Why I Pray with Photos

A worn Bible bulging with photographs helps prompt prayers for those with urgent needs.

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Posted in , Apr 29, 2019

Praying with photos

Today’s guest blogger is Jan Willis who blogs at www.jankwillis.com.

“Please pray for my heart.” My friend Julia’s text message to me overflowed with fear, guilt and failure. I had a photo of her, so I placed it in my Bible next to the verse she gave me, I Corinthians 13:7-8 (NASB), which reads "[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away."

A small portrait of Bob’s family slid out of Hebrews 4 and onto the floor. Before I returned it to its place, I gazed at his family and lifted a prayer for grace and good health for two of his  grandchildren who cope with cystic fibrosis. I slid the picture next to verse 16 (“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”), along with snapshots of baby Eli, diagnosed with a brain tumor, and BJ, who receives treatments for ovarian cancer.

It was 1975 when I started writing prayers for those with specific requests onto index cards which I placed in the pages of my Bible. I also inserted a picture of my husband and me into Ephesians 5. When our first child was born in 1976, I placed a Polaroid of her next to 1 Timothy 4:12. Thus evolved the habit of placing into my Bible photographs of people for whom I prayed. In 1980, I discovered sticky notes. I replaced index cards with sticky notes on which I wrote names, dates and needs next to related scriptures. When my Bible began to resemble a picture album, I trimmed the collection of photos to those with special requests or needs.

Today, along with sticky notes, photographs mark passages throughout my Bible, reminding me to honor prayer requests.  On the page of the Scripture for each entry, and on the back of the picture, I write the date, a brief description of the request and the name of the one I carry before the throne of God. As God answers, I record the date and how God demonstrated His mighty work. 

My phone chimes at ten, two, six and ten with reminders to lift up prayers for these whose faces gaze back at me from my Bible. Whether driving in traffic or chopping vegetables for salad, their images appear in my mind, and I lift them before the Lord. If a photograph falls out as I open to my reading, I believe God nudges me to say an additional prayer for them. 

My Bible now wears a rubber band, much like a belt, to keep the photos from falling out. The spine sports layers of tape, and its pages appear more than fanned out. But within those pages of truth and hope rest multitudes of reminders for continued, earnest, heartfelt prayers. The photographs scattered throughout my Bible stir within me a deeper desire to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, KJV). You might say, “A picture is worth a thousand prayers.”

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