Personal Prayer Art provides exciting an effective means of one-on-one ministry.
(Adapted from Creative Church Handbook.)
The Concept: Use spontaneous art as a form of personal prayer ministry or outreach.
Background: Many churches have ministry teams that pray for people before or after services. Often there will be a word of encouragement given to the person being prayed for. This differs in that it’s the practice of praying for a visual word, then illustrating it. It can have a profound, lasting effect on the person who receives it. This ministry can be a part of a special service, or become a regular offering at your church. It is also wonderful for outreach, as drawing a picture for someone breaks the ice and opens unique opportunities to speak into people’s lives and bless them. This idea was pioneered by Theresa Dedmon at Bethel Church, Redding, CA.
How it works: Generally, if you are doing it in a church, this practice works best if a table is used, which means it can operate inside the sanctuary or outside the sanctuary in the lobby. If you are using this in an outreach you can improvise and use whatever is at hand, standing if necessary.
(Note: We use the term “artist” here, but this activity requires no artistic ability, only the ability to hear from God, and draw a stick figure. That said, those with artistic abilities will find this very enjoyable, because it becomes a joyful experience of collaborating with God.)
- The artist will prepare themselves by taking time to clear their mind, settle their spirit, and focus on God. Deal with of any unforgiveness or anger. A good practice for clearing the air to hear God’s voice is found in the book Finding Divine Inspiration.
- The artist will sit at a table with art supplies and, usually after a service is over, invite people (using signage) to have a picture drawn for them.
- When a person sits down on the other side of the table, the artist will usually not ask for any personal details except the person’s name. Details may come later.
- The artist will briefly pray for the person, asking if it’s ok to put their hand on them, and will silently ask God for a picture or word for them.
- The artist will wait silently until a word or image begins to form. This may be just a flash of something, even something seemingly nonsensical. Often it may require a moment more of quiet or meditation for the picture to form. The artist should encourage the person to stay engaged with God and relax while they draw.
- Often the artist will continue to internally ask questions of the Holy Spirit as he or she draws (i.e., “Is the grass brilliant green or more brown?” “Are there three birds, or more?” “Is the water rough or calm?” etc.) This may sound scary, but it is really astounding how the Spirit will speak when the artist takes a risk to listen and create, prayerfully drawing the images that come to mind.
- The artist takes a couple of minutes to draw this, not worrying about perfection or creating a masterpiece, then gives it to the person and ask the question, “Does this mean anything to you?” giving them a chance to react to it.
- Then the artist will explain what they think God might be saying or what the picture or word could mean. They might write a line of explanation across the top of it.
- After hearing the person’s reaction and taking a moment to process it with them, they’ll pray with them about the subject the picture brought up.
- The artist should make a point to sign and date the picture, and encourage the person to write down what they thought God might be saying on the back.
The results: This is amazingly effective in conveying God’s love to individuals. More often than not, the picture or word has a relevant meaning for the person, and they feel known and seen by their Creator. They also feel love from the artist, as they’ve taken the time to connect, serve, and pray for them. Tears of joy are common. The artist will often feel an overwhelming sense of joy to be able to collaborate with God so clearly. The picture that is made adds to the impact of the encouraging word and can continue to bless the person for years to come. And God can infuse it with new meanings over time, so that, like many pieces of art, it has a life of its own. Some churches call this “prophetic art,” “personal prophetic art,” “destiny art” or other variations. Feel free to adjust the name to reflect the culture of your church. This process is simply prayerfully asking God for a picture or word for a person, taking a risk and drawing it out, then offering it to them as a prayer, always with the qualification to “test it” for accuracy.
- Training: Your artists should go through any training that is provided for other ministry team members. You’ll also want to train your artists to hear God’s voice, and to get comfortable with identifying pictures and impressions they see in their minds eye that might be from Him, then translating them into a drawing. Like most skills, developing this practice requires relaxing and just going with what happens. Think: learning how to float in water.
- This practice is not limited to pictures, but could include words, poetry, etc.
- As a rule of thumb, these images should not be apocalyptic or threatening, but uplifting, and affirming, just as prayer ministry will usually be.
- If the image or word does not resonate with the person, suggest that they keep the drawing and tuck it away somewhere. It’s not unusual for God to reveal meanings to the recipient some time later. Also, always leave room for the possibility that your artist got it wrong. They take a risk and sometimes it is not completely accurate. This is ok. You’ll usually want to qualify the presentation of the drawing with, “I think this may be what God is saying, but I could be wrong. Test it and see what you think. “
- We find that having artists work in teams of two and praying together right before starting the ministry increases practitioner’s faith and stamina. This can be a powerful and intense ministry so it is also important that practitioners and able to gather from time to time to share testimonies and support each other.
- Tables, Art supplies (colored pencils, pens, markers, crayons, quick-drying paint, etc. Stay away from chalk, watercolor, or things that can smudge or take a while to dry.)
- Uniform sheets of paper. 5”x8” sheets work well and can fit in plastic protectors, if you want to provide those.
(Adapted from Creative Church Handbook by J. Scott McElroy)