2020 has been an extraordinary year.
Knowing how to process, how to reflect, how to pray about everything that has happened is challenging. As St Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans (chapter 8, verse 26), “we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” Sometimes we struggle to know how to pray, and words can seem limiting or inadequate.
Gazing Prayers are one way that can help us to open our hearts and minds to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It’s so simple. Gazing Prayers are just a collection of different images, laid out, so people can gaze at them as they pray. Looking at a picture of a closed down shop, someone could be inspired to pray for those who have lost their jobs or livelihoods in this pandemic. A picture of the Australian forest fires may prompt them to pray about the impact of humanity on creation.
Our Gazing Prayers 2020 pack contains 45 postcards, featuring 15 different photos (3 of each image) primarily focusing on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also the Black Lives Matter protests and the on-going effects of climate change.
Using the cards
Gazing intercessions – You can simply lay out the cards on the floor or a low table, where people can see them. You may want to put an object at the centre of the cards, such as a globe, a cross or a candle. You may wish to add tea lights or flowers, for example, to make the display more beautiful. Instead of spoken intercessions, just play some quiet music as people look at the pictures and bring their thoughts and prayers to God.
Prayer station – Lay the cards out as above, but as a prayer station for anyone using the space for private prayer.
Choose or receive a picture each – In small groups or classrooms, you could invite people to choose one picture that really speaks to them and encourage them to spend some time thinking about who are the people that come to mind when you look at that picture. How can we pray for them?
Naming our feelings – Or it may be that you think about what emotions come to mind looking at a particular picture. Loss, grief, anger, weariness, hope, joy – whatever it is, those feelings can then be shared with others, or offered to God.
Combine with a prayer tree – Names or feelings or other prayers could then be written down and added to a prayer tree.
Or maybe you have other ideas about how these simple images can be used to help us to process all that is happening, to reflect and to pray.