This article was originally published in Edition (7) of Prayer Magazine,  Jul-Sep 2006.

For this edition of The Zone we have asked our old friend Andy Booth to tell us some of the thinking behind his new album “The Rest Liturgy”.

BUSY, BUSY, BUSY

As a busy pastor and musician trying to balance multiple responsibilities, the constant need to try and stay on top of the “ever-growing-to-skyscraper-proportions” e-mail and cell phone messages was exhausting. The temptation to take the laptop home to “surf the web” for relaxation inevitably led back to some work related activity. Over time I noticed that it was harder to go to sleep as my mind was perpetually engaged, while my wife noticed the detrimental effect that the constant connectivity was having on our home.

I knew it had affected my family when my 3 year old son turned to me one night right before going to bed and said, “Dad…it’s been a hard day…” I said to him, “A hard day at the office?” – He said, “yeah, a really hard day”.

It was a couple of years ago that I realized I had no idea how to find stillness in my life.  I was bouncing from one activity to another like a pinball in a machine. During that time I came across a verse in the Psalms that has began to change my life:

Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God”. 

Of course I had read it before, sung nice songs about it, but God began to speak to me about what a rhythm of stillness might look like. He also gave me a vision to write music to facilitate that process in myself and in others.

The place of being still was a place to meet God. Then something funny happened: every time I took a bath, God would speak to me! I feel almost embarrassed writing about it. Andrew, becoming a prune for Jesus!  So I decided to try an experiment: whenever I would get stuck while working on a sermon [I call it “Creative Constipation” -– you know it is in there, but you just can’t get it out] I would stop trying to write and take a bath. 9 out of 10 times I would find that during that time God would give me the key to the message, something that I had never thought about.

SOAKING

Just as soaking in the bath began to make a big difference for me, I began to wonder if there was a place for “Spiritual Soaking”. I had the term thrown around, but I needed to discover it for myself. So what is soaking and how do you find rest in worship?

Simply, soaking is placing yourself in an environment where you can meet God and He can meet you. It is desire to surpass superficiality and go to a deep place with God. It is not difficult, but it does take effort. You cannot do it yourself, but it will not be done for you. 

In the world of image bytes, we need to be transformed by lingering in the stillness of the knowledge and beauty of God, because it is that knowledge that leads to the discovery of our identity. We label everything and everyone [fat, thin, short, tall, old, young, rich, poor, intelligent, not so intelligent]. We need to be still to hear God’s heart towards us, so that we hear our true identity. If God is a Father, then I am a child. 

THE REST LITURGY

Music can be a good entry point into stillness. One of the reasons I wrote “The Rest Liturgy” is because I felt that there was a need for original instrumental music that would lead people, whether Christian in background or not, to a place where they could experience peace and God’s presence. Much of Christian instrumental music in the past has simply been instrumental re-workings of familiar songs. Although there is a place for that I felt called to do something more original and dynamic. So I started writing music that would not only facilitate this process for me personally, but might be a resource for other people on a similar journey.  Most of the tracks were composed spontaneously on the piano and then I worked on developing textures and arrangements that would be gentle, yet not just musical wallpaper.  I finally wrote melodies for the flute and Irish Tin Whistles.

It was my prayer that “The Rest Liturgy” might facilitate the kind of relaxation and foster an environment where people can connect deeply with God and receive His peace.  Many people have written to me telling me they listen to the CD virtually every day as they discover a new rhythm of peace in their lives.

Since composing “The Rest Liturgy” the music has been used in salons and spas, in business meetings, in large conferences, even as music under local TV weather!  Although it is entitled “The Rest Liturgy” it was not designed to send people to sleep; however, I constantly get letters from people who tell me that they have been struggling with insomnia for months and by listening to the CD before they go to bed they sleep soundly.

ANDY’S TOP TIPS FOR RESTING IN GOD:

  1. Set aside time to be still. Being still isn’t just being quiet
  2. Find the right place to be still. Is it in your bedroom? In the garden? On the cliff top?
  3. Get rid of the things that might distract you:  mobile phone, laptop, radio, other people!
  4. Relax and let God take over.  Surrender all your worries and the things you are thinking about.
  5. Use ways of entering into God’s presence- worship CD’s, Bible passage, writing in your journal, whatever works for you!.

Andy Booth’s CD “The Rest Liturgy is available at most Christian bookshops, from www.wesleyowen.com and you can check it out at   www.therestliturgy.com

SHOULD YOU, COULD YOU, WOULD YOU…

SHOULD YOU TRY SOAKING?

Like Andy, most of us know the benefit of a long, hot bath and the relaxation we get from it. If spiritual soaking is just like that bath- soaking ourselves in the presence of God, resting and refreshing ourselves, then surely that’s a great thing to do.

COULD YOU TRY SOAKING?

How about combining your next bath or shower with a determination to let God meet you and spiritually clean and refresh you just as the bath or shower water is doing that physically for you?

WOULD YOU TRY SOAKING?

Grab your favourite worship CD ( or even get a copy of The Rest Liturgy`) and go off to your favourite place, listen to the music and soak yourself in the presence of God.

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