Originally written by Cameron Abernethy for St John’s Church, Edinburgh
I wonder when was the last time you allowed yourself the opportunity to create a new work of art, a painting, a doodle, a sculpture or a collage. As adults, we can all too easily become caught up in a world solely occupied by serious words, and forget our God-given capacity to play and create. Whenever I raise the possibility of using art as a way of praying, I can see the look of fear that drifts over some people’s faces. For them, like myself, art was something for those individuals with talent rather than a way of expressing our own unique creativity. But using art as a form of prayer is not about demonstrating our artistic skills or talents but instead it is a way of expressing our relationship with God. For we know that art can offer a new perspective and fresh insights as well as an opportunity to release our emotions.
How to use art as prayer?
- I take a moment to be quiet and still in the presence of God, allowing my mind to notice how I am feeling in this moment. I decide on the passage of scripture I wish to use as the inspiration or starting point for my prayer today. I might read it over several times or play it on an mp3 player as I create.
- I take time to gather the materials and tools I wish to use for my art today. I let myself just hold them in my hand. I might feel the paper I am going to draw / paint on or allow the clay / collage materials to move between my fingers.
- When I feel ready, I might begin to draw, paint, mould or cut out shapes, patterns or images. I don’t begin with the intention to create something specific in this time, but rather allow the Spirit of God to direct my thoughts. It is not about getting it right but letting my mind just wander as I create my art.
- I give myself the time I need to create my art, probably in silence to allow myself to be fully aware of God’s presence with me. I might drift back to the scripture passage during this time to revisit thoughts or ideas.
- When my art feels finished, I just stop and look at it for a few minutes. I might notice what feelings are present within me as I look or touch it. I might think about how this speaks to me of my relationship with my Creator. I might wonder if I need to ask God for forgiveness or healing in this moment of my life. I close by giving thanks to God for this time.