By Gail Dudley
Think about how a symphony orchestra functions. The most important person in an orchestra is the conductor. The conductor does not play an instrument at all. His job, at its most basic level, is to indicate the beat of the music. With each movement of the baton, the conductor is instructing with imaginary points that indicate the beat in the bar the orchestra is playing.
Relate this to prayer and imagine that you are in the orchestra and Jesus is the conductor. When you start following his beat, then your heartbeat begins to line up with his heartbeat, and you will find yourself praying what he is praying. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done….” You find that when you pray under his direction you are focused on his thoughts, his will, and find that your thoughts are no longer as important as before. Your mind is now focused on Jesus.
So often people will ask, "How shall I pray"? The conductor will prepare you. The conductor’s role in the orchestra is to be responsible for the preparation, the rehearsal, and for making interpretative decisions, such as whether a certain passage should be slow, fast, soft, loud, smooth, aggressive, and so forth. He will speak to you boldly, compassionately, through a whisper, and you just have to follow - to be obedient. Through the reading of his Word, you will know to wait patiently, move swiftly, to be still, and so on.
A conductor of an orchestra communicates decisions both verbally during the rehearsal and during the performance, using different movements, gestures, and expressions. During prayer, you will know what Jesus is communicating with you because you have spent time with him.
Once you understand how to follow the conductor, then you can participate in the symphony. There are usually four movements to a symphony. With a typical symphony, the first movement is a fairly fast movement, weighty in content and feeling.
The second movement of a symphony will be slow and solemn in character. As we pray, we may find a time when we are quieter, slower. The pounding of the heart slows down. There’s room for silence—you may no longer be in a hurry. You have decided to take your time and watch and pray.
The third movement of a symphony can be interchanged with the second movement. When we pray, we may find ourselves in a hurry in the beginning but, later, get with God and slow down because we are finally resting in his arms.
The fourth movement in a symphony creates the finale. The finale is made up of a variation where the theme is elaborated, developed, and transformed. Although a symphony may seem difficult in our natural hearing, it’s easy to understand for those who are a part of the orchestra.
With Christ, we may think this journey of prayer and worship is difficult, but it’s a beautiful journey once we get in rhythm with Christ.