I’ve long been wondering how to pray, and along the way I picked up Sybil MacBeth’s Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God. The most obvious premise of this book is that a box of markers, a spiral notebook, and 15 minutes a day can move prayer from a hoped-for-ideal to a lived-meditative-reality. Underneath the pedagogy of markers, colored pencils and crayons, however, is a theology of prayer that acknowledges that intentional time with God is more important than the medium. For some, yes, the colored markers help take the ethereal and make it tangible (I am sometimes more attentive to the presence of God when I have a bucket full of markers to doodle my way toward the divine). But for all of us, we need permission to let prayer be expansive. Prayer doesn’t have to be formal, regimented, staid. It can be creative, informal, receptive to something new. Try her approach, use markers if desired:
- Compost Prayers: Sometimes we need to dump all of our complaints, whining, grumpiness and misery on God. Doodle and write all the negative things on your plate. Hold onto the piece of paper for a day, a week, a month, and then compost it (or throw it away): aka give it all over to God.
- Thanksgivings: Fill a page with the many things for which you are thankful.
- Amends: Think of all the people to whom you need to make apologies or ask for forgiveness. Use the prayer as a way to rehearse your apologies. Let God in on the process to clarify what you will say to the person.
- Spiritual Journey or History: Create a drawing that is a map of your personal journey with God.
- Mentors: catalogue and celebrate the people who have helped you in your spiritual life. Let those people sit alongside you as you connect with God today.
- Names for God: Put some or all of the names you call God in a drawing and let the drawing be a meditation on how God is with you right now.
- Scripture: Write a scripture passage on a piece of paper and use that time to connect with God.
Let us pray:
See our doodled prayers, O God. Amen.
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