An Artist's Prayer

Video still from U2 "Joshua Tree" anniversary tour concert, Houston, Texas

I found the prayer below in a box full of knickknacks from my Hope Chapel days.

This summer my wife has tasked me with the job of processing 30 years' worth of memorabilia. Each afternoon, for one hour max, it's two boxes: boxes full of cassette tapes (featuring bands like Petra, Angelica, John Michael Talbot, Idle Cure, Out of the Grey, Keith Green); hand-written letters from my high school pen-pal in Austria, on onion-thin, blue airmail; photographs of plays I'd performed in; a bumper sticker with a quote by Che Guevara; copies of The New York Times and The Dallas Morning News, dated September 12, 2001, the day after "9/11"; a Scantron test from a biology course I took at the University of Texas; a Kodak slide carousel full of images of Jesus throughout the centuries; a medal I won in the Mount Nebo 10k race in Dardanelle, Arkansas, at age 17.

I’m not quite sure where the following "Artist's Prayer" comes from, nor who wrote it. I searched on Google but nothing came up. It might have been something that a member of HopeArts, where I pastored for nine years, had written; or perhaps it was given to me by somebody I can no longer recall. I like the rhythm of the prayer, though, with its "Remember, O Lord" refrain. I like the concrete imagery as well as the active verbs. And the dogged quality of the requests stands out. It's an ecclesially and theologically specific prayer, to be sure. I imagine certain Christians might take issue with particular terms or ways of addressing God.  Either way, and with whatever idiosyncrasies accompany the rhetoric, it’s a prayer worth praying, I think.

If you know who wrote it, please do let me know. I'm happy to give credit to whom credit is due. Here is a link to another collection of prayers for artists and prayers of artists.


The music I listened to my senior year of high school and freshman year of college


ARTIST’S PRAYER

O Creator God, you have filled the world with beauty: your divine presence can be seen in all your works. Open our eyes to behold and experience life with the richness and fullness intended for each one of us by you; that by rejoicing in your whole creation, we may learn to serve you with thanksgiving and gladness, for the sake of him through whom all things were made.

O Lord Jesus Christ our God: be ever present with your servants here who seek, through gifts of art which you have generously bestowed, to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth. Empower us by your Holy Spirit to work the works of conceptual innovators, visual theologians, and skilled technicians; help us to be humbly mindful of your continual help and manifold grace.

Remember, O Lord, those artists among us who suffer in the midst of distressing circumstances. Comfort, defend and surround them with your peace. Guide them through these present uncertainties with the confidence that you will never fail or forsake them.

Remember, O Lord, those artists among us who are struggling with spiritual doubts and frustrations; remember those who are ready to abandon the church and institutional religion. Reveal yourself to them anew. Draw their hearts close to you. Rekindle dying passions and a once vibrant faith that they may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you now and forever more.

Remember, O Lord, those artists among us who are creatively depleted, burned out, and stuck. Grant them a fresh vision, renewed inspiration, holy wisdom and plentiful opportunities for continual success.

Remember, O Lord, those friends and patrons of the arts. Grant that their numbers, support and encouragement may multiply; that the work of our hands may continue uninterrupted. Save each one of us from selfish use of what you have given, that together we may accomplish those things to which we have been called.

Remember, O Lord, the secular art community. Increase its reverence for the mysteries of life. Break down barriers of hostility, soften hardened hearts, give the gatekeepers of culture new insights into your purposes and desires. Raise up, in this and every land, evangelists and heralds of your kingdom, to minister to those creative souls who know you now; grant insightful sensitivity to Christians proclaiming the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Remember, O Lord, our brothers and sisters in Christ who have misjudged and unknowingly mistreated us because we are artists. Life the veil from their covered eyes to understand and discern the rightful place of art both within and outside the church. Remove hatred and prejudice from our hearts that we may lead a godly life of concord, always mindful of the grace and patience you continually bestow upon us.

O, Eternal God: grant us to be faithful unto death with the talents and gifts you have entrusted to us. May we live our lives in fervent service to you. May we rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. May we patiently run the race that is set before us until that day when we cast our works of art at your feet, and we hear you say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the reward I have prepared for you.”

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

The art of David Ordóñez Lacayo, Casa Santo Domingo, La Antigua, Guatemala

Video still from U2 "Joshua Tree" anniversary tour


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