Updated: Sep 22, 2021
There are moments when we notice our deep longing for God. It may be that moment in a crisis when our need shouts at us. Perhaps it is in the quiet, when our pace has slowed and we have turned away from the noise that we hear the quiet whisper of God.
God's love stirs our longing, and our longing for God leads us into prayer. Prayer is essential and meaningful. God has invited us to engage with him: to listen to his heart and to share our own hearts.
Jesus modeled prayer and taught us to pray. The Psalms teach us to pray. There are so many ways to engage this spiritual practice of conversation with God, this conversation that transforms our hearts. God will continually invite us into spiritual practices, tools that shape our hearts and our lives. Prayer, all the ways we pray, are essential tools.
Learning to pray is an ongoing adventure. It is one of the ways our hearts are aligned with God. Years ago I discovered a prayer tool that has been useful, let's call it collage prayer. If my heart feels particularly fragmented and chaotic, I can pray more authentically and honestly if I pray in a "collage" sort of manner. I start with a blank white piece of paper. Then I simply write phrases, emotions, memories, hopes - anything that surfaces in my heart - randomly across the page in a collage - like or brainstorming manner. Sometimes I am surprised by what comes up. Maybe I name anger in my prayer because of conflict, but as I pray I find there is fear hidden beneath the anger. Maybe I write about an ordinary moment, and then gratitude shimmers for God's daily provision. There are often layers to our hearts. One can pray this way by actual collaging - using torn/cut images and words from magazines or printed material.
God is big enough for all that is in my heart. The more honestly I engage with and surrender to God the deeper intimacy I will experience and the greater transformation in my life. So I commit to courage and vulnerability. I choose to resist the temptation to worry about making sense, and I choose not to edit my stream of consciousness. Thus I can more fully offer God my heart and yield to his transforming Spirit. Besides God already knows the state of my heart better than me. As I spend time with my prayer collage I ask the Spirit of God to meet with me, reveal what he desires me to know, guide my understanding, and lead me.
But there are days when a different tool may be useful. Perhaps I am praying a certain kind of discernment or conversation with God. One of the prayer tools that has begun to emerge out of my own prayer and artwork are prayer worksheets. The prayer worksheet is a black and white line image that invites one to pray with a particular image or metaphor rooted in the truths and principles of Scripture. One can write words, use colors, or engage the image in any way that serves conversation with God. Here are a few examples:
The Doorway Worksheet - An image of a doorway that leads to a path. Sometimes as we walk with God we encounter a discernment, or perhaps a repentance. God invites us to an action step that will lead us to the next stretch of our journey with God.
Open-hearted Worksheet - This is a drawing of an open heart. What do you notice in your heart? What do you desire to name and surrender before God. How are you open to the Spirit's leading, comfort, influence, presence.
Garden Worksheet - Our lives are like a garden that God, the Master Gardener, tends. This is a way to reflect on my life. What is healthy? What needs pruning? What weeds need to be removed? What needs to be nourished? What does God desire to plant or produce in me?
These worksheets can be purchased in digital form to be downloaded for personal or small group use (please contact me if you would like to use in a larger context). Click the link above. I also use prayer worksheets in retreats that are offered periodically.
My latest book, Encounter, was designed as a devotional with Scripture, color images, journal pages, reflection questions, prayers, and a black and white prayer worksheet page for each chapter (It can be purchased through my website or Amazon). Click the link to find out more.