Like most people of faith, over the years I have practiced various forms of prayer and have settled in on a few that are the most meaningful. One of those I call “prompted prayers.” I refer to them as prompted prayers because they are prayers that are brought to mind by some cue, usually something visual. For centuries, those of the Catholic faith have used painted icons and biblical images to prompt their prayers. A more contemporary expression is to let a visual cue from everyday life, such as a person, place, or thing, to stimulate your prayers.
I find that prompted prayers can occur spontaneously throughout the day, or may be incorporated into a daily structured quiet time. My favorite approach is to surround my home and office with various objects, that when gazed upon, bring to mind a specific prayer. Below is a description of how this works in my own home.
How Prompted Praying Works
In the winter, my wife and I gather by the kitchen fireplace early each morning before engaging in the day’s activities. After the fire is good and warm, I start my gaze with the fire itself and then move my focus back and forth around my field of view. Here is what I see and how it prompts my specific prayers.
The flames of the fire, prompts me to pray for the presence and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
A bowl of fruit, prompts me to pray for the Fruits of the Spirit in my life.
A hand carved wood raven hanging from the ceiling, prompts me to pray that, like all animals, I would be true to my innate gifts and calling and be the very best version of myself.
A metal “Love” sign stuck in a potted plant, prompts me to pray for the Law of Love to be manifest in my life.
Several carved stone animals on our mantel, prompts me to pray for what the animal symbolizes…..the buffalo, for abundance, the bear, for strength and protection, and the owl, for wisdom.
A crown of thorns hanging by a nail on our fireplace, prompts me to remember Christ’s response to Roman cruelty and suffering…..unconditional love, forgiveness, humility, non-defensiveness, and non-violence, and to pray for those attributes in my own life.
A vintage carved wood Native American dancer mounted on a piece of petrified wood, prompts me to reflect on the Native American belief that God is literally in everything and that is to be celebrated, and to pray that I would have the eyes to see and celebrate God in all that He created.
A salt lamp sitting next to the fireplace, prompts me to pray that I would be salt and light, especially “to the least of these.”
A large oxen yoke hanging over the den entry, prompts me to pray that I would lay all of my burdens and worries on Jesus.
A clay Native American Kashare, or clown, prompts me to pray that I wouldn’t take myself too seriously, and that I would bring joy to someone’s life today.
A series of paintings on our den wall that prominently feature churches in small New Mexican communities, prompts me to pray for the churches I have served and the church universal.
Various crosses and crucifixes hanging in our entryway, prompts me to be thankful for Jesus’ life, death, and transforming resurrection, to pray for forgiveness, and to ask that Jesus’ path would be my path, and that he would be my compass and north star.
A sculpture of a man and woman embracing, prompts me to pray for my wife, her needs, and our relationship.
A vintage Spanish wood carved statue of Saint Francis, the patron saint of hearing, prompts me to pray for God’s hand of healing on my recent hearing loss.
An antique Guatemalan prayer alter with nine votive candles, prompts me to pray for nine people that God brings to my mind and heart in the moment.
The idea of prompted praying is simply to allow yourself to gaze on your surroundings and see how God prompts your mind and heart to pray. Like me, you may want to intentionally collect and place pictures, items, and objects around you that bring to mind something or someone that you want to consistently keep before God. I invite you to add this practice to your spiritual disciplines and see if it draws you into a more consistent, more thorough, more meaningful, and deeper form of prayer.
Posted on January 14, 2020