This week I’m featuring Chris Tiegreen, author of Creative Prayer (Multnomah), and editor of indeed magazine from Walk Thru the Bible (www.walkthru.org).
LM: You write in Creative Prayer that sometimes words are not needed when we pray. Explain what you mean by artistic prayer and give us some examples of how we can pray this way.
CT: A picture is worth a thousand words, right? So why do we fumble around with a thousand words when we pray? There’s nothing wrong with verbalizing our requests, of course, but why stop there? I think sometimes we tend to explain to God every detail of our prayers, when really we could say, “Lord, you see this picture in my mind? That’s my prayer.” And it’s even better to draw it, write it, sing it, dance it, act it out, or whatever. When we do that, we won’t be able to pray detached prayers, and we’re not likely to forget them the next day. The more senses are involved, the more engaged we are with God and the more we’ll remember our prayers and His answers.
Some people are reluctant to do this because they don’t think they’re creative or talented, so they think their prayers will be insufficient. But the truth is that our words are also insufficient. Paul made that clear (Romans 8:26). Our creative prayers are like a three-year-old bringing mommy a drawing, and she can’t even make out what it is. Does she reject the art? No, she sees the heart behind it and she loves it. I think that’s how it is with God.
LM: What are some ways we can communicate more creatively with God through our senses and circumstances?
CT: Again, the sky’s the limit. (Actually, not even the sky is a limit!) But for a few starters, here’s what I like to do:
• Write your sins or trials in the sand and watch the waves wash them away, asking God to give you a fresh start.
• Eat an ethnic dish to identify with a certain nation, as though it’s becoming part of you. (You are what you eat, right?) Then pray for that country not as an outsider but as its representative.
• With whatever instrument you have, play a melody that reflects your current situation. Then play one that reflects what the situation would look like if God intervened. That tune becomes your prayer.
• Draw a picture of your heart and write all your ugliest attitudes on it. Then erase them and ask God to do the same. Or better yet, throw the whole drawing in your fireplace and ask God to refine and purify you with the flame of His Spirit.
• Act out one of your prayers. You may look like a bad mime, but that’s OK. God won’t mind at all — He’ll love it.
Coming soon: Robin Parrish, creator and editor-in-chief of INFUZE magazine, which “examines the place where art and faith intersect,” and author of two novels, including the brand new Fearless