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What Does the Bible Teach about Visualization?

Mark Virkler's picture

Question: A ministry I was learning from says that you are teaching visualization which is not scriptural. What is your response to this? Mary

Answer: Thank you for your question, Mary. What we teach is that if man chooses what he wants to picture and visualizes that, then that is wrong. If God grants you a dream or a vision, or Jesus paints a parable, or the Bible tells a story, it is not wrong to picture these things.

We define "Godly Imagination" as picturing things the Bible says are true.

Some Godly Uses of the Eyes of Our Hearts

  1. God gave Abraham a vision of the stars of the sky and told him he would have that many children (Gen. 15:5), and that produced faith in Abraham’s heart (Gen. 15:6). So here we have an example of godly imagery which produced faith in the man who is called "the Father of Faith" (Rom. 4:11). That is a powerful concept. That would indicate that if I wanted faith in my heart which moves mountains, then I would need the same ingredients which God gave to Abraham. These are: 
  • A spoken promise (Gen. 12:1,2)
  • A divine picture (Gen. 15:1,5,6)

Then as I hold this promise and picture in my heart, meditate on it and ponder it, God produces a miracle in the fullness of time. For Abraham, a child was born 25 years later. 

  1. God has created us with eyes in our hearts with which we can see, picture and visualize.
  2. God wants to fill these eyes with His dreams, visions and images (Acts 2:17).
  3. Jesus lived in pictures continuously (Jn. 5:19,20,30).
  4. Jesus filled the eyes of His listeners by constantly teaching with parables (Matt. 13:34).
  5. We are commanded to meditate on the Word, which involves prayerfully rolling it around in our hearts and minds. Since the Bible is full of picture stories, we will by necessity be picturing as we meditate upon Scripture (Josh. 1:8). The Hebrew word "meditate" in Joshua 1:8 includes in its definition, "to imagine."
  6. When we reason together with God, He uses imagery (Isa. 1:18 "sins as scarlet... white as snow").
  7. A picture is worth 1000 words, so when I see something, it has the power to change me much more greatly than when I simply think a thought. That is why God says we are transformed (changed) "while we look" (2 Cor. 3:17,18; 4:16-18). When I see myself clothed with Christ's robe of righteousness (Gal. 3:27), it appears to influence me more greatly than when I simply recall the Scripture verse that "I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:9).
  8. God counsels us at night through our dreams (Ps. 16:7).
  9. Even the Lord's supper utilizes imagery. As Jesus broke the bread, He said, "This is My body" and as they drank the wine, He said, "This is My blood" (Matt. 26:26-28). I see this imagery as I partake of the Lord's supper, and by doing so, it impacts me greatly every time I do it.
  10. The Bible is absolutely full of dreams, visions, pictures, images, and parables from cover to cover, so obviously God is big on imagery.
  11. When David prayed, he used imagery (Ps. 23).
  12. When David worshipped, he used imagery (Ps. 36:5,6).
  13. When David walked, he pictured the Lord at his right hand (Acts 2:25; Ps. 16:8). When we "abide in Christ (Jn. 15:4), we can use the same technique.
  14. In the Tabernacle in the wilderness, God establised much imagery that was an integral part of approaching Him (Ex. 25:8-22).
  15. In the New Testament, we are told that Jesus is the Image of the invisible God, and we are to "fix our eyes upon Him" (Heb. 12:1,2). David was clearly visualizing the Lord at his right hand (Ps. 16:8; Acts 2:25). So in both Old and New Testaments, God has ordained imagery as part of our approach to Him.

Summary Concerning Godly Use of the Eyes of Your Heart

I personally use imagery in all the above ways, and find it extremely beneficial in my Christian walk. God has told me that whatever I fix my eyes on, grows within me, and whatever grows within me, I become. So instead of fixing my eyes on my sin, or my self effort to become righteous, I fix my eyes on Jesus, and I discover that I become Christ-like, and find myself radiating His goodness and His glory! 

Additional Resources Which Relate to Using the Eyes of Your Heart as You Approach God

  1. Perfect Peace When Your Imagination Is...
  2. What Does the Bible Teach about Visualization?
  3. Hearing God’s Voice and Brain Science – Virkler & Lehman
  4. You Can See Visions! They Are a Pathway to God
  5. Poised Before Almighty God
  6. Lord, When Is “Priming The Pump” Acceptable and Unacceptable?
  7. Initiative - Should I Take It? by Charity Kayembe
  8. Help! I Have Trouble Seeing Vision!
  9. Training Your Child to Encounter Jesus - Godly Imagination & Visions
  10. Biblical Meditation Involves Imagination!
  11. Two-way Journaling Combined with St. Ignatius Spiritual Exercises
  12. Training Package - 4 Keys To Hearing God's Voice (One key is to use vision)
  13. Training Package - Hear God Through Your Dreams (Dreams utilize imagery)
  14. Book - Am I Being Deceived? (Difference between New Agers and Christians)
  15. Book  - Secret Place (Examples of God painting beautiful scenes during prayer times)
  16. Divine Healing Toolbox CD/DVD Set (using vision while praying for healing)
  17. Protestantism's 500-Year-Old  Bitter Root Judgment and Inner Vow (a chance to repent)
  18. Training Package - Prayers That Heal the Heart (Inner healing prayer utilizes vision)
  19. Western Study Verses Biblical Meditation
  20. Dreams and Visions Throughout Church History
  21. Dreams and Visions Throughout Scripture
  22. Also related to this topic: How to Receive Revelation Knowledge




Related Resources: 

How to Hear God's Voice!   

Related Blogs: 

Restoring Vision   
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Anonymous's picture

Some people just don't understand. We visualize every moment of our lives. You visualize what you're going to do tomorrow, you visualize what you're going to eat. To say that Godly vision is a sin is absurd.

Anonymous's picture

I tend to agree. Saying that visualization is sinful is very close minded. So God gives us free will but the free will is only to be used within "these" walls?

Here are the Ten Commandments:

1. You must not have any other god but me.

2. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those[b] who love me and obey my commands.

3. You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.

4. Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

5. Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

6. You must not murder.

7. You must not commit adultery.

8. You must not steal.

9. You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.

10. You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.

The only one of these that comes close to saying "Do not use creative visualization" would be the Second Commandment. Even that one does not specifically say it. To me, its all up to interpretation. Am I going to go to Hell because I chose to visualize a life that is better than the one I am currently experiencing? God knows all and he knows that I will use creative visualization to, hopefully, better my life and in bettering my life I will be able to use my life in a Christian way. Realizing this and the fact that I plan on continuing my walk with Christ, then how can anyone say that using creative visualization is a Sin or goes against the Bible's teachings or against Christianity?

Anonymous's picture

I was brought up in a Brethren church that was so rigid and closed to anything non-traditional. Thank God I was awakened to see that Christianity is far more freeing and tolerant than what we want to make it to be. There is so much freedom in Christ that we will be amazed when we get to heaven and find out all the joys that we missed.

Anonymous's picture

I agree that creative visualization is harmless and that it should be used to enhance our lives. God has given us the gift of imagination and if we can use it for good, why not?

Anonymous's picture

a Leader having your kids in a circle and then he guides them through fields and forests with his stories, all eyes shut and hands out like yoga poses, - well this is just wrong. It is up to us to focus on Scripture and help the kids with this, and the Holy Spirit Himself will guide them with His light whatever He wants. New Agers are using this to practically hypnotize kids with their ‘visualizing’. It is just wrong.

Mark Virkler's picture

I believe that the primary place our eyes are to be fixed is on Jesus (Heb. 12:1,2). Whenever I lead people in visionary prayer, Jesus is always in the scene, and we always pray for the Holy Spirit to enlighten the eyes of our hearts (Eph. 1:17), and tune to flow, so we step into a vision where we are are interacting with Jesus.

Mark Virkler's picture

I define Godly Imagination as "Picturing things God says are true." So what I want to visualize are those things God says are true. This way, I bring God's blessings and God's realities into my life.

Anonymous's picture

I use visualization in my therapy for bipolar disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia as well as other chronic health conditions. I also use other therapies. I don't believe any of these three things are wrong as long as they are focused on God, His Word, and the Holy Spirit working in me and around me to do Gods will. In all three i choose where to direct my thoughts. I can choose how to sit so I'am comfortable enough to relax and get the most out of the therapy. Picturing a forest or a valley or whatever is for me a way of focusing on Gods creation. Pretending i am a seed or an acorn growing up and out helps me to connect my life with Gods will for me, my purpose and His plan for my life. Choosing to be aware of the way my body feels allows me to make small changes to improve my pain, breathing, relaxation, muscle tension, etc.
As long as i choose to focus on God, i believe these therapies are helping me on my journey, why not use them if they help. They help me to be aware in the moment if something is not right, in my body or mind, in my thoughts and emotions, in my conversations, etc. I can then turn to God and ask for his help.

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