“Can you smell that?” I asked my friend, interrupting our time of prayer as we waited in silence in the small sparse prayer room of the nunnery. 

My question seemed out of place, a somewhat odd one to ask. Like I had momentarily regressed into being a school boy in a classroom, blaming my friend for making an unpleasant odour.


We had just been praying for people by name to have an encounter with Jesus. We had been asking that they too may come to believe that they are known and loved by God.

My friend looked back at me quizzically. The expression written on his face was ‘what are you going on about?’ I explained that the most powerful flower-like fragrant smell had just filled the room. I quickly scanned the room for diffusers or those plug in smelly things sometimes people use. None had been placed by a nun.

The smell was lovely. It, rather unexpectedly, filled me with a strong hope for the people I had just been praying for. 'It's the smell of salvation' were the words that came to mind as I took a big sniff in.

My experience in that small room on a cold January morning inspired the painting ‘The God Who Saves.’ It’s the image used for day 8 in the Thy Kingdom Come prayer journal and prayer stations.

It was originally painted in front 300 Baptist ministers at a conference earlier this year. The first layer were words written with lilac and purple chalk pastels. The words declared:

‘For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.’ (2 Corinthians 2)

My prayer for this painting and the others illustrating the themes and encouragements for Thy Kingdom Come would be that the same hope I encountered in that cold prayer room would fill you too. That you may know that the God whom we pray to, is the God who saves. The miracle that someone like me and you can have a relationship with the true Holy living God is a miracle that many more people can experience. It’s not just you and me.

While the lavender fields were painted at a busy and noisy event, there are 3 paintings that were specifically commissioned by Thy Kingdom Come that were painted in the contrasting solitude and silence of my studio. From an audience of 300 to an audience of 1: Ascension (day 1) The God who walks with us (day 6) and Pentecost (Day 11)


Like many artists, my art studio is my ‘happy place.’ But perhaps a better way to describe it is more like a place of joy filled encounter and payer. I must be honest and write that it’s not always a quiet place as I do often worship in song and occasionally dance as I paint too! (Thankfully there are no pictures of that.)

Painting in the studio isn’t just about developing techniques or skills but rather about the heart felt meeting with God as I pray and paint. My paintbrushes often become instruments for intercession or rejoicing. That’s why I was overjoyed when I was asked to provide paintings to accompany the resources for prayer for Thy Kingdom Come. My paintings have naturally flowed from such a place of prayer, so to be used to help others pray felt like a natural fit.

I’m often asked when I started painting. I like to quote Picasso in response, who is thought to have said, ‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.’ For me, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t create and paint and leaning into childlike creativity helps me


 grow as a Christian.

Over the past few years I have grown to appreciate that I am a visual learner. This understanding that I primarily learn through what I see is reflected in my lecturing with The Light College and when I preach and teach at various events.

While I so love reading the primary way in which I learn and seek to help others learn is through observing and then doing.

Using paintings in prayer can lift our experience from a dry ‘words only’ response to one that engages our senses and God-given imaginations.

If you have yet to try using the resources of Thy Kingdom Come, perhaps have a go and see what


 happens. There is a simple guide to help you engage with ‘Visio Divina’ (which means divine seeing) and while the paintings are not the means or objects of prayer, they help us connect with God in a multi-sensory way. Who knows, maybe you too may have a whiff of that beautiful smell I encountered in that prayer room!

My prayer for you as you use these paintings in prayer is that you may meet Jesus afresh, and in so doing, be inspired to pray for 5 people you know to encounter him for themselves.

For Visio Divina resources, greeting cards and limited edition fine art prints of the 11 images used visit www.chrisduffettART.com

Chris Duffett is an artist and Baptist minister, serving as co-principal of The Light College (www.lightcollege.ac.uk) training evangelists placed in the UK.