Prayer takes different forms during different stages of our walk with the Lord. The forms of prayer we use are closely related to where we are in our relationship with Jesus and the life journey we find ourselves at.
For example, when I was little I sat with my hands folded and eyes closed and I talked about things closest to me – my dad , my mom, my brother and myself. It was simple and straight from the heart. As a pre-teen and teen I wanted time with God. I would sit and try hard to listen or just sit and talk/cry/laugh/argue. In my youth, I would be in different postures at different times, sometimes lying in bed, sometimes while working, but God was a friend, someone I could talk to anywhere and anyhow.
Talking to God was a habit my mother inculcated in me, before we eat, before we study, before we start a test, before we sleep etc. As a young adult , I tried more ways to stay in God’s presence. I loved to draw and so I would draw as I remembered God’s word and as I talked to God or listened or just wondered/pondered over that thought/word. As a young mom I prayed while I nursed while I tried to sleep but couldn’t, why I sometimes slept while I prayed. I believe all of these are valid forms of communication with our Creator God. What matters is our heart. However if our posture or form is being a stumbling block to another we would do better to choose another form or another venue. I know as a young person growing up in India I would not be lying down and praying to my Almighty God in front of adults. While at the same time we need to remember that forcing any one posture or legalizing prayer would only quench one’s ability to express oneself before their Maker. There is value in different postures of prayer that can acknowledge our relationship with our Lord: kneeling before our Master, Bowing before the Almighty; sitting in the presence of our best friend etc.
As a mom I wanted my children to know that communication with God is just a part of normal life. So we started while I was pregnant me reading/pondering/talking with God aloud. As a baby I would pray and sing over them, even as they lay in bed. Once they learned to sit we allotted a special time for focused conversation with God just like we would a tummy time or a play date or a snack time or potty time. It would be just a song they could clap to, imitate actions or smile or a simple prayer over them in Jesus name.
When my children could grasp onto things I gave them crayons and paper as I read stories or I prayed. Here is a picture of one such work when they were 6 and 4.
By the first year we were reading stories, memorizing scripture through song and dance and we would have a time of response which could be in words, drawing , dance, or music (they could make up their prayer in song). Children have an amazing connection with God even before they can articulate it. Here is a link to some of my children’s ‘selah moments’ (Selah in Hebrew means to pause and think about that) – https://artresponse.wordpress.com/selah-moments/nadiras-selah/
By understanding ones developmental stage and creating the right environment one can linger in God’s presence for much longer than we give them credit.
More recently I have discovered that people who find it hard to stay still and pray just need to relax. And a tool of relaxation that has been widely used these days is coloring. I am an artist and so I offer my Selah moments in ink for adults and children to color and ponder over the scripture in focus. I have heard back from many people on its effectiveness as a tool.
So praying creatively is creating that environment where we can simply BE in God’s presence (because He sees us through and through and we see a glimpse of His glory).
Inspirational material: Its not really a book but I had the privilege of working along side a team who put together a series of lectures by a professor at Asbury Theological Seminary, Dr. Reg Johnson. He shares beautiful insights into prayer. He called it ‘learning to pray again’. There are 2 CDs with his lectures and handouts.
The other is as you mentioned “Praying in Color” I attribute Sybil McBeth’s work as ‘my coming-out-of-the-closet-experience’
This post is part of the September Creative Prayer theme.