Creative Prayer Session #1

Supplies needed:  watercolor paper, pen, acrylic paints

 Welcome to The Maker’s Space.  We are creatures of emotion, and prayer is a conversation of emotion.  In this series of Creative Prayer, we are going to use art to help us pray in a creative way.  Sometimes using words, but most of the time trying to rely on the Holy Spirit to use color and form in order to express our hearts to God.  It may make no sense to you, but you are allowing the Holy Spirit to pray for you. It takes practice to notice your intuitions and to let go of control.

“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for.  But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groaning that cannot be expressed in words.  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:26-28

There are many types of prayer:  thanksgiving, praise, lament, contemplation, meditation, confession….this 5 session series will be looking at different types of prayer and different creative ways to pray them using art.  Session #1 will look at two kinds of prayer, lament and praise. The definition of lament is “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.”

I have always been afraid of lament because I didn’t want to allow myself to go “there”.  But, I learned this summer that lament is a tool that God has given His people, to help manage emotions.  I find that in many different situations, our emotional health is suffering because we are not being taught how to handle our emotions…rage, depression, hurt, loss…to name a few.  Even if you feel that you don't have a traumatic event in your life that you are dealing with right now, we have all gone through a pandemic, and we all have feelings about that common experience that we could tell to God.  Some of you have other stuff that you could also tell to God on your own, as open and honest as you can be.  The psalms show us that God wants our honesty and that He can take it.  "Prayer of the heart, is the heart of prayer."  Charles Spurgeon  Hopefully, we can learn this type of prayer and use it on a regular basis.  Lament is a process that God wants us to use to squish out the poison in our lives when things hurt us so that we can grow and move forward.  Lament is a place that we can pitch our tent for a while, or for as long as we need to, but God doesn’t want us to build our house there.  It was meant as a movement toward God, not just a complaining spiral downward.

Lament is seeing that God enters into our pain, is incarnate with us in our trials, and meets us with His immutable nature.  Lament helps us acknowledge our suffering, to not pretend or deny our plight, but then casts our eyes beyond our pain to our eternal hope and reward.  We can carry sorrow and joy at the same time.

Thus, to do it correctly, there are 3 movements to lament:

1. DIRECT your conversation to God.  Lament is not directed towards our enemies, towards our suffering, or towards our pain.  We direct our conversation to God, who is the One who hears us.  We acknowledge that God is sovereign in all things, He brings about the circumstances in our life, and He is the One in control.  Lament is a gift for God’s children, and is part of the blessing of relationship with Him.  So, first, speak to God and call Him by one of His many names.  Approach the throne boldly through Jesus, and take advantage of that privilege. In this Psalm it is verse 1.

2.  DESCRIBE your suffering and your pain to Him.  Name your emotions.  Name the unnamable and acknowledge what you are going through and try to describe it.  If you can’t, sometimes scribbles or color or shapes or design can help.  In this Psalm is is verses 2-4

3.  DEPEND or trust on God for help and hope, because you believe that He hears you.  We don’t simply pour out our sorrows and pain before God and end there.  Rather, we then turn to the gospel of Jesus to find help and hope in our suffering.  We turn a corner, and we speak the gospel of peace and hope to ourselves, and turn to Jesus for His comfort and His perspective and we ask Him to act because only He can do anything about it.  We also, DWELL on God’s faithfulness and His character.  This is meant to turn your perspective around to focus on God not focus on yourself. Psalm 13:5-6

The purpose of lament is to drive us to God.  As we turn to Him, He is already there at the door.

“True community arises when the sharing of pain takes place.” Henri Nowen

Suffering is like a song, it needs to be heard to the end, to hear its beauty.

This is the process of true community with God and also the process of movement.

At the core of every problem that causes pain is loss.  Time is need to adapt to the loss.  Grief is the process of how to deal with the loss and how the soul can grow through loss.  We don’t “get over” loss, we grow into loss and learn how to begin to wear it better.  We carry loss inside of us for the rest of our lives.  We want to wear losses until they fit better.  Naming helps them fit better along the way.  

Just as a side note: {Anxiety is the “thought” of loss, not actual loss]

Let’s pray, and slow down and focus our thoughts.  Close you eyes and slow your breathing.

“WHEN YOUR WORLD LOOKS DARK and threatening, come to Me. Pour out your heart to Me, knowing that I’m listening—and I care. Find comfort in My sovereignty: I’m in control even when global events look terribly out of control. Actually, many things are not as they should be, not as they were created to be. You do well to yearn for perfect goodness—someday those longings will be wondrously satisfied. 

IN ORDER TO HEAR MY VOICE, you must release all your worries into My care. Entrust to Me everything that concerns you. This clears the way for you to seek My Face unhindered. Let Me free you from fear that is hiding deep inside you. Sit quietly in My Presence, allowing My Light to soak into you and drive out any darkness lodged within you.”

Jesus Calling

Here is one of the Psalms of lament.  There are many.  Copy this one, or use it as a guide and fill in some of your own words.  Write it any way but linear.  Make a squiggle line or curve and follow the curve of the line.  Or write is in different parts of the page.  Block out the whole Psalm in a creative pattern.  Use ink and the watercolor paper.

“O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die. Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall. But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.”

Psalms 13:1-6 NLT

Now, we will use color to convey praise and hope, even when we don’t immediately feel it.  We can choose joy and choose to praise and dwell on the character of God.  Our paintings can carry multiple emotions;  suffering and hope, present awareness and memory, anger and relief, a desire for vengeance and forgiveness and healing.

Turn you paintings upside down, which is a physical representation of how we feel…and we are going to paint the negative space.  We will go into praise and dwelling in God’s character, by closing your eyes and asking God to give you a color.  Mix the color on your own.  Start with that color and place it where you feel like it should go on your negative spaces.  Let your intuition lead you.  I would like you to play with color by blending colors and making new colors. You can use acrylic paints or watercolor, or crayons or colored pencil.  Mixing primary colors makes secondary colors and you can change the hue by adding white and by adding more or less of the colors that you are mixing.  If you mix opposite complimentary colors, you will get a dark mud or shadow.  You don’t necessarily have to think of a design.  Just paint the negative space and play with the colors.  You can paint over the words or not.  You can spray water or “tears” to blend whenever you want.  Spray the back of your paper to keep it from curling up on you.

Let us know if this has been a helpful exercise and send us your art @

Excerpts taken from the Gospel Coalition Canada and teachings from Jerry Root and Barrett McCray.


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