From my earliest days, I was taught how to pray. I don't remember a time when my parents sat me down and showed me how, but growing up in a pastor's family gave me a model. For each meal, we would say grace. Admittedly, it was the same grace every time. But it was a form of prayer that stated how grateful we were for the meal before us. We would often take turns saying it, but it was always the same one. "Thank you, Jesus, for this food. Amen." Then we could eat.
At church, meetings would start and finish with prayer, and then, quite often, it would happen in the middle of services. In Sunday School, we were taught the Lord's Prayer. Strangely enough, we learned it in the King James Version, which had words I did not understand. But to repeat it, qualified as prayer.
Years later, I became a pastor, and prayer became my job. People from all over the country would come to me for prayer. I would listen to their story and discern what I believed God wanted for that person. It was not something the person engaged with other than listening and receiving whatever happened from that prayer.
As years went by, I became increasingly interested in teaching people how to hear from God, and very quickly, I discovered that prayer became an interactive thing. Up until then, it was very much a monologue, but in teaching people how to hear from God, I discovered that it could be a dialogue.
Fast forward a few more years, and I discovered I like to write. Actually, let me change that; I love to write! After taking five years to write my first book, four more would flow from me in the next twelve months. It became an outlet for me to express myself creatively, and I started to believe I could write my experiences. Somewhere in there, a little thought started gnawing at this whole prayer thing, and creativity was creating a new thought bubble for me to explore.
Could my creativity be my prayer?
Well, in short, yes.
But it was what I discovered about God in the process that blew this thought wide open. I have known many creative people in my life, and I started to ask them if they felt closer to God when they were creating. Each responded instantly with a 'yes.' I followed this thought and processed the work I am doing as a creative. My books are an expression of a conversation that happens primarily with a fictional eagle and the Designer (aka me and God). As I wrote through the stories of Cain and Noah, I discovered that I used my writing to talk with God. I would ask Him questions about some of the biggest theological conundrums, and a wonderful thing happened - a conversation began to flow back to me. I would not get all the answers, but I knew I was hearing things I had not ever thought of.
Topics I would have avoided as a preacher were now ones I could navigate and discover something new about God, myself, or the world we live in. There were times in the Noah story when I would begin a new chapter with a question in my mind. The one that comes to mind is, 'Why didn't God get rid of Satan instead of destroying the world with a flood?' I didn't want to ask it, but something within nudged me, and before I knew it, I was writing. Communication had begun. I had asked a question, and a response was forming in my mind. How can this not be prayer?
If we believe prayer is when people communicate with God, then my creativity was hosting a prayer; a 180000 word prayer!
So, here's more of my thinking: Each of us is created by God. Jesus tells us in John 15 that He also lives within us. If the Creator lives within those He has created, could it be that when we are creating, we are doing what He designed us to do?
I am a musician and I've written many songs over all my years. Long ago, I gained the belief that songwriters are prophets. They take what they are hearing and put it to music. This is their prayer, and when they release their songs to be sung, they are allowing us to listen to their sacred times with God. When you read my books, I am inviting you to listen along to my sacred times with God, my prayer.
So many people have declared they are not creative, and in doing so, might question my thoughts here. But here's a thing... who's told you you're not creative? Has it been because of something you have tried and fallen dismally short compared to the person's masterpiece who sat next to you at school? Could it be that your parents convinced you that you're not creative? Could it be you haven't tried and don't want to fail? Two years ago, I wasn't an author. A year ago, I wrote my first fiction book, and now I'm finishing my third. Each of us is creative, and my desire is for us all to find our own creative expression. And maybe, just maybe, you, too, will discover that prayer happens when you get creative.