Gear and Prayer – What it means for your experience of God in Church
Before or after an event, often while staring in amazement at all of my gear, many people have asked me, “What in the world does all that do?” A great question! “It makes me look important and I really love all the blinking lights, especially the blue ones!”
Okay, seriously, I spend nearly as much time on developing the most professional live sound as I do on writing and rehearsal combined.
Why do I do this?
Over the past decade, I have traveled to many countries and played music for thousands of events and I have found that every church sound system is as different as the people in it. And, it is very likely that your local parish sound is not good. In fact, most church sound systems are unbalanced, antiquated and create a “distance” between the music and you.
Then what is a good sound?
You know it when you hear it! Everyone does. In most of the churches where I have led worship, I find that intimacy and warmth are the two qualities that are the most conducive to prayer. These are often achieved by the clarity of the instrumental and vocal performance, and the quality of every component in the signal chain that brings the music to your ears.
Here’s where it gets technical.
A beautifully constructed guitar (or any instrument for that matter) is a necessary beginning, but thoughtful work and capital needs to be invested in every component. By that I mean every cable, effect pedal, sound reinforcement and microphone. This will effect the experience of prayer! It is not neutral. It is not true that any old microphone, set of strings, or mixer will do the job! It will not!
For those interested, I will leave to a future article the details of the technical choices I have made. It’s enough to know that all of the untold hours spent on the quality of musicianship I provide, the meditations and the subsequent experience you receive in prayer, is gift I offer to God. And it’s for you!
It is my constant concern that nothing I do, musically or through spoken word, ever gets in the way of the conversation between the soul and God.
Okay, so here is the bottom line.
The quality of the tone, the wood of the guitar and the overall intimate presence of the music is a sign of the voice and nearness of God. It is a sign of His constant presence, His still soft voice and His readiness to receive you. Music must be a totally transparent to this reality.