Prayer & Worship in the Studio
I’ve read a lot of blog posts, essays, and a few books which talk about art as worship and art as prayer. Personally I find the subject fascinating, and it brings with it as many variations (which I love) as it does commentators.
Last Thursday evening I’d been invited to a gathering of faith-driven creatives and after a good meal together, catching up with one another, and some Show ‘n’ Tell, we got down to the discussion; (and I paraphrase here), Does prayer and worship show up in your work (if it does at all), and how does prayer and worship affect your art practice? Juicy question, huhhh?
I want to share a few notes I took, which are reactions to comments made by others, and then I’ll talk about my own reaction to the question(s).
We talked about whether or not our artwork is prayer and if the act of making is an act of worship. Some folks saw quite specific distinctions between prayer and worship, saying that for them prayer is a deliberate, intentional conversation with God. Others felt absolutely no distinction between prayer and worship, feeling that they were so closely related as to be almost one experience.
What about following a formal structure or formula in prayer and can we offer prayer in any context? To the latter half, we shared a resounding “Yes, we can pray any time, any where.” But for some there is a need for some kind of structure to prayer, while others saw prayer differently, informally; perhaps more immediate and responsive.
One person said that for her prayer was intentional, serving a deliberate purpose, while worship is more responsive (perhaps more emotional). And, yes, she felt worshipful in the act of creativity.
For me, at this time, most of my prayer life, in any context, is done through my journal writing. Sure, I do pray elsewhere at other times. But my processing of the life-stuff that’s the “bread and butter” of my arts practice is done in my journal. I learned this from author Julia Cameron from her book The Artist’s Way. I unload my spirit and listen to God in my journal writing. It’s a luscious outpouring of often random bits and pieces which He and I look at and make sense of. A whole lot of self-discovery has happened in our “sessions” together.
Often, in my writing time, I will break into worship, usually because He’s given me a discovery or revelation. I may stop right then and there, raise my hands and pray the doxology, or simply proclaim His awesomeness in the form of a Psalm, just how great and wondrous He really, truly is.
For me, worship is part and parcel of my art-making process and experience. Sometimes I’ll be so overwhelmed at what we’re making together I’ll start crying with release and joy – our time together is that intimate. All-ways though, the making is an alchemy of an intimate faith relationship and is my worship of Him. I mean, the very idea that I get to share in one of His most awesome attributes, creativity; I’m often overwhelmed by the privilege.
Let me close with this thought; To my mind we Faith-Driven artists are (or should be) powered by the ever-deepening intimacy and the ever-growing maturity of our relation with God through Christ. That’s what Faith-Driven means – literally driven to action by our faith (relationship) in God.