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ook at many icons, preferably traditional Byzantine style icons. Choose an icon that attracts you. You may want to have your icon blessed.

Create a prayer space for your icon, a place where your icon can reside in honor. Since icons are acts of timeless prayer, arrange them reverently, with attention to space so that the interior freedom that the icon brings is not crowded. Include a candle and perhaps beautiful fabric and flowers that complement the icon.

Honor your icon at the beginning of your prayer time by lighting a candle. Icons represent a presence, and as we pray or contemplate, we interact with that presence. The honor we give an icon goes to the prototype of the image that is represented. For example, we venerate the person of Christ when we bow before an icon of Christ. Some people kiss an icon, as they would greet a friend. Remember to extinguish your candle at the end of your prayer time.

Spend quiet, unhurried and uninterrupted time with your icon, at least ten or fifteen minutes a day. Allow the icon to gaze at you. Keep a written record of your prayer experience in your journal. What changes over time do you notice? What details emerge and subside in your icon? What insights are revealed? What growth do you notice in yourself? What new understanding has occurred with the person or event portrayed? How has your faith life deepened? Has the quality of quiet changed?

When appropriate, discover the spiritual or biblical source of your icon (such as the Hospitality of Abraham). Spend time learning about the figures in your icon, the location, and any special details. An iconographer can help you with these as well as help you find any prayers associated with the feast or holy persons represented. Celebrate the feast of your icon.

After many months, you may be drawn more deeply into contemplation of the icon. You also may want to move on to another icon with which to pray. You might find some of the books listed in the bibliography section on the links page of this website helpful, particularly those regarding the theology of the icon. A spiritual director could also help you move more deeply into contemplation.


 

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