NIGHT PRAYER: Friday 3/10

On the Fridays of Lent, Night Prayer will look at different ways of praying. In this post, we'll look at praying with art.  Just as one can read, study,muse and pray over a scripture text, so can one approach a work of art.  DON'T WORRY: You don't have to be a museum goer or an art historian to pray this way!  You need only some time, some art, a prayerful curiosity and a desire to discover what the Lord wants to share with you...
As was the case last week, these Friday night posts are an effort to introduce different ways of praying and so they are longer than usual - but I hope worth your time and effort!

This weekend's gospel is the story of Jesus and the woman at the well.  To refresh your memory, I'll give you the text of the story and also six images of Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman.  With the visuals, I'll suggest some questions to help you pray with the images.  (Do read the gospel text first: it's lengthy - but it's a shortened version of what you'll hear on Sunday!)

From the Gospel according to Saint John

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar,
    near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there.
Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.
It was about noon.

A Samaritan woman came to draw water.

Jesus said to her,
    “Give me a drink.”
The Samaritan woman said to him,
    “How can you, a Jew,

        ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
(For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered and said to her,
    “If you knew the gift of God
        and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘
    you would have asked him
        and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, you do not even have a bucket

    and the cistern is deep;
        where then can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob,
    who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself
        with his children and his flocks?”

Jesus answered and said to her,
    “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;
        but whoever drinks the water I shall give

            will never thirst;
        the water I shall give will become in him
            a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him,
    “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty
        or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Jesus said to her,
      “Go call your husband and come back.”
The woman answered and said to him,
    “I don’t have a husband.”
Jesus answered her,
    “You’re right in saying, ‘I don’t have a husband.’
        For you’ve had five husbands,
            and the one you have now is not your husband.
        What you have said is true.”
The woman said to him,
    “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.
    Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain;
        but you people say that the place to worship

            is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to her,
    “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming
        when you will worship the Father
            neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
    You people worship what you do not understand;
        we worship what we understand,
    because salvation is from the Jews.
    But the hour is coming, and is now here,
        when true worshipers will worship the Father

            in Spirit and truth;
        and indeed the Father seeks such people

            to worship him.
    God is Spirit, and those who worship him
        must worship in Spirit and truth.”

The woman said to him,
    “I know that the Messiah is coming,

        the one called the Christ, the Anointed,

    and when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
Jesus said to her,
    “I am he, the one speaking with you.”


The woman left her water jar
and went into the town and said to the people,
    “Come see a man who told me everything I have done.
        Could he possibly be the Christ?”
They went out of the town and came to him.

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him
    because of the word of the woman who testified,
        “He told me everything I have done.”

When the Samaritans came to him,
    they invited him to stay with them;
        and he stayed there two days.
Many more began to believe in him because of his word,
    and they said to the woman,
         “We no longer believe because of your word;
                for we have heard for ourselves,
        and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”



Woman at the Well by Daniel Bonnell 
What does this image stir in your thoughts,
    your heart and your prayer?
What's being shared in the silence here?
Does the woman already know that Jesus knows
 everything she's ever done?
Imagine what it would be like
    to sit alone with Jesus at the well..

Samaritan Woman at the Well by Michael Torevell
What does this image stir in your thoughts,
    your heart and your prayer?
Imagine meeting Jesus in the midday heat
    and he's thirsty - and you have water to give him...
What are your thirsts - and how might Jesus quench them? 
Are you thirsty for Jesus? for his mercy? his compassion?


The Well by Mike Moyers
What does this image stir in your thoughts,
    your heart and your prayer? 
Prayer is this: being with Jesus, one-on-one,
  face-to-face: an intimate moment with the divine...
Do you find this scene inviting? awesome?
   threatening? overwhelming? fulfilling?

I Have No Husband (artist unknown)
What does this image stir in your thoughts,
    your heart and your prayer? 
The woman tried to hide her past from Jesus:
How often do I pretend that Jesus doesn't know me
        inside-out and upside-down?
Why do I try to hide my sins from the very one
    whose only desire is to forgive and heal me? 
What does this image stir in your thoughts,
    your heart and your prayer?  

Insight by Sieger Koder
What does this image stir in your thoughts,
    your heart and your prayer? 
The woman peers into the well,
    perhaps to avoid looking Jesus in the eye
but in the waters of the well
    she sees the reflection of Jesus' face...
Where is the face of Jesus meeting you?

The woman left her water jar behind 
   and went into the town to tell the people...
What does this image stir in your thoughts,
    your heart and your prayer? 
Having met Jesus, the woman leaves the well
    and her old life behind, and returns to the town
        to spread the news of her encounter.
What do I need to leave behind this Lent?
How does my experience of Jesus lead me
    to share with others the grace I've found?
How will I share the good news with others?

In place of a musical selection tonight - more images!  Here's the Woman at the Well scene from the popular series, The Chosen.  Like the works above, this film gives artistic expression to what's in the scriptures.  A few details have been added in the screenplay but nothing that distracts from or contradicts the biblical account.  After viewing the video, you might ask yourself, "What did the imagery here stir in my thoughts, in my heart, in my prayer...?"

If a video doesn't appear below, click here!


Protect me, Lord, while I'm awake
and watch over me while I sleep
that awake, I might keep watch with you
and asleep, rest in your peace...







Please THINK before you write
and PRAY before you think!