Visual Prayer

Teens and Visual Faith


Visual Faith Coach Laura Bauer explains her heart for sharing visual faith with teens:

As a teenager, I have very vivid memories of waking up in the morning and stumbling into the kitchen to find my father sitting at the table with his Bible open. At the time I did not think anything special of it, but looking back now I view this memory as a precious gift. My parents diligently took us to church every Sunday morning as many families do, but finding my dad sitting regularly immersed in the word of Christ throughout the week reaffirmed the knowledge that Christ and the Bible were not simply a program that parents dumped their children at once a week, but rather the place to find Truth in a world that felt tumultuous. My dad didn’t just give Christ lip service, Christ is his foundation and therefore spending time daily in the word was natural for Him.

Laura with two of her children - spending creative, meaningful time in the Word together.

Laura with two of her children - spending creative, meaningful time in the Word together.

Sitting at the table with my Bible and colored pencils is becoming a more common thing in my home and more often than not, when I am working on a journal entry or a page in my Bible, one of my four children will approach me and ask if they can Bible journal alongside me. My teens many times do not ask to join in, they simply grab some supplies and sit down.


Creative response to Proverbs 27:17 by Micah Bauer, 14.

Creative response to Proverbs 27:17 by Micah Bauer, 14.

Activities that are multi-generational and enjoyable regardless of your gender are very hard to find, but visual faith seems to be just that. We often joke that as adults we need an invitation to color, the same can sometimes be said of teenagers. So many teens have such amazing artistic talent and simply need an invitation to use it.

Visual faith responses by teens

Visual faith responses by teens

The great thing about visual faith is that it busies the hands which frees up the mind for meditation on a verse or even deep conversation with another individual. A teen may not spend time meditating on a verse alone or working on a journal entry by themselves. Many teens will be quick to jump at the opportunity to sit with an admired adult free of phones and social media and chat while illustrating a verse. As an adult and parent it is so easy to convince ourselves that our teenagers really do not want anything to do with us. In some cases this may be true, but for the most part I truly believe that most teenagers long to know that the adults in their life have time for them and a desire to spend that time with them.


An “accordian book” visual faith project

An “accordian book” visual faith project

At Redeemer in Interlochen, we have attempted to add visual faith periodically to our youth group lessons sometimes on their own and sometimes combined with adults. It does not take much encouraging to convince teenagers to grab some art supplies and illustrate a verse whether at home or at church!

During a lesson on learning how to study the Bible, we created accordian books and filled the inside with ideas and directions about where to begin. On one side the youth included questions to ask themselves when looking at a section of scripture: Are there other verses that apply to my understanding of this passage? Who was the author and the audience? What is the theme? Are there any key words or verbs? What people and places are talked about? When does this take place? What, if any, challenges are faced? How does this apply to me?


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On the other side, the kids came up with topics that they would be interested in studying, such as: anger, conflict, money, dating, love, animals, and friendship. The idea behind the accordian books is that it would be something they could use as a guideline when they want to spend time in God’s Word, but have no idea where to begin.

Faces tell the story of an enjoyable visual faith experience!

Faces tell the story of an enjoyable visual faith experience!

As with any visual faith practice, the best way to encourage others to join is by doing it yourself in a visible fashion. When you exude excitement about an activity, that excitement becomes contagious and others naturally want to be part of it!

A few pages from Laura’s personal Bible.

A few pages from Laura’s personal Bible.

Give teens permission and encouragement to color and illustrate verses and you will find that the verses that they take the time to work with will work their way into a permanent spot in the teenagers mind and heart which will later be useful when the world threatens to distract him or her from Christ. The youth in your life whether they are your children, grandchildren or friends are watching you and learning how to be adults.

Painting by Rachael, age 16, who created this as a confirmation banner for a friend.

Painting by Rachael, age 16, who created this as a confirmation banner for a friend.

Most teenagers will never come right out and say it, but they long for deep solid relationships with adults as well as other teens. Visual faith can be a marvelous bridge between our youth, adults and even older members of the congregation.

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Laura is mother to four energetic children, wife of an adventurous LCMS pastor, and a baptized child of God. With background as a DCE (Director of Christian Education) and in Elementary education, she was introduced to Bible journaling in 2016 and has been amazed at the depth and richness it has added to her devotional time and prayer life. Creative - but not necessarily artistic - Laura enjoys working with groups of all sizes to share practical ways that even the “artistically challenged” can benefit from and experience the hope and peace that comes by spending time in God's word. She is also excited to share ways that families and youth can use visual faith to grow closer to each other and more importantly to Christ.

VISUAL FAITH at the Michigan District Youth Gathering

Visual Faith Coach Valerie Matyas shares about her experience leading a sectional on Visual Faith practices at a junior high youth event:

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Over 300 junior high youth from Lutheran churches throughout Michigan gathered in Frankenmuth, MI, May 31-June 2, 2019 for this year’s Michigan District Jr. High Youth Gathering. The theme this year was #TRUTH ~ “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) On Saturday, four breakout sectionals were offered on the campus of St. Lorenz Lutheran School in Frankenmuth. Each sectional ran for 45 minutes and was offered four times throughout the day. One hundred twenty-five youth and their adult leaders experienced Visual Faith in the cafeteria of St. Lorenz.

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Using index cards, sharpie pens, pencils, colored pencils and washi tape, participants took time to meditate on scripture through creative and intentional reflection.

We learned three different hand-lettered fonts to capture the word Truth. Taking time to draw helps the mind connect between its two hemispheres. Drawing helps us to remember, so that we can recall it later for our personal spiritual benefit or to share our meditation with others.

By placing the word ‘truth’ in the center of an index card, we were able to create physical and mental space to give thought to the Truth that Scripture describes, and how it differs from the half-truth society spins. We discussed being ever mindful of knowing the pure Truth of scripture versus the deceptive truth of the world.

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We had time to touch briefly on topics such as sex, marriage, money, and obedience. We discussed what society is trying to portray as truth, and what Scripture reveals as real Truth. Being rooted in the Word, seeking God with your whole heart, knowing that His Word is real Truth, offers us direction (curb), reflection (mirror), and information (guide).

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We also had an opportunity to create a Scripture Doodle (a basic illustration) of the theme verse.

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Everyone added their own personal touch. The purpose of a Scripture Doodle is to allow yourself time to linger longer in the Word. It gives your brain an opportunity to read, reflect, and respond, so that you can remember and reach out.

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Drawing helps us to remember. It allows scripture to sink deeper into the soul. Even the most basic of drawings allows a moment to slow down and think it through.

The sectional was hands-on, tangible, interactive, and reflective. It was a quick 45 minutes, jammed packed with opportunities to practice and experience Visual Faith processes. Participants ranged from 12 years old to 62 years old — it was time well spent.

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To find out what a junior high youth gathering might look like and see Valerie in action - you can check out the video here:

https://youtu.be/bPk1u_cGfUw

Valerie Matyas is the Educational Development Consultant at Visual Faith Ministry. As a Visual Faith Classroom Coach, she joins a love for all things Visual Faith with the heart passion of an educator to forge new pathways into schools and congregational life. She is a graduate student at Concordia University - Ann Arbor, MI, pursuing a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Valerie is passionate about Parochial Education as well as supporting and encouraging professional church workers and laity in their personal devotional and prayer lives. She seeks to encourage God's people, of all ages, to literally draw closer to Him through creative reflection and loves to develop tools to open these faith-sharing doors for her family and others.

Visual Prayer - Preschool Style

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Sara DeYarmond is a preschool teacher Our Savior Lutheran School in Lansing, Michigan. She herself is a graduate of Our Savior and returned to teach at her elementary alma mater. Sara and others from the Our Savior staff attended their church women’s retreat, called “Linger Longer”, where they learned about visual prayer. Excited about including visual faith practices in the classroom, Sara decided to use an Advent coloring calendar to help her little students focus on prayer in the weeks before Christmas.

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Sara printed off Advent coloring calendars from the Visual Faith Ministry website. There are many images to choose from under Seasonal Resources. This simple star image by Bev Wicher is perfect for young students. You can find it here: https://www.visualfaithmin.org/seasonal/advent-calendar-23-spaces-by-bev-wicher

Sara explains: “They pray out loud as they color and then we help them write the name of the person they prayed for in the box.”

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As part of this group process, Sara encourages her students to all pray out loud at the same time. Sara adds: “It’s a little crazy...and adorable. They have the option to find a quiet space away from the group if they choose.” Just imagine the sweet harmony of so many tiny voices talking to Jesus!

If you have experience with teaching preschool, or have had the chance to observe an early elementary classroom, you’ll probably agree that attention spans are limited and distraction is a given! Visual prayer corresponds with the skills of little ones who like to color and helps with focus and attention as they learn to pray. The children can “see” their conversations with God, go home to “tell” about them, and keep this new skill to use and develop as they grow in their faith.

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Visual prayer is for all ages. It’s for careful colorers, for those who color ouside the lines, and for those who might write words but choose not to color at all. It works for boys as well as girls, for women and men. Visual prayer has great impact on personal prayer time and, as in this case, lends itself well to the group prayers of even the tiniest of God’s people.

Thanks for sharing, Sara DeYarmond!

- Pat Maier

PREPARE YE THE WAY TO A MEANINGFUL ADVENT

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Visual Faith Ministry is excited to share some new resources available on our website to bless you, your family, and your ministry during this Advent Season of reflection and preparation.

The Advent season varies in length, starting on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day and always ends on Christmas Eve. The word “Advent” comes from a Latin phrase meaning “coming”. It’s important (as we struggle with hectic schedules, distractions, and expectations) that we remember the many years God’s people were longing for the coming of the promised Savior, give thanks that Jesus did come for our salvation, and anticipate the sure hope of His second coming. How do we do this with the distractions of holiday schedules, expectations, and to-do lists? How can we help ourselves to hear His “still small voice”? (1 Kings 19:12)

This year Advent begins on Sunday, Dec. 2 - it will help to have resources ready and on hand to bless your time with the Lord. Here’s what you will find on our website under Seasonal Resources.

Jesse Tree Devotional Readings, Devotions, and Ornaments to Color

Jesse Tree Devotional Readings, Devotions, and Ornaments to Color

The Jesse Tree resource is a free download which comes in two parts and was created by Visual Faith Coaches Valerie Matyas and Katie Helmreich. Part 1 includes a listing of the complete readings and ornaments to cut out and color, and Part 2 is a Devotional Booklet that includes the readings plus a short devotion that can be read in addition to the reading and coloring of the ornaments.

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Use the Jesse Tree resources by setting aside a few moments each day to dwell in His Word. Meditate on His truth and promises for you as you color or decorate each ornament. Place the ornaments where you and your family will see them often and recall God’s goodness together. This project lends itself to personal study, family or classroom devotions, or as a multi-generational church gathering project. You can download this project here:

https://www.visualfaithmin.org/new-products-2/jesse-tree-readings-devotions-amp-ornaments-part-1-by-matyashelmreich

https://www.visualfaithmin.org/new-products/jesse-tree-devotional-booklet-part-2-by-matyashelmreich

Advent Devotional Calendar by Bev Wicher

Advent Devotional Calendar by Bev Wicher

An Advent Devotional Calendar is a visual faith focus tool that creates space in your busy day to record a prayer thought or image from your daily devotion. The printed page encourages daily faithful consistancy yet requires only a few extra minutes of time. After reading a short devotion or Bible reading, take a moment to ask yourself what word(s) or image might remind you of God’s Word for you this day. Add this to a space on the calendar - color is optional and can be added during later reflection if time is short. The end result with be a “selfie” of your time with God and help you remember the specific blessings of time in His Word.

Advent Calendar by Pat Maier

Advent Calendar by Pat Maier

Another fun option - which works well for families with older children or small groups - is to choose an Advent devotional series and challenge everyone to reflect and add a hashtag for each day. Pat Maier created a group text for her family and sent a picture of the devotion each day. As hashtags were texted throughout the day, they inspired further reflection or anticipation of the devotional truth in order to understand the hashtags! [Personal note: “Not all my children used the calendar, so the hashtag idea can stand alone. Whatever works!”]

New Advent Calendars for 2018

New Advent Calendars for 2018

These Advent Calendars are new to our website this year. You can download them, as well as others, under Seasonal Resources here:

https://www.visualfaithmin.org/seasonal/advent-calendar-23-spaces-by-bev-richter

https://www.visualfaithmin.org/seasonal/advent-calendar-2018-23-spaces-by-pat-maier

The Advent Calendar templates can also be used as a prayer focus tool by adding a different person or circumstance to pray for each day.

The Visual Church Year - Sermon Note Inserts for December

The Visual Church Year - Sermon Note Inserts for December

A final resource to bless your heart preparation this Advent is The Visual Church Year - available under the Worship Resources Tab on our website. It is a collaboration of many volunteer artists - and includes a sermon note insert and children’s bulletin. The images and text reflect the assigned gospel readings of the lectionary of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod each week. (If you belong to another church, many of the images will likely illustrate the Advent readings of your Christian church as well.)

The Visual Church Year -  “My Worship Notes”  Children’s Bulletins for December

The Visual Church Year - “My Worship Notes” Children’s Bulletins for December

“My Worship Notes” are engaging children’s bulletins which encourage children to participate in worship. This is a 4-page booklet style resource which includes the margin image of the corresponding sermon note insert as well as other images to color or fill in. Our hope is that it will encourage conversation within families during time together following a service and even into the week.

You can find The Visual Church Year here - the Graphics Only choice provides graphics for church offices to use as bulletin covers or to print within their own bulletins:

https://www.visualfaithmin.org/new-products?category=Visual%20Church%20Year

God bless you as you prepare to celebrate the birthday of Jesus, our Savior and King!

-- The Visual Faith Ministry Team

Scripture Doodles

Sometime a Visual Faith practice is about the obedience of moving in the same direction over a long period of time…. like a month or a year.

This is a Scripture doodle that Connie Denninger formatted to fit a Traveler’s notebook or journal. The calendar is cut into thirds and then added to the pages of a journal. All sorts of possibilities are open for marking the journey.

This is a Scripture doodle that Connie Denninger formatted to fit a Traveler’s notebook or journal. The calendar is cut into thirds and then added to the pages of a journal. All sorts of possibilities are open for marking the journey.

Patricia Maier has also been experimenting with calander pages and tiny billboard reminders of devotional readings.

Patricia Maier has also been experimenting with calander pages and tiny billboard reminders of devotional readings.

Bev Wicher- a Visual Faith Coach team member, also uses a Traveler’s notebook. Sometimes limiting color pencil choices to 4-5 a month allow for a color scheme to convey an over all journey. Images can be used and it can also be one word or a phrase. It is not about the artistry for this practice. It is about the heart meditation.

Bev Wicher- a Visual Faith Coach team member, also uses a Traveler’s notebook. Sometimes limiting color pencil choices to 4-5 a month allow for a color scheme to convey an over all journey. Images can be used and it can also be one word or a phrase. It is not about the artistry for this practice. It is about the heart meditation.

Visual Faith Coach Eden Keefe used a download from Little House studio and matched her thematic color choices to the image on the calendar page. Simple can be very effective.

Visual Faith Coach Eden Keefe used a download from Little House studio and matched her thematic color choices to the image on the calendar page. Simple can be very effective.

Adding in the Scripture references allows a return to the calendar for meditation and to see just where the readings have led Visual Faith Coach- Jamee Thieme. The calendar method can be used with ANY devotional or Scripture reading practice. The calendar is just a tool to chart the journey.

Adding in the Scripture references allows a return to the calendar for meditation and to see just where the readings have led Visual Faith Coach- Jamee Thieme. The calendar method can be used with ANY devotional or Scripture reading practice. The calendar is just a tool to chart the journey.

Here we see how Karen Hunter used the same resource— Portals of Prayer and it ends up in the margin in her Journaling Bible

Here we see how Karen Hunter used the same resource— Portals of Prayer and it ends up in the margin in her Journaling Bible

It is really about the story of a collaborative learning community using faith practices to walk together. They can have multiple applications, and a variety of process adaptations. But, the beauty of these stories? They make everyone an eager conversationalist about what they SEE the Lord is doing in their life. The makes us a witness to talk about His faithfulness as we grown in our discipleship journey.

It is really about the story of a collaborative learning community using faith practices to walk together. They can have multiple applications, and a variety of process adaptations. But, the beauty of these stories? They make everyone an eager conversationalist about what they SEE the Lord is doing in their life. The makes us a witness to talk about His faithfulness as we grown in our discipleship journey.