Art as Prayer
But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. --Isaiah 64:8
God is a creative God. You can see it in the way he created the earth and everything in it. From individual snowflakes to each unique person, God delights in His creation. We can create as a way of praising Him.
I am not particularly artistic. I love and appreciate art, and I have fun creating, but I would not call myself an artist by any means. However, I have encountered many people in my life who have used their art as prayer time. When I was in college I heard a classmate talking about how there was an artist in the back of their church painting as the congregation worshipped and the Pastor preached. My uncle does woodworking and when I offered to pay him for a desk he made for the first home we bought he declined payment and told me that woodworking was his favorite time to pray. That has always been inspiring to me.
When I started praying creatively with my kids I knew I wanted to try praying through art, but I was a little stuck and felt uninspired. I didn’t know what to say to them or how to start. I found the best way to start was by giving my kids the freedom to create. My kids are far more creative and imaginative than I am, so all I had to do was give them the tools and encourage them to focus on God.
We tried this prayer exercise using window markers. But you can use paint, crayons, markers, clay, chalk, whatever your kids have fun with!
Turn on some quiet worship music and gather your art supplies and your kids. Instruct your kids, “We are going to pray in a really special way. We are going to praise God through our art! God loves when we are creative and use our imagination to think about Him. So I want you to think about God. Think about what he has done for you, what you love about Him, or what He loves about you. And then just draw whatever comes to your mind.” Give them some time to think and then draw. Ask them questions along the way. When your kids seem done, sum up what they drew and why.
For example: My 3.5 year old son, Griffin, drew a cross, “Jesus died on the cross but then he came back.” My 6 year old, Calvin, jumped in and helped him to draw Jesus on the cross. Griffin then said, “But why did he die?” Calvin, who is the best theologian I know, responded “So we can live forever!” I then asked, “Is there something we can draw to represent that he came back?” And together we decided to draw a big sunburst around the cross with Jesus on it. During that same session, Calvin drew a bull. He loves animals and wanted to thank God for creating bulls. So we celebrated Jesus’ gift of salvation and his creation of animals.
Don’t feel frustrated if your kids start drawing random things or they can’t quite connect the two. This type of prayer is pretty abstract and can take time. Just try your best to be encouraging and keep them focused on God and eventually it will become easier.