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Pray with Pictures

Just as in medieval times, it's an effective way to pray today.

Prayer picture by Robin Hostetler

News accounts recently announced a project to discover and record instances of medieval graffiti in England. More than 28,000 drawings and carvings have already been catalogued in Norwich Cathedral alone.

Some of the images, it is thought, were created as prayers–thanks for a safe voyage, prayers for upcoming voyages, etc.

It’s not hard to imagine a medieval churchgoer, concerned for a family member at sea, scratching a representation of the loved one’s ship on a column or floor stone as a way of praying for that person. In fact, praying with pictures can be a helpful way to pray even today, in the third millennium.

Here are just a few ways:

1.  Doodle your prayer in a journal.
Draw the person or thing you’re praying for. Or ask, What will an answer to my prayer look like?, and draw that.

2.  Color a picture or symbol as you pray.
Coloring isn’t just for children. On a recent prayer retreat, my wife enjoyed an extended session of coloring exquisite designs the retreat leader provided while praying and listening to worship music (see illustration at right).

3.  Focus on a snapshot of the people or things you are praying for.
Some people keep family photos or school snapshots in their Bibles, prayer journals or in a special place of prayer to help them visualize the objects of their prayer.

4.  Pray on Pinterest.
Type in a simple search term like “prayer,” “intercession” or “praise,” and use the “pins” that appear to inspire your praying. You may even want to create your own Pinterest prayer board.

5.  Pray with a drawing or painting app on your smartphone or tablet.
Try Sketchbook Express or Paper by Fifty-Three. Both have a free version, though Paper is available only for Apple products.

Some people find that creative exercises like these help them corral active minds and focus their thoughts. Some also save the fruits of their efforts to enhance subsequent prayer sessions.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, pictures may do more for your prayer life than you ever thought possible.

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