Every Monday this winter, Daniel and I have pedaled our way through a spin class. Our instructor is very motivational, choosing popular music with a strong rhythm and syncing it to the workout for inspiration. She’s particularly fond of one song, which she inserts at a sustained, intense and sometimes painful point of the ride.
You’ve probably heard the song. The artists performed it with Madonna at the Super Bowl. The lyrics follow a guy dressing, walking, and working out so girls notice him. Then, after a dramatic pause, the artist sings in his most electronic, come-hither voice: “I’m sexy and I know it.”
This is one of the least sexy moments in my week. I’ve not showered and I am sweating profusely. My nose is often running. The spandex has shuffled. And even were I not in the middle of the gym, the middle of the mirror would reveal a long list of physical flaws to obsess over.
Frankly, I just don’t have the constitution to be sexy. I won’t calorie-restrict and over-exercise. I have limited fashion sense. And I’m a Scot and missionary kid, so I don’t spend enough money on clothes and spa treatments.
Then there’s the voice in my head demanding, “Girl, how old are you that you’re still worrying about this stuff? It’s time to move on. Your body has. Get some personality.”
I am not sexy and I know it.
Doesn’t sound like a prime candidate for music prayer, does it?
However, at that point in the work-out, I have reached the zone. I’ve moved past my physical and mental whining. My body has gotten the message that we’re going to spin for a while. I’m in sync with the music, the other spinners, and the instructor. I know that she’s about to ask me to do something really hard. And I’m equally sure that I will not only try to obey her, I will push myself to success.
God and I are in sync, too. We’re not necessarily having the unified conversation about one thing, but I know that whatever he says to me, I will be able to bear or to do well. Just like in the workout. At that point, I am absolutely convinced of our third promise: I can know the truth in freedom, rather than fear (John 8:31–36).
So when that artist sings, “I’m sexy and I know it,” I laugh. I laugh because I’m not sexy and I know it and I don’t care. It’s the only time in the whole week when I can laugh honestly at that statement. The smirk on my face is absolutely true to what’s inside me. I have perspective: I think neither more nor less of myself than God does. God and I are unified on the matter of me.
And this rather unholy, self-centered song has become music prayer for me.
Hear God’s Voice in Freedom, Not Fear
Read John 8:31–36 and you get the impression that even chosen Abraham was not a son. Even Israel, Abraham’s descendants, whom God refers to as his son when he rescues them from Egyptian slavery (Exod 4:22–23), are nevertheless slaves in God’s household. Beloved slaves, but still slaves.
Why? Because they continue to act like they’re someone else’s child by sinning. This is a hard word to swallow, much less “continue in.” It implicates our claims and our behavior, too.
We all are freed to be inheriting children of the household when we not only believe, but continue in Jesus’ word. Even his hard word. Truth shines a difficult light, but it shows the path to freedom.
How do freed children behave? Like sheep who listen to his voice and follow him (promise no. 2; John 10:27–30). What characteristics do true children inherit? If you haven’t looked up Ephesians 1:2–12 (1st promise), read it to find out what the Holy Spirit guarantees.
Find Your Own Music Prayer
Both the sacred and secular music of Mozart provided a vehicle for multifaceted prayer throughout the work of theologian Karl Barth (1886–1968). Are you a perfectionist, like Barth (1886–1968), or a partyer? You might benefit from this sort of prayer.
You can find a simple method for turning music into prayer here.
This week for A Really Old Fashioned Prayer Meeting:
Look up Ephesians 1:2–14 to discover what change we inherit when we’re freed from slavery to adoption and inheritance.
Listen to the music that catches your ear this week. Really listen. Why does it capture your attention? What is it saying to God on your behalf? What is God saying to you through it?
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1).