land of rest

Land of Rest is a blog of Peter Jenks. Poems, quotes and photos are by Peter Jenks (unless otherwise noted or I miss noting an older post's photo) and are copyrighted, you are free to use these if you acknowledge their source.

Friday, February 20, 2015

the art of prayer

Recently I was asked for a good book on prayer. Many began to race through my head, from the Episcopal denominational book by Margaret Gunthner to the centering prayer work of Richard Rohr, to various devotional works, to classics to Richard Foster’s great piece, Prayer, finding the heart’s true home.  But in reflecting on these works, and thinking that Richard Foster’s would probably be the best as a response to this particular request, I was left with the lack that many of these works have. There is not much said in these works about the importance of creativity in the journey of prayer.  My litmus for a healthy prayer and spiritual life is threefold; one, an engaged and active energy with scripture, two, a deep sense of humor and the ability to laugh at ourselves, and to understand the humor of God, and three, the frequency and depth of one’s singing. If we can sing we can pray. And this for me travels deeper into the larger realm of creativity. I paint because I pray. My portraits are all forms of prayer, a hybrid of icon and portraiture. Each one is more prayer than painting. I have one portrait that I have been working on for more than 10 years, and it is all because my prayers are not letting go, I keep returning and need to keep my prayers for this woman and her child ever before me, and her mother as well. It is all the expression of my prayer.

The activity of prayer is not only our thoughts, nor just our breathing, nor just our actions towards others, but our entire engaged life. It is in our cooking and eating, in our lovemaking and in our play, in our meetings and in all we create. Prayer is the dynamic relationship we have with our pets and with our gardens and with our automobiles and bicycles and with our bodies.

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