Prayer

Visual Faith in the Congregational Setting

My name is Garet Ellis and I am the pastor of a new church plant, Christ Community Lutheran Church –Leesburg- and Leesburg Open Arms in Virginia.. I was recently asked to write about some of the ways we are incorporating “visual arts” into our worship and school communities.  Now, from the outset, I must say that it is hilarious that I am writing in a forum such as this. I have a great appreciation for the arts in all of their forms. But if I am being honest, I have zero talent when it comes to art. My stick figures are lopsided. My coloring is abysmal. And my ability to draw is as good as my ability to speak Mandarin Chinese; I can’t do either.  Now when we study the Scriptures, look at creation, and learn about God, we see that there is a rich creativity in the One who is the creator of all things. Consider the tulip. It is (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful flowers out there, a sure sign that winter is over and spring is here. Had I been tasked with creating the tulip, there would have only been one color. But God, in His infinite wisdom and beauty, decided to paint the tulips of the field with all of the colors of the rainbow.  But unfortunately, and I am guilty of this too, sometimes we take the creative beauty of God and hide it. Like my single-colored tulip, we sometimes don’t allow the full beauty of God to be expressed. We make God to be one dimensional and rather simple.  So knowing this about myself, knowing that I prefer to be a bullet-point teacher, and knowing that we live in a hyper-visual world, it is important to me to offer a variety of ways for people to see, hear, touch, and experience the love and grace of God. This, I think, is the fundamental role of churches and pastors. And so this idea plays out in a variety of ways in my personal and professional life. I’d like to highlight 3 ways that this has come to life in my new congregation and school.

My name is Garet Ellis and I am the pastor of a new church plant, Christ Community Lutheran Church –Leesburg- and Leesburg Open Arms in Virginia.. I was recently asked to write about some of the ways we are incorporating “visual arts” into our worship and school communities.

Now, from the outset, I must say that it is hilarious that I am writing in a forum such as this. I have a great appreciation for the arts in all of their forms. But if I am being honest, I have zero talent when it comes to art. My stick figures are lopsided. My coloring is abysmal. And my ability to draw is as good as my ability to speak Mandarin Chinese; I can’t do either.

Now when we study the Scriptures, look at creation, and learn about God, we see that there is a rich creativity in the One who is the creator of all things. Consider the tulip. It is (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful flowers out there, a sure sign that winter is over and spring is here. Had I been tasked with creating the tulip, there would have only been one color. But God, in His infinite wisdom and beauty, decided to paint the tulips of the field with all of the colors of the rainbow.

But unfortunately, and I am guilty of this too, sometimes we take the creative beauty of God and hide it. Like my single-colored tulip, we sometimes don’t allow the full beauty of God to be expressed. We make God to be one dimensional and rather simple.

So knowing this about myself, knowing that I prefer to be a bullet-point teacher, and knowing that we live in a hyper-visual world, it is important to me to offer a variety of ways for people to see, hear, touch, and experience the love and grace of God. This, I think, is the fundamental role of churches and pastors. And so this idea plays out in a variety of ways in my personal and professional life. I’d like to highlight 3 ways that this has come to life in my new congregation and school.


The Illuminated Catechism   I have enjoyed this book by Tony Cook and Susan Spellman and used it in a variety of instances throughout my years of ministry. When I got to Leesburg, they would occasionally have a staff Bible study. I was able to teach it for a while, so I bought everyone who wanted to participate a copy of  The Illuminated Catechism . This became a fun tool to be able to teach them about God and for them to grow in their faith and knowledge of Him.

The Illuminated Catechism

I have enjoyed this book by Tony Cook and Susan Spellman and used it in a variety of instances throughout my years of ministry. When I got to Leesburg, they would occasionally have a staff Bible study. I was able to teach it for a while, so I bought everyone who wanted to participate a copy of The Illuminated Catechism. This became a fun tool to be able to teach them about God and for them to grow in their faith and knowledge of Him.


The Enduring Word Bible   We launched our new congregation on September 08, 2019. But before that, we hosted a “Back 2 School Bibles, Brunch, ‘n Bonanza”. We invited to community to come celebrate the start of a new school year and lift our students, teachers, schools up in prayer. And we gave away tons of Bibles.

The Enduring Word Bible

We launched our new congregation on September 08, 2019. But before that, we hosted a “Back 2 School Bibles, Brunch, ‘n Bonanza”. We invited to community to come celebrate the start of a new school year and lift our students, teachers, schools up in prayer. And we gave away tons of Bibles.


We gave away regular Bibles to the adults and  The Growing in Faith Bible Storybook  (I highly recommend this book) to all of our children. We also received a wonderful donation of unique Bibles and books to raffle off to the adults and children.

We gave away regular Bibles to the adults and The Growing in Faith Bible Storybook (I highly recommend this book) to all of our children. We also received a wonderful donation of unique Bibles and books to raffle off to the adults and children.

The number one hit was  The Enduring Word Bible . We are now looking into ways to give this Bible as a Christmas gift to our school administrator and staff who were all hoping to win one.

The number one hit was The Enduring Word Bible. We are now looking into ways to give this Bible as a Christmas gift to our school administrator and staff who were all hoping to win one.


“Create” center   I wanted the new congregation to spend the Sunday before our launch in prayer and praise of God. I wanted to offer a chance for us to bring our anxieties, worries, requests, and praises to God. But I needed it to fit our environment.  You see, our congregation is partners with Leesburg Open Arms, a Christian childcare development center. And so our space is a blend of coffee house and preschool. We have tables, snacks, and beverages for the adults and kids. And on any given Sunday, there might be children’s artwork on the walls. Children are present and participating in worship. And so to engage with prayer in this environment is a little different than it would be if we were in a cathedral.

“Create” center

I wanted the new congregation to spend the Sunday before our launch in prayer and praise of God. I wanted to offer a chance for us to bring our anxieties, worries, requests, and praises to God. But I needed it to fit our environment.

You see, our congregation is partners with Leesburg Open Arms, a Christian childcare development center. And so our space is a blend of coffee house and preschool. We have tables, snacks, and beverages for the adults and kids. And on any given Sunday, there might be children’s artwork on the walls. Children are present and participating in worship. And so to engage with prayer in this environment is a little different than it would be if we were in a cathedral.

I have used resources from the Visual Faith site before and I thought these would be cool to use again. And people engaged. People who weren’t there lamented that they couldn’t participate. So we decided to create a “Create” shelf. It’s a place where you can pick up different prayer cards, art pieces, and drawing tools and you are encouraged to bring them into worship with you. It has been a hit so far.  This has been an interesting journey so far. Engaging with art is not my “normal” in life. I appreciate it. I support it. I want to equip people to experience their faith in God in a variety of ways.

I have used resources from the Visual Faith site before and I thought these would be cool to use again. And people engaged. People who weren’t there lamented that they couldn’t participate. So we decided to create a “Create” shelf. It’s a place where you can pick up different prayer cards, art pieces, and drawing tools and you are encouraged to bring them into worship with you. It has been a hit so far.

This has been an interesting journey so far. Engaging with art is not my “normal” in life. I appreciate it. I support it. I want to equip people to experience their faith in God in a variety of ways.


Thank you for reading this. If you have suggestions or ideas you would like to share with me, I would love it.  I want to better engage our teachers and school staff with different visual faith pieces. I want to support our children in their faith life. So send your ideas to: pastor@christcommunityleesburg.org.

Thank you for reading this. If you have suggestions or ideas you would like to share with me, I would love it. I want to better engage our teachers and school staff with different visual faith pieces. I want to support our children in their faith life. So send your ideas to: pastor@christcommunityleesburg.org.

Praying the Stitches with Nancy Kline

We often hear stories about the gift of prayer and how it changes us, blesses others, and creates places for the Sculptor Spirit to bring about transformation. Here is the story of Nancy Kline and her introduction to Visual Prayer and a bit about her journey.  It is a personal story and we thank her for sharing. The real struggle with prayer has been the tale for many of us, if not all of us. 

Nancy shares-“I’ve not been one to pray much. I’d want to pray more. I’d even confess to the Lord in church that I should pray more, but I wasn’t. Then I was introduced to Visual Prayer at The Bright Bible Retreat in Mancelona, Michigan last October. I went there not knowing a single woman attending. This was truly a God thing--a step of Faith. My daughter, Liz, had bought me a Journaling Bible for Christmas a year earlier and connected me to a Visual Faith Facebook Group. Her husband, Matt Schuler, is an LCMS Pastor in Oxford, Michigan. My daughter had earlier attended a Visual Faith workshop. I kept looking at the pictures of the Journaling entries on Facebook and wondered if I could ever make anything that creative. So, I did one little entry in the Bible. But, then it sat there empty. Nonetheless, I still kept looking at Visual Faith postings. One day I saw the invitation for a Bible Journaling retreat and noticed it was relatively near me. I contacted the woman in charge, Monica Malbouef. She was so nice to me and I learned she was a teacher, too. I told her I knew NOTHING about Bible Journaling and she said, “Then this is the place for you.” So, next came the prompting from the Holy Spirit. That constant little push and inquisitiveness of the whole idea of the retreat. Next thing I know, I knew I needed to go. It was there I attended the Visual Prayer class with Valerie Matyas. That changed everything for me.”

The path is different for all of us and there are many pathways and Doors into Prayer.  Nancy states, “I now do prayer cards. I give prayer cards to people. I do prayers of thanksgiving. This has me even praying spontaneously, without cards. Now I pray as I walk-so I guess I also do prayer walking.”

Nancy’s pastor and wife were leaving on Sabbatical-a time away from ministry that can be used as refreshment, study, or as a learning experience. She shared with the clergy couple that she would like to pray for them in their absence. They came back with Biblical references and specific prayer requests. (Not all are shared here.) What started out as a simple prayer time become a Visual Prayer, incorporating fabric as Nancy “prayed the stitches” and poured out the blessing of prayer.

“There was a lot that happened during this process that I didn’t expect. All good of course. It was a blessing to me.” Here are some of the prayers for the prayer quilt project:

Small pieces of fabric serve as a guide to match the fabric piece and that particular day of prayer in the project.

Small pieces of fabric serve as a guide to match the fabric piece and that particular day of prayer in the project.

The prayers are such a beautiful blending of prayer request and the following Visual intercession.

The prayers are such a beautiful blending of prayer request and the following Visual intercession.

Prayer invites us into a holy conversation. A sacred space for listening. How do we train our Spirit to pray? It takes practice.

Prayer invites us into a holy conversation. A sacred space for listening. How do we train our Spirit to pray? It takes practice.

Nancy was in touch with her pastor’s wife and told her a bit of the story. Nancy shared, “As I was praying, I found myself wanting these things for myself, too. So, I asked the Lord for these same things either for myself or for others- my family and friends. My Pastor’s wife was extremely pleased as she had hoped these prayers would extend beyond prayers for themselves and their family.”

Nancy was in touch with her pastor’s wife and told her a bit of the story. Nancy shared, “As I was praying, I found myself wanting these things for myself, too. So, I asked the Lord for these same things either for myself or for others- my family and friends. My Pastor’s wife was extremely pleased as she had hoped these prayers would extend beyond prayers for themselves and their family.”

So what might look just like a simple sewing project became a hands-on tapping into the infinity of the power of prayer. We don’t have to know how all these prayers are answered, fulfilled or connected. Nancy was called to step out in an act of obedience to pray. Sometimes it is really the simple act of praying for others and letting them “see the prayers.” The grace and work of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit binds up this offering for the good of His Kingdom.  Nancy sits in awe of this transformation in her own prayer life. She states, ”Just think, in 5 months I went from going to a Bible Journaling retreat to organizing a Bible Journaling workshop at our church. I am also doing journaling in my home with others and creating prayer cards and sharing  those  with others. Now I have a strong desire to teach Visual Prayer. Thank you for the ministry of Visual Faith.”  This is a stand-alone story that is being repeated all over the United States and in over 100 countries that this ministry is connected to at this time. It may be the work of a small band of people, but the economy of God’s provision allows the measure of His power and His Word alone to bring about changed lives “drawn closer” in a divine relationship. And- the changes can be so profound- that we just can’t keep from telling others about what HE has done.

So what might look just like a simple sewing project became a hands-on tapping into the infinity of the power of prayer. We don’t have to know how all these prayers are answered, fulfilled or connected. Nancy was called to step out in an act of obedience to pray. Sometimes it is really the simple act of praying for others and letting them “see the prayers.” The grace and work of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit binds up this offering for the good of His Kingdom.

Nancy sits in awe of this transformation in her own prayer life. She states, ”Just think, in 5 months I went from going to a Bible Journaling retreat to organizing a Bible Journaling workshop at our church. I am also doing journaling in my home with others and creating prayer cards and sharing those with others. Now I have a strong desire to teach Visual Prayer. Thank you for the ministry of Visual Faith.”

This is a stand-alone story that is being repeated all over the United States and in over 100 countries that this ministry is connected to at this time. It may be the work of a small band of people, but the economy of God’s provision allows the measure of His power and His Word alone to bring about changed lives “drawn closer” in a divine relationship. And- the changes can be so profound- that we just can’t keep from telling others about what HE has done.

Here is the completed Prayer quilt project. There are many names for prayer projects. Visual Faith coach Belinda Bost coined the term-“Praying the Stitches.” Nancy calls her project- “Praying Through the Stitches.” Either name seems pretty appropriate for this prayer project.

Here is the completed Prayer quilt project. There are many names for prayer projects. Visual Faith coach Belinda Bost coined the term-“Praying the Stitches.” Nancy calls her project- “Praying Through the Stitches.” Either name seems pretty appropriate for this prayer project.

Thanks to Nancy Kline for contacting Visual Faith Ministry and sharing the story of how God has called her and is equipping her for a prayer ministry. Your simple encouragement allows all of us to step out of our comfort zone because the Holy Spirit leads on…   Nancy lives in Elk Rapids, Michigan and is a wife and mom to 2 married daughters. She is blessed with 6 grandchildren. The active and alive faith life of all in her family is something she gives thanks for daily. She has been blessed to grow with a family involved with mission trip experiences. Nancy was a middle school educator and then later a school counselor. She gives thanks for her personal relationship with her Lord and credits this gift to allow her to live with chronic pain for the last 14 years. To God be the Glory.    We also give thanks for Pastor Craig and Kori Trierweiler and their list of Sabbatical Prayers -this was the initiative for this project.

Thanks to Nancy Kline for contacting Visual Faith Ministry and sharing the story of how God has called her and is equipping her for a prayer ministry. Your simple encouragement allows all of us to step out of our comfort zone because the Holy Spirit leads on…

Nancy lives in Elk Rapids, Michigan and is a wife and mom to 2 married daughters. She is blessed with 6 grandchildren. The active and alive faith life of all in her family is something she gives thanks for daily. She has been blessed to grow with a family involved with mission trip experiences. Nancy was a middle school educator and then later a school counselor. She gives thanks for her personal relationship with her Lord and credits this gift to allow her to live with chronic pain for the last 14 years. To God be the Glory.

We also give thanks for Pastor Craig and Kori Trierweiler and their list of Sabbatical Prayers -this was the initiative for this project.

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