Are you an artist? Or someone who is interested in art history? Or maybe you just consider yourself a “visual” person? If so, you may like to explore the idea of praying with art. Henri Nouwen, a catholic priest who was well known for his books on the spiritual life wrote an entire book about his experience with a famous painting, The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Rembrandt. Here is an excerpt describing his original encounter with the painting,
“When I first saw the Prodigal Son I had just finished an exhausting six week lecturing trip …I was dead tired …anxious, lonely, restless and very needy. …It was in this condition that I first encountered (a poster of the painting)…on the door of Simone’s office. My heart leapt when I saw it. After my long self-exposing journey, the tender embrace of the father and son expressed everything I desired at the moment. I was, indeed, the son exhausted from long travels; I wanted to be embraced; I was looking for a home where I could feel safe. The son-come-home was all I was and all that I wanted to be.”
Here is the picture Nowen described:
In the book Nouwen meditates on this picture, thinking of himself as the prodigal son, the older son and the father. Christian art can be a way to put yourself into a Bible story, imagine the environment and the characters and experience it in a whole new way.
If you are interesting in exploring this type of prayer, you might also want to read Behold the Beauty of the Lord: Praying with Icons, by the same author.