Monday, October 21, 2013

Writing and Prayer.

St. Onuphrius - Jusepe de Ribera

How does our prayer life, our relationship with God, affect our writing?  Too often our lives are compartmentalized. But what is the point of a prayer life that doesn't affect our life?

Few Christians would actually admit that they don't pay attention to God in their normal life. It has become popular to see the Christian life in holistic terms. We want see how their faith affects all of reality more and more. That's a good thing. It adds to our testimony. However, we still struggle with compartmentalized baggage.

Again and again, we put our prayers in the Prayer Box, and our writing in the Writing Box. To a certain extent this is right, prayer and writing can be different things. However, if we block God out of an area of our life, we steal from Him. We are His children, and He is loath to lose even one part of us. 

 So how do we let Him in? All relationships naturally affect our writing in some way, but the one we share with the indescribable Triune God has to rank the highest. The answer is simply to spend more time with God than anyone else. Then He will take precedence in your writing.

  Although it would be cool if God decided to split the sky and give us instantaneous, perfect writing, we will probably still have to learn the rules of grammar, style and character building. God didn't give us heads so we could make targets out of them.  Instead, prayer will make us more Godly writers. It will help us avoid worldliness in our writing-- and conversely--will help us avoid preachiness, which often comes from attempts to shove God into the story without relating to Him.

We can have the strongest prayer lives in the world, and still write stories that make William Shakespeare cover his ears and curse in his grave. Praying is not a magic token that we can exchange for anything we want. It is a conversation with God, who will do what is best for us despite our waspish complaints.

In the end, praying will give us satisfaction while we write. The Holy Spirit illuminates the dark portions of our hearts, the more we commune with Him, the more clearly we will see reality. Readers will pick up on that fulfillment. Think of Lewis, Bunyan or Chesterton, and what gave those authors the ability to affect so many with their work.  

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