Pinterest, prayer ruts & the holy creativeCarla Harding - 12 Aug 2015
Some years ago I did a little study on Jesus’ prayer life and what I found was, to be honest, frustrating...
Part of me was looking for a secret formula for powerful prayer: stand like this, arms extended thus, recite verse, claim promise, repeat four times whilst hopping on one leg and shazam...powerful encounters and moves of God the likes of which Jesus saw often.
I wanted to experience that kind of presence and power, and I sort of hoped there was an easily repeatable model. Instead, I found that though Jesus was consistent on the heart of prayer – Spirit filled, Father connected, full of faith and with great sincerity (among other gems) – the how showed notable variety.
He prayed spontaneously, in daily rhythms, with joy, in tears, with words, in silence, alone, with friends, in the Temple, on the street, on his feet, on his knees, with mud & spit, and with sweat like blood. So was He consciously resisting giving a formula?
Jesus prayed in the Spirit, on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests. The Spirit was His constant and ours, but the how and when of prayer seems to be open to experimentation.
Even if we don’t see ourselves as creatives – we are made in the image of the Creator God. Innovation and experimentation is in the nature of plumbers, teachers, parents, students and every one of the 7 billion works of art the Lord has walking this earth. We get creative in the way we work, communicate, problem solve, make friends, parent and learn.
So why not get creative in the way we pray?
Personally, creativity has been a lifeline for my conversation with God. I’ve had my highs when the presence of God has been incredibly tangible, I’ve had some lows where my prayers are reduced to few words and a lot of emotion - but, in reality, 90% of my prayer life is the day-to-day, sometimes mundane stuff that falls between.
Trying new ways to pray has kept me interested, reliant on the Spirit, and alert to God’s presence. It’s broken me out of my empty religious ruts and taken me outside of my comfort zones. So, if you want to try something new and creative in your prayer life, here are five places you can look for inspiration
1. Look up
“Lord, teach me to pray,” an echo of the disciples’ words, is my repeated request. The greatest guide to combating atrophy and breathing new life into prayer has been the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to show you new ways to connect and converse with God.
2. Look around
Who do you know who has a deep and alive prayer life? Ask them how they pray and try it. Look to other churches and denominations for their approach – what’s familiar to some can be revolutionary to others. Maybe you’ll learn something in experimenting.
3. Look online
We’re here to help you so check out the pages of prayer ideas available to you. Find out more about how to learn to pray in a 24-7 Prayer Room.
(If you're a fan of Pinterest we have boards to give you visual ideas for getting artistic and interactive in prayer. You can find us here - or at the bottom of this article.)
4. Look back
I’ve found great depth in exploring the practices of the monastic and mystic heroes and heroines of our faith. They may have lived centuries ago but their ways of praying and pursuing God have brought me fresh life. Explore a few ancient forms of prayer here.
5. Look inward
How can our prayers be informed or brought to life by engaging our senses? Eat a strawberry and examine your day, ask God to grow the fruits of the Spirit in you. Walk the streets of your neighbourhood. Observe what you see, hear, smell and sense and let it inform your prayer. Want to pray persistently for someone? What item of clothing or accessory could you wear to remind you to pray every time you put it on or feel its weight?
With the Holy Spirit, the Intercessor (Rom 8:26), as our teacher, try using any sense, any situation and any opportunity to talk to God today.