Friday, September 6, 2019

An Artist’s Prayer

(Photos courtesy of the Art Curmudgeon)

Copyright © Edward Riojas

I’ve often thought it would be wonderful to have a prayer, specifically by and for artists, that could be a daily anchor for my vocation. I’ve often thought that I should sit down and compose such a prayer. Maybe it would be based on some of the great collects. Perhaps it would be patterned after the Lord's Prayer. The notion of doing such a thing, however, seems naive and trite and contrived.

One doesn’t have to search very far to find examples of artist’s prayers. And, um, yes, a good share of them are naive and trite and contrived. Some are so flowery in prose and nebulous in content that they seem exercises in creative writing. Bad bits of fiction they are.

Others ask for ridiculously-stupid things. I ran across one prayer by an artist-type in which the general gist was akin to, “Father God, .... please let me nail that guitar riff on Sunday...” One can almost hear the Divine amplifier feedback in answer to such supplications.

Some carry on in meterless poetry with so many words that the prayer says nothing at all. It asks nothing at all. In the end, it IS nothing at all.

Thankfully, some come close to the mark. The prayer “For church musicians and artists,” listed in the Lutheran Service Book (CPH), has a close cousin in the Book of Common Prayer. I’ll let greater minds determine which influenced which. The LSB’s version reads:

“God of majesty, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven, be with Your servants who make art and music for Your people that with joy we on earth may glimpse Your beauty. Bring us to the fulfillment of the hope of perfection that will be ours as we stand before Your unveiled glory; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”

The prayer comes close, but it's more of a prayer FOR artists, and not BY artists. The difference may seem slim, but as one who creates art for the Church, I’d like to ask for something more than just a glimpse of the Lord’s beauty, even if that is a noble and righteous thing.

For the time being, I suppose I’ll keep nagging the Lord with my simple and honest supplication that simultaneously begs what I need and hints that my labors might benefit others in the Kingdom. The prayer isn’t very eloquent and its grammar is questionable. It certainly isn’t flowery or poetic, but it’s been on the top of my studio easel for a long time. For many years it has been on the tip of my tongue.


  1. And at the top of your easel in this photo is a bit of lighting magic that mimics the old Christian symbol- the fish! I think your prayer is sufficient.

  2. I'm a hand-quilter, and I think that's appropriate for what I do. And especially because most of my quilts are gifts for others.

  3. Martin Franzmann has a prayer titled "In an Art Gallery."

    This is uncanny, Lord:
    a rutted sandy road
    running through grass
    to a railroad crossing,
    a semaphore
    against a blue sky
    and a white cloud,
    a little water color
    on a piece of rough paper.
    I've seen this all a thousand times,
    but here it is,
    trapped and alive and held:
    the golden blue of every glorious summer day,
    the everlasting simple grass and sand and sky,
    a bit of the first morning,
    when the morning stars sang together
    and the sons of God shouted for joy.
    Adam could walk along this railroad track,
    and Eve, still nude and unashamed.
    Uncanny is hardly the word for it;
    call it Your miracle.
    I thank You, Lord,
    for the miracle
    of this artist's eye of innocence,
    this deep adoration of Your handiwork
    that lets me look upon Your world again
    as once Your Son could look
    on lilies of the field
    growing in Galilee.