Stained Glass Window

Suggestions for
Praying with Icons

1.  Sit as close to the icon as you feel comfortable doing

2.   Close your eyes and offer a prayer that expresses your desire to touch God's presence through the icon, and to relinquish whatever may distance you from that intent.

3.  Open your eyes and look at the eyes of the person portrayed in the icon. If the icon includes several people, choose the most prominent figure. If the icon does not have any eyes prominent, allow your gaze to find its own place of rest and focus.

4.  Spend a moment reaching for God through your will through the eyes. Resist the impulse to grasp for some kind of knowledge. Instead, keep your eyes very still, and let yourself be known by God through the icon's eyes. As best as you can, gently release any sense of judgment, hardness, distance, curiosity, or distrust as these may arise.

5.  Continue to gaze at the icon in this open, willing-for-God way for some period of time. It is suggested that you try at least 10 minutes the first few times, and then lengthen the time to 20 or 30 minutes as you become more comfortable.

6.  When you sense the time for this prayer is over, close your eyes and let an image of the icon remain in your mind. Then let the image fade into a formless presence for God.

7.  When you do not have physical access to an icon for prayer, see if you can recall the image of the icon in your imagination and "sit" before it, so to speak, in your mind's eye.

Adapted from a handout provided in the Shalem Spiritual Guidance Program