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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Color. We used crayon because they were handy. Markers, paints or artist quality pencils would all work and add to the experience.
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.