affirm trust and hope, and represent people’s desire to take positive steps forwards.
Improvisation can lead to a release of prayer and prophecy, and short-circuit people’s normal defensive mechanisms, whereas more direct questions about their feelings might lead only to embarrassed denials. At the same time, we must be careful not to manipulate emotions. Playing one note repeatedly against another, for example, might release such intense feelings as to be all but overwhelming.
There is no need, however, to limit ourselves to stereotypes. Minor keys are for much more than just expressing sad emotions. After all, many wonderful carols and dances have been composed in them.
Ruth Bright suggests that if we are feeling ambivalent towards someone we are no longer in contact with, we can express our feelings by beating a pair of Bongo drums, while someone else plays improvised music. (She suggests Bongos because they are less likely to remind us of musical classes at school than certain other percussion instruments.)
They give good tactile feedback to the skin and muscles, but none of the sense of using a weapon which a drumstick may give, and which is frightening for those who are only just learning to deal with their blocked anger.13
It is hard for some of us to admit that we are still carrying layers of grief and anger. The way we play the drums may tell another story, and be a better indicator to our real state of mind.
Reflect and Pray
Write down the thoughts of the moment.
Francis Bacon (1600)
Choose a favourite Bible verse and try singing the words. Or take a well known chorus or hymn and let new music flow. Or reach out into the deep and sing a new song from scratch.
Like beautiful wild flowers that bloom for a few short days, much of this music will be purely for the moment. We are singing and playing as an expression of where we are right now – and that is sure to be of both spiritual and therapeutic value.
There may be times, however, when we can return later to craft these songs and music into something of real merit.