For the Christian, prayer should be as involuntary as breathing - a steady, rhythmic, vital, life-sustaining part of our waking moments.
It would be ludicrous to only breathe when we perceived a need! Yet prayer is often thought of as simply an opportunity to voice our needs.
It can be so much more. Listening to God opens up all sorts of new avenues for exploration. In art, the nonverbal gives birth to the visual and other sensory expressions. Therefore, listening is usually far more fruitful than speaking.
Silently listening to God yields rewards that are unique to each artist. In my experience, recognizing Him as the author and orchestrator of my final visual expression has made my work a delightful adventure.
For each of us as artists, there is much in this form of Christian prayer that is still unexplored.
So how do I pray? Stepping into my studio, I am always acutely conscious of His presence. I invite Him to become a part of my art. Into my chaotic space, I carry an awareness that any ability that I have, must be subject to His command and pleasure.
Spending a few moments being absolutely still, affirming my dependence on Him, begins a time of sweet fellowship.
If you have never done this, I can promise you that you will be surprised. Your time spent at your easel, or wherever you create art, will be take on meaning and purpose. He will fill you with a sense of mission, even if it is only to find delight in Him.
Initially, I found it hard to simply be still. Every fidgety muscle in me would start begging to move. But I assure you that overcoming the temptation and simply being still, is worth it.
“Be still and know that I am God” Ps 46:10 is a form of Christian prayer that must be a potent weapon in the arsenal of any artist.
This is not the seeking of empty solitude. It is not even the simple stilling of physical activity; it is a state of stillness of the spirit.
This form of Christian prayer becomes the purposeful waiting for non-verbal instructions from the divine source. It is the invitation extended to One who rarely intrudes, but engages willingly, if invited.
Overlook the temptation to consider it a waste of time. Being still before Him, is the most meaningful time that there is. Only then will conversation begin that results in the making of genuine heartfelt art. These conversations are sometimes lighthearted and full of playfulness, or sometimes have a gravity that is sobering.
So pray before you begin. Ask the Holy Spirit to sensitize you to hear. Listen for direction, and then follow even the slightest leading. In all creative endeavors, a few tentative attempts are sufficient to suggest a direction. Let hesitant first steps guide the next, and the next… You will find yourself surprised at what emerges from your hands.
Keep in mind that God desires to lead you. This is His gift and seeking Him in exercising it, honors Him. Too often our pursuits as artists remain bogged down in concerns of design, color and technique. While this is important, our work is meaningful only because of our time with Him.
It helps to remember that apart from Him we can do nothing. Jn15:5
Thoughts flit in and out. Don’t rush it. Trust Him to be responsible for the outcome.
Sometimes when the silence seems deafening, in our eagerness for action, we rob ourselves of the discoveries that He may have had for us.
Ignore the voices that scream at you saying, ‘Don’t just sit there, act!’ Instead, do just sit – don’t act immediately. When you do act, let your actions be deliberate – a prayer, a conversation, a discourse between you and the Creator.
Make this form of Christian prayer the cornerstone of your artistic explorations.