Praying in Color

Praying in Color

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It’s hard to believe that’s a prayer.  Doesn’t it just look abstract and fun?

I was surprised by how much I connected with this prayer form. I originally chose it with my daughter in mind. She loves to color. At age 7, she also does much better when things are hands-on.

The inspiration for this prayer comes from Sybil MacBeth’s book Praying in Color, which I found completely by accident at the library. Here’s the summarized version of praying this way:

  1. Begin drawing shapes. I started out praying for a situation in which many people are involved. You see my shapes are all connected. They don’t have to be. You can have shapes all over the place.
  2. Fill in with names of people or things you’re praying for. You can do this as you go, as I did. Or create a bunch of shapes and then add names later, as my daughter did.
  3. Color.  We used crayon because they were handy.  Markers, paints or artist quality pencils would all work and add to the experience.

Easy, right?

Here’s how it worked for me. First off, I just started with a situation that was heavy on my heart—the death of a family member. I created shapes and filled in names as I went. It was pretty fast work at that point. As I got all those names down, I began to feel a sense of relief. Phew! It was out of my head now!  The physical practice really helped me re-center and give all this to God.

Next, I went back and began coloring. This gave me time to really think about each individual instead of becoming mired down in the overwhelming big picture. As I colored each name, my mind focused on what that particular person needed as they wrestled with grief. Some were now facing financial concerns, some were the care-takers in the family and were handling all the logistics of arranging for the funeral, some were estranged and seeking re-connection. Even though my coloring wasn’t fancy, doing it really gave me time to pray for each of these people. This was the part where I began to feel really calm and prayerful.

As I finished coloring all the names, I realized that what each of them needed was peace. I added that at the bottom, coloring it in a way that I imagined peace would look if it settled down into a bunch of turmoil.


The kid verdict: Isabel loved this. She really got into drawing the shapes. She wrote the names of her prayers down first, then started going back and coloring. She’s a pretty meticulous kid and writing is a new skill so the drawing and writing took a while. She started coloring but then got tired and decided to save it for later. I’d say she spent 15 or 20 minutes on it though. Not shabby for a 7 year old in prayer!


Helpful tip: Isabel needed a reminder of what prayer is. She remembered that we often say prayers of gratitude.  “So, I just fill in all these shapes with things I’m thankful for?” She asked. I explained that yes, being thankful was a good prayer. I also told her she could list things she was worried about. After that, she was off and running. With younger kids or people who like a little more support to get started praying, this labeled Template for Color Prayer might be a good starting place.

Happy praying!


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