How do you pray when you don’t know what to say? This is the question that Jordan Berta (The Unspoken Conversation) and Gerald Flemming (Infinitely More) reflect on in their song Pray with Silence.
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An interview with the Songwriters
by Allison Lynn (Infinitely More)
ALLISON: Thanks, Jordan, for letting me take the interview reins today at The Unspoken Conversation! I’ve been blessed to have a behind-the-scenes seat for the creation of “Pray With Silence”. For those readers who are new to the conversation, why don’t you each tell us a little about yourselves as songwriters?
GERALD: Wrote my first song when I was 5. My Dad put a guitar in my hand when I was wee. I’ve studied with a lot of great writers and teachers in my life, but the best teachers I ever had were my Dad’s ring binders of amazing songs. The best of the best from country, folk, pop written in simple chords that I could play. Love collaborating and co-writing but I also love solo writing. It forces you to try to become at the very least, competent at all aspects of writing and ultimately makes you a better co-writer.
JORDAN: Honestly, I don’t really consider myself a songwriter but rather a communicator. A key to communication is choosing the method in which you deliver your message. Usually for me it is in spoken form but from time to time an idea comes that I feel would be best portrayed through a song.
ALLISON: Jordan, the idea for the song came from you. What was your inspiration?
JORDAN: There was a question that was nagging at my soul “How do you pray when you don’t know what to say?”
Then I discovered an interesting passage about Zechariah (father of John the Baptist) where he lost his voice due to disbelief then sang the praises of God when his voice came back. It became clear to me that sometimes the best thing to do when we don’t know what to say is be quiet before God and let Him provide the words.
ALLISON: The question we’re asked most as songwriters is “What comes first? The music or the lyrics?” So, what came first with this song?
GERALD: Definitely lyric first. We riffed on Jordan’s idea and just really wanted to take the pressure off of people feeling they have to have the perfect conversation with God. That we can be messy, or in this case just fall into the incoherence of silence, knowing God will be able to see into our hearts and understand that prayer. Then, music, I built a groove and the melody came pretty quickly.
ALLISON:. Let’s talk about the recording process. We recorded the song in St. Catharines with producer Brandon Vandendool. Tell us a bit about the experience of bringing together different voices and talents to create the track.
GERALD: Jordan, by his very nature is a person who brings people together. He is a conduit for fellowship and creativity. We’d all be a little better with a little bit of Jordan’s heart inside of us.
JORDAN: This project included people with a very eclectic mix of skills and the humility to partner together towards a greater goal. I’m blessed to have had this team to work with.
ALLISON:. There’s a long tradition of silence as a faith practice. How do you each incorporate silence into your faith walk?
GERALD: Morning is my contemplative one on one time with God. Allison, is more of a night person so she always sleeps late. I’m up at the crack of dawn and that time is silence. Its reflection and studying and journaling. And then when I genuinely feel like I know who I am in relation to God, then I begin working and playing and scribbling.
JORDAN: Even though I consider myself an introvert, true quiet time has been a challenge for me. It has been a learning curve to stop myself from constant action, even when alone. Now I am starting to find it easier to be truly silence, usually either before falling asleep or just after waking up.
ALLISON:. The Unspoken Conversation looks at the intersection of faith and mental health. How do you see this song reflecting this idea?
GERALD: People are terrified of silence. There are times when the voices inside of us get out of control and pick away at us, particularly if they’ve been allowed to fester in the darkness. Silence is a wellness practice. It’s been something that Monks have done since the advent of prayerful time. I never feel closer to God than through a healthy digestion of silence and beauty. Silence lets us hear Him clearer, and beautiful daily miracles (As I write this, I’m currently surrounded by the mountains in Banff) humble us, be it the mountains, or the brilliant painting on the wing of a butterfly.
JORDAN: Many of the challenges that people have shared with me have a root in not taking time to process what is going on inside. Silence is a critical part of dealing with matters of the heart because constant distractions won’t allow you to diagnose the problem or find the solution.
ALLISON: How do you think silence can influence mental wellness?
GERALD: Once it becomes a daily practice it can help excise the noise that we are inundated with in the modern world. That noise is a form of madness. I think it becomes addictive. People are willing to sacrifice peace for momentum, and I think that is really dangerous. The world is always trying to convince us we are what they want us to be. In silence we can wipe those words off of the board, and through discernment find more powerful, edifying words to empower ourselves with.
ALLISON: That’s just awesome. So now, we have this beautiful track recorded. What are you goals with this song? What would you like it to do in the world?
GERALD: I hope people listen to the words and, if they don’t know it already, they give themselves permission to let their quiet do the talking.
JORDAN: My desire is to see people become not only more self aware but also aware of the movement of God in their lives. Silence is often required for this to take place.