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The Ancient Tool That Will Change Your Life: Visio Divina

Praying via art is a multi-sensory way to pray with God. Visio Divina is a type of prayer that makes use of visuals — works of art, stained glass windows, icons, and even natural images.

We all need a spiritual practice that integrates our physical, emotional, and spiritual selves. Visio Divina is a practice with long-lasting benefits that can increase your happiness and health. It’s been used in many different cultures for centuries and has been shown to have the following effects: decreased anxiety increased well-being, decreased mental illness, improved quality of life and mood, and enhanced self-esteem.

Visio Divina is a tool used in ancient times to tap into this spiritual realm to see what divine messages wait for us there. Visio Divina, sacred seeing can help you find peace in your life by reflecting on these messages with their healing powers. It will also help you make decisions based on what you see in your spiritual journey.

How Is Visio Divina Defined?

Visio Divina is a Latin phrase that translates as “divine seeing.” It is similar to the prayer form Lectio Divina (divine reading), except instead of Scripture, visual components assist you to focus your thoughts on prayer. In addition, it enables God to communicate directly into your heart via the image.

The practice of Visio Divina is a powerful spiritual exercise that helps you connect with God. It involves wearing “God-glasses”, putting on a lens or vision that reveals the truth and praying with images. You may choose sacred images, photos, paintings, or pictures from a wide variety of spiritual themes. For example, you may choose to pray using an image of a saint, a religious icon, or even a piece of contemporary art. The goal of the practice is to connect with God through your chosen image and its meaning.

This style of prayer has been practiced for centuries and is particularly popular in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox communities, where icons are frequently utilized in prayer. On the other hand, Visio Divina is gaining popularity among Protestant congregations as well.

The most fruitful prayer life results from a multisensory connection with God.

Each of us is wired uniquely. Some of us thrive on the written word, while others thrive on the spoken word, while others thrive on music, art, and movement. Each of these methods enables us to pray with God. While we may have a particular mode of prayer, the richest prayer life comes from experiencing God with all of your senses.

Personally, I’ve found Visio Divina to be a unique way to pray with God, allowing me to approach God in a way I would not have otherwise. If this is a new way of praying for you, I strongly encourage you to give it a try.

Visio Divina: How to Pray

1) Locate a Prayer Image
Visio Divina accepts images of any type. You may incorporate images from your church – a religious painting, a stained glass window, or an icon – into your design. You can seek for artworks in art books or on museum websites. Historical religious paintings are excellent selections, and you can begin your prayer session with the relevant Scripture verse. Additionally, you can pray with religious pictures from different civilizations or with contemporary or abstract art.  Visio Divina does not even require artwork. Take a walk outside and use a natural image.

2) Cleanse Your Heart in Preparation for Prayer
Prior to beginning, choose your image and make it visible — either by physically being near it or by pulling up the image on your phone or computer.
Perhaps you’d want to begin your prayer session with a scripture reading. If you’re utilizing a religious image, include the scripture that corresponds to it. Alternatively, you may pray a Scripture passage from the day’s lectionary readings or a personal favorite.
Close your eyes, take a deep breath, clear your mind, and invite God to join you in this time of prayer. Invoke God to communicate with you through this image.

3) Allow Your Heart to Speak Through the Image
Reopen your eyes and examine the image you’ve chosen. Allow your eyes to pause and focus on the area of the image to which they are initially drawn.
For a minute or two, focus exclusively on that portion of the image. Then, while still viewing that portion of the image in your mind, close your eyes.

4) Consider the Entire Image
Open your eyes and take in the entire sight. Consider the entire image and allow it to elicit a word, an emotion, or an image in your heart.
What does God speak to your heart? What thoughts or concerns does this image elicit? What feelings are you experiencing?
Continue gazing and reflecting for as long as necessary, then momentarily close your eyes and rest them.

5) Use the Image to Pray
Raise your eyes. Respond to God when viewing the visual. Pray in response to the words, images, feelings, concerns, and thoughts that are currently on your mind.
Continue to pray while gazing at the image. Then, briefly close and relax your eyes.

6) Take refuge and Ponder in God
As you conclude your prayer period, open your eyes and gaze once more upon the image. As you ponder on this prayer experience, rest in God’s presence.
Consider how you’re going to incorporate this into your life. You may choose to write about your experience in a journal.

If you are unfamiliar with this technique, you can practice it yourself, with a group, or with a solitary object—pair scripture with a painting or icon that allows you, the viewer to reflect on the text while gazing at the image.

Inviting the divine into our lives through the images we see can be a life-changing experience. It has roots in the ancient practice of Lectio Divina, which involves slow interaction with sacred texts and images to allow the holy words to rise into the consciousness. By praying and contemplating with a religious image, icon, or painting, we may encounter the divine and undergo a spiritual transformation by the experience. You will have a deeper, more intense relationship with God through each of these encounters.

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