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Drudgery divine

17 October 2014

Daniel Wolpert continues his series on prayer

AS WE turn in prayer to God, we become vessels of creative energy and desire. We long to give expression to the gift we have received, and, as we do so, the act of creation becomes a prayer in itself.

Artists talk about seeing things in their head, or hearing songs; they are called to create out of nothing, just as God created out of nothing. Since prayer connects us to God, creativity becomes a prayer prac-tice.

Unlike other prayer practices, this practice has no set form; there are literally infinite ways to "do" creativity, because God gives us all unique abilities. I will outline here a general overview of how this practice can work, giving some examples. For those of you who cannot imagine doing this practice on your own, the group setting may be valuable.

We start with the realisation that we are already doing the practice: many activities we label "work" or "chores" or "the drudgery of life" actually hold potential as creative endeavours.

So, an essential part of the practice is bringing your awareness and the skill of noticing into daily life. What are some of the things that you are already creating - a family, a church, a job environment, a sports team? If you were to make a list of all the possible starting-points for creative prayer, it might look something like this:

• Decorating your house or room

• Getting dressed

• Art in school or other settings

• Cooking

• Your ministry or other job

• Activities in which you and your friends participate

• Writing projects

In all of these undertakings, the "greening power" of God is present and active. The practice begins as you see that you are already involved in the creative process. If you are already conditioned to say "No" to creativity, you must ask God to help you overcome this obstacle.

After you have made clear your desire to know God in creativity, the next step in this prayer practice is to start noticing what creative activities naturally draw your interest. You may be attracted to the traditional arts, or maybe you love to garden, sew, or organise social events.

As you open yourself to the all-pervasive reality of the creative power of God, you begin to see creativity blossoming everywhere. For example, a woman who is just beginning to take her faith life more seriously talked to me about writing thank-you notes to people who had expressed sympathy or been helpful at the time of her mother's death.

She told me that she had always dreaded this sort of task before; but, on this occasion, she found herself wanting to take the time to say something special and particular to each person.

She found herself imagining the person she was writing to, remembering what she or he had said to her at the funeral. Then she would think of a unique message for each individual. As she did this, she found herself filled with a wonderful sense of joy and appreciation and love.

In this creative activity, the woman had connected with the power and presence of God's love, and the experience enriched not only her, but also those around her.

So, seek out the activities that draw you in. Continue to notice the obstacles that arise: "This is a waste of time," "I can't draw," and other such interior self-talk. Ask God to help you overcome them, and give you the courage to continue your creative endeavour. Then go on with your activity.

This is the third of four edited extracts from Creating a Life with God: The call of ancient prayer practices by Daniel Wolpert (BRF, £7.99 (CT Bookshop £7.20); 978-0-85746-244-2).

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