Visual Prayer

During lock down we have been producing online worship for our church community, This has been well received by those in the parish and beyond. The online video based method of communicating has opened up the visual element to worship to us in new ways. I had the opportunity to lead two Sundays at the beginning of August. The intercessions were a great opportunity to add some visual media to support and shape our prayer. Watch the prayers below.

I particularly enjoyed producing this film to aid our worship because of the collaborative element. Many of you have enjoyed photography during lock down. Facebook is a place we often share. One member of our congregation took these photos and gave me permission to use them. They were atmospheric and became perfect space holders for our prayers. Images that hold us and keep us in a space of worship, adoration and prayer are great.

Creative Response

Why not explore through your image gallery and select some photos that prompt a prayer response. Or pick up your phone and head out on a prayer walk. Pray for encounters with scenes in the world around us that speak to you concerning our life of faith. God will often reveal Himself through creation, so be open to meeting with our Lord through a view. Capture it on camera then create a video or slideshow. PowerPoint can be used to create a simple slideshow or video file based on your slides. Or use some video editing software. I use a OpenShot which is free and very effective.

Starting Points

Starting Points

I am fascinated by the starting points that begin a creative journey. Today I read some material that my spiritual director had sent me on Julian of Norwich. The starting point for one of her most famous spiritual insights was a hazelnut.

“And in this he showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, ‘What may this be?’ And it was answered generally thus, ‘It is all that is made.’ I marvelled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God.

In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it. The second that God loves it. And the third, that God keeps it.”
Julian of Norwich from ‘Revelations of Divine love’

This bring us great confidence and comfort. God made us, God loves us and God keeps us! Indeed He enfolds the whole of creation in these truths. With confidence we should be able to take time to rest in His presence and re-story our lives entering our next chapters full of hope. At a time when imagining the future is so vital we need to search for a new confidence to enter new territory. In this regard we can look to artists who face a blank canvas and have to make their mark.

George Condo Interview: The Way I Think

I have found it helpful listening to an interview with George Condo. In this video, recorded in his New York-studio, the iconic artist shares his life-long love of drawing and thoughts on his artistic expression, which he describes as “artificial realism.”

Condo describes the drawing process as walking through a forest. He suggests you do not know where you are going but you “just start from some point and travel through the paper until you get to a place where you finally reach your destination”. Later he describes how you just expand your drawing from the starting point.

I love this sense of the creative Spirit leading. I firmly believe that is is God’s creative Spirit that leads us. We just have to place pencil to paper or take one step forward and expand, travelling onward towards our destination. The unfolding form of our lives is a beautiful thing.

Creative Response

Starting Points

Take some time to watch the first few minutes of the interview above. Why not take a big blank piece of paper and a pen/pencil. As you pray make your mark, choose a starting point. This is the place you are right now. God is with you in this place. Begin your journey with your pencil/pen and sense what God might be speaking to you about the journey ahead. Don’t worry about the final form just pray through your feelings as you make your marks. Take your feelings before God.


As part of a recent 24hrs of prayer, here in Manchester Diocese, I created a painting script on the theme of lament. Using ArtRage 6 I recorded my prayerful progress creating an image inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci and the words of Psalm 130. Leonardo’s Delluge paintings along with his notebook on the images capture the depth of lament and turmoil a storm can cause. In this Covid-19 pandemic there has been a real sense of the storm raging. With hope stirring in us that not all storms last forever, we took time to lament together and search for God in the midst of the tempest. Led by Psalm 130 it was an enjoyable creative exercise crying out to God as paint was poured onto the digital canvas. I encourage you to prayerfully watch the video below.

Creative Response?

Rolling Waves of Lament

Try taking some paper and use thick brush strokes and deep blues and move in wave like forms. Use acrylic ideally or poster paint. Let some time pass as you pray using Psalm 130. The Hebrew translations of the text ‘Oh Lord hear my cry’ would have used the name of God- Yahweh. Lord with its capital L” in our modern translations would have been the name Yahweh. Rob Bell in his Nooma Video Breathe at 4:14 describes the Hebrew vowel sounds of Yahweh as being like breathing. I love this concept of God’s very name being like breath. During your prayer painting try breathing deeply and saying the name Yahweh. As the paint drys add more shades of thick wave like rolling forms and lament over all that we have loved and lost in recent times.

Black Lives Matter

My face is red with weeping, and deep darkness is on my eyelids… My spirit is broken, my days are extinct, the grave is ready for me.
Job 16:16 and Job 17:1

The image on this page is part of a series of photographs by James C. Lewis. They have crossed my path as we make our stand and say that Black Lives Matter. This photograph helps us to re-imagine who Job was. “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job” (Job 1:1) This is such a wonderful book opening, introducing us to the homeland of Job. Uz is sometimes identified with the kingdom of Edom, roughly in the area of modern-day southwestern Jordan and Southern Israel. The peoples skin actual tone may not be the tone of the Job you imagine in your minds eye. Now is the time to reflect on the diversity of faces of our bible heroes. Now is the time share our faith stories. Stories of variety and wonder that unite all people no matter what creed or colour.

Elijah Encounters God

Look and Hear

Elijah 1: Wind, Earthquake, Fire – Artrage 6 digital painting by Revd Tom Studman
Elijah 2: Sheer Silence – Artrage 6 digital painting by Revd Tom Studman

After encountering the wind, earthquake and fire Elijah wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. In this second painting I imagined Elijah stretching out His arms. He was standing in wonder, praising God for the beauty of the silence in which he had sensed the Lord’s powerful presence. I pray we may all encounter the sheer silence of God in this season of pandemic. May you sense the purity of the peace God gives us.

Creative response?

Stand on the mountain before the Lord

Maybe you imagine that Elijah was standing out on the mountain observing the wind, earthquake and fire. Explore using the space I have edited into this image, to create your own art response to this story. As you spend time making, may you enjoy the company of God and encounter the pure silence of His presence.

Dance of the Trinity

Dance of the Trinity by Gill C. Sakakini, 2005, ink and collage, (4* x 5′)


Rev’d Gill Sakakini is a good friend and inspiring colleague of mine. I love Gill’s ink and collage titled ‘Dance of the Trinity’. Gill provides some insight into her piece in her book (written in collaboration with Karen Case-Green) called Imaging the Story Rediscovering the Visual and Poetic Contours of Salvation. I wonder how you respond to the image and what description you would write in response to spending time with this artwork?

In this painting. Dance of the Trinity, 2005, three individual but overlapping figures move together against a background of fragments of the sixth-century Athanasian Creed, which explores the doctrine of the Trinity. The forms have a layered transparency making it unclear as to who is in front, in fact, the intention is to show each dancer taking a turn as the principal while the other two recede but are never out of contact. As the figures flow in dynamic movements they interact with and make room for each other, which reflects the mutually indwelling persons of the Trinity.
Karen Case-Green, Imaging the Story: Rediscovering the Visual and Poetic Contours of Salvation (Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2017), 112.


As I prayed with this image, I had to figure out how the three Persons merge and blend. Once again I have been challenged by art, like in my last Trinity post, to question my understanding and faith expression of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is a majestic beauty about their dance. The mystery of Trinity draws me in and causes me to want to find out, to search, discover and encounter each person. I sense Christ is the most obvious figure but could it be the Holy Spirit leading me into the dance?

Creative Response?

Gill spent time reflecting on the Athanasian Creed. Why not spend some time creating a colouring watercolour blend of pencil blend upon which you can prayerfully write the words of the creed. Consider the qualities of the Father Son and Holy Spirit. Would you change the wording to reflect your understanding?

The Father is uncreated,
the Son is uncreated,
the Holy Spirit is uncreated.
The Father is immeasurable,
the Son is immeasurable,
the Holy Spirit is immeasurable.
The Father is eternal,
the Son is eternal,
the Holy Spirit is eternal.

Trinity Sunday

On Trinity Sunday it is valuable to ponder the wonder of the Trinity. Christian.Art posted this illumination by Jean Fouquet. It causes me to question who is who. The three figures enthroned are Father, Son and Spirit. But which is which? Clothed in white, are they all the same? Reading art can be a challenge and I hope to investigate this image more. However, as I look at this image, I hear God speak to me. I am caught up with a cloud of witnesses whose focal point in the Triune God. As my eye is drawn into the focal point of Father, Son and Holy Spirit I am fascinated and want to find out more. I am stirred to ask, do I know these divine Persons? Do they all blur into one another in my mind? Remaining in this space, dwell… and allow yourself to be drawn in. Sense being surrounded by a cloud of witnesses praising and honouring Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Trinity in its Glory, Illumination by Jean Fouquet, Illustration in the Hours of Etienne Chevalier, Executed circa 1445, Painting on vellum, © Musée Condé, Chantilly, France

Creative Response?

Who is who?

An instinctive response to this image would be to explore the three figures. Use the base white clothing as a blank canvas. Try printing out the image and adding colour to ponder and express each person of the Trinity. Andri Rublev consciously choose to dress each figure in his 5th Century icon of the Trinity in specific colours. See video below.

Trinity Explored

I explore the Icon of the Trinity by Rublev in this weeks Trinity Sunday reflection. Section starts at 4:15min.

Theme: Overlay by Kaira Keep looking to hear what God has to say to you
Manchester, England