Prayer:Images

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A picture is said to be worth a thousand words. When we see an image different areas of our minds are jogged, different thoughts are formed than if we just read words. Pictures can touch us directly and spark things in us that only images can easily access. But most Protestants we have gotten away from using images of any kind in worship. This is a prayer experience that tries to use images to help further a full prayer life. This is not worshipping an image. No image of Jesus or God is even used, but it is using images to help launch our conversations with God. Ancient Christian churches used imagery all the time in their buildings to help people connect with God on a different level.

Find a good newspaper or recent news magazine and cut out some of the pictures from the headlines that strike you. If you encounter an image throughout the week, print it out or cut it out so that you have it by you when you pray. Print out pictures of family, friends, and special places. Make sure to include anyone you want to pray for as well as both good and bad things that are happening around the world. If this will be a really big change for most people, adding some classical biblicalimagery could also be helpful, perhaps a few famous paintings of biblical scenes.

Then when you go to pray, have this stack of images nearby. Start going through the stack, asking “what does this image make you want to say to God?” Is it praise? A question? Doubts? Requests? Accusations? Think about how that image makes you feel and talk to God about it. You might find that ideas and feelings come out that you never thought you had about God because you've never before talked to God about a famine, the holocaust, or an earthquake. Images tap into our emotions in a different way than we are used to accessing when we pray.

Stay with each image as long as it takes for you to stop talking to God about it. If you need to stay on that image the entire time, do so and come back to the others the next time.

This encounter can be easily tailored to groups as well by having piles of images already cut out that the people pick from before individually praying. Also, a group prayer with a computer projecting the images can be moving in the right sitting. As each image comes, individuals from the group lead out in prayer until everyone seems to be done with that topic and people are ready to move on.

Hopefully, if using images becomes a regular part of your prayer life you will begin to pray more as you read the paper initially and as you feel strongly about something you see in your daily life.