The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Scrapping your prayers

Create a book with images of people you hold before God

"Keep me in your prayers,” my friend requested. She’s going through a difficult period, and, of course, I’ll hold her in my prayers. I have just one follow-up request: “Do you have a photo of yourself that you could give me?” The question surprises some folks, but my response usually intrigues them. I keep a scrapbook with pictures of the people I pray for. I call it “scrapping my prayers.”

Michael D. Watson<BR><BR>A page from
A page from Debra Farrington’s scrapbook holds photos of her husband, Marley, and stepson Christian. As she looks at their photos every day, she keeps both in her prayers—and her heart.
Visual images long have been powerful tools for personal and corporate prayer. A cross at the front of the sanctuary or in a prominent spot in our homes reminds us of who and whose we are. The colors with which we drape the sanctuary clue us in to the cycle of the church year. Stripping the altar on Good Friday is often a more powerful experience of loss than any words can induce. Those who come from the Orthodox tradition remind us of the power of icons in focusing prayer and meditation. Many of my friends keep either the traditional or more contemporary icons scattered around their homes to remind them of Christ’s presence.

Visual images also help me do something that words don’t, which is to let go of what I fondly call my “God-do” list. It’s just like the “honey-do” lists we have for our loved ones. If I were in charge of the world, I’d give God a list of things to accomplish each morning and expect to see each completed item crossed off by day’s end.

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February issue


Embracing diversity