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One Form of Christian Prayer: Communing in Silence

Polymer Clay Relief Sculpture by Sara Joseph of a seated woman
Be Still and Know, Detail, Polymer Clay Relief Sculpture, Sara Joseph

For the Christian, prayer should be as involuntary as breathing - a steady, rhythmic, vital, life-sustaining part of all our waking moments.

It would be ludicrous to only breathe when we perceived a need! Yet prayer is often considered merely an opportunity to voice our needs. It can be so much more!

Listening to God opens up new avenues for exploration. In art, the nonverbal gives birth to the visual and other sensory expressions. 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.

There is much in this form of prayer that is still unexplored, which would greatly benefit Christian visual artists. Communing in the spirit with His Spirit is a worthy pursuit. Yet it is easy to get busy with the activity of art. Disengaging our spirits from the process may seem impossible. If we don't, our art may take on a dry and mechanical quality, far removed from bearing the life giving signature of the Holy Spirit.

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.

Polymer Clay Relief Sculpture of a seated woman by Sara Joseph
Be Still and Know, Polymer Clay Relief Sculpture by Sara Joseph

Spending a few moments being absolutely still and 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. Time spent at your easel, or wherever you create art, will 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 difficult to simply be still. Every fidgety muscle in me would beg to move. I would remember innumerable things that needed to be done, my phone would buzz announcing a new email, I'd remember a chore that needed my attention... Silly distractions to rob me of my time of sweet fellowship. You too will face the same challenge. Refuse to yield to it. I assure you that overcoming temptations for fruitless action by 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 seeking empty solitude. It is not even the simple stilling of physical activity; it is a state of stillness of the spirit so that the Holy Spirit is welcomed.

Stillness becomes purposeful waiting for non-verbal instructions from the Divine source from whom true creativity stems. It is our 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 time well spent. Only then will conversation ensue that results in the making of genuine, heartfelt art. These conversations are often lighthearted and full of playfulness. Yet sometimes they possess 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 then find yourself surprised at what emerges from your hands!

Keep in mind that God desires to lead you. Whatever ability you possess is His gift to you to be shared. Seeking Him in exercising it honors Him. Too often our pursuits as artists remain bogged down in concerns of design, color and technique. While those are important considerations, our work is meaningful only because of our time with Him.

It helps to remember that apart from Him we can do nothing. John 15:5

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. Wait. Pause. Trust in the rewards of waiting.

Ignore any voice that screams at you saying, ‘Don’t just sit there, do something!’

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 and the results will surely surprise you! Perhaps you will be interested in discovering how to prayerfully develop your Imagination.

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