This past weekend, I attended the Wisconsin SE InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Winter Conference. The theme? Renew: Awakening a creative prayer life. What struck me as an artist was the thought of prayer being creative and using the arts to actually pray. Obviously, as we have seen throughout history, art can be about religion, but I had never thought about praying through your work of art as you create it.
I attended two sessions over the weekend; 1) Listening Prayer and 2) Creativity in Prayer. In Listening, i found it hard to quiet my mind from all of the thoughts bouncing around inside and outside my head and just listen. Thats the life of an artist, to have all of these ideas and thoughts and images floating around and crashing together in your mind. I suggest that all artists do try to occasionally focus their minds though. It helps you to focus more on whatever you choose to create or whatever task you have to tackle next.
“4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever thingsare just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
—– Philippians 4:4-9
In the Creative Prayer Session, I had a greater connection. A passage from the Bible was read to us and we were instructed to just listen and find either a word or a phrase that resonated with us. We were to write that down. The passage was read to us again and we were just supposed to identify the emotions that we were feeling. The passage was read to us for a third and final time while we were supposed to start to draw. Our instructions were to simply draw what we felt; it didn’t have to be a specific shape or anything specifically related to the passage. It was our opportunity to let God speak through us and through our art, either to others or to ourselves.
Pictured above is what I created in that session. We were equipped with a piece of paper and some markers and crayons. The words that struck a chord in my heart and my mind as I listened were: PEACE OF GOD. I believe these words are what caught my attention because in my life, school and relationships, I have not been able to achieve that content peace; more things are piled on top of other things and I have just been stressed. After I had written these words, I started drawing circles, those circles then became bubbles. I thought to myself – why am I drawing bubbles? what do bubbles have to do with the passage? – But I trusted God and what he was trying to tell me through my work. I chose words from the second half of the passage and placed them in the bubbles themselves; REJOICE – EXCELLENCE – TRUE – PURE – LOVELY – WORTHY OF PRAISE.
We were to ask ourselves of our work ‘What do we learn about God?’ and ‘What do we learn about ourselves?’ I had no idea why I had drawn what I did or what it was supposed to mean until I started working through it. Bubbles rise up to Heaven and to God – Bubbles are barriers – We strive for the Peace of God. I got to this conclusion: To attain the peace that God meant for us (the words), we must break the barriers that we make ourselves (the bubbles) in order to ‘Rejoice’, be ‘Lovely’, ‘Pure’, ‘Just’ and ‘Worthy of Praise’. I was amazed at how this spoke to my situation with so many things going on. I need to pop the barriers that I made and give my worries over to the Lord to achieve His peace. This isn’t meant to be easy, as anything worth doing never is.