Friday, January 21, 2011

Praying in Color

Several years ago I read Praying in Color, by Sybil Macbeth. Suddenly my prayer journal was colorful and I was praying longer and more detailed prayers. Praying in Color is a simple concept: doodle while you pray. Keep your hands busy with a marker and your eyes busy with a lot of colors, and you just may find it easier to focus.

God created color, and if you love it, this might be a great prayer tool for you. If you are often interrupted while you pray, this may help you re-focus when the interruption is over. If you have no artistic ability, this is for you. If you are a fabulous artist, this is for you too. If you are easily distracted while you pray, this is definitely a tool for you. There are a million ways to adapt this simple idea, but here's what I do.

Step 1

I make the page pretty. I've always found it easier to write in journals that have a few decorative elements on the page, and this gives me that feeling. I use stencils, partly because it speeds up this step, and partly because I cannot draw. Not at all. I also add a phrase from a verse; I usually read a Psalm before I pray. Sometimes I add a bit of a hymn.

Step 2
I add names--from my prayer list and my heart. I add words--fruits of the Spirit and character qualities. I work quickly, praying short prayers while I write. I am often interrupted as I finish this step.

Step 3

Sometimes I do this step several hours after the previous steps. Seeing the picture and the words reminds me where I stopped. I grab a different color and I dive right back in again. I doodle around the words and the names as I talk to God. My hand is busy with the pen and my eyes are busy with the colors and I am able to focus. I think about the phrase Christians often use when talking about prayer: "bringing you to the throne of grace." If I were bringing a friend to meet a King, I would do more than mention the friend's name and rush away; I would stay and talk to the King about my friend's needs and concerns.

Step 5

I don't always do this step, but if I happen to think of it, I open my prayer journal in the evening and pray again. I use yet another color and I might add a few more names if I've heard about a prayer request during the day.

That's how I pray in color, but the tool is very adaptable to different personalities.

My friend Claudia prays in color by coloring a detailed page from a coloring book while she meditates and listens to the Lord. This helps her focus...and refocus when her children interrupt her.

My friend Suzanne draws objects to represent her prayer requests, and hangs the drawings in her kitchen. Without any names or words on the page, she can keep personal requests in a very visible place and remember to pray for them throughout the day.

My friend Connie taught a Bible study and prayed for the women in color. She used one piece of paper each week, beginning with names and simple shapes on the first day and adding more colors and patterns every day. She posted the photos on facebook. I was in that group, and every day I could see that she was praying for me. This was so encouraging!

Sometimes I use Praying in Color to pray someone else's words: an ancient prayer or a Psalm. Here's St. Patrick's prayer (I used it as a memory tool for the Apostle Paul's prayers in my Sacred Signposts book):

My nine-year-old prays in color occasionally. I love teaching my children that prayer does not have to be solemn.
Here are some other ideas for putting this into practice. Some of these are my own ideas and some come from the Praying in Color book:

A colorful page of praises

Names of God

Meditate on a verse or one word

Dump all your complaints and whining on a page of paper. Give them all to God and stop dwelling on them.

Draw or list important events in your spiritual life. Praise God for them, and entrust painful memories to Him.

Make a colorful list of your mentors.

Make a personal mission statement or list of goals you're praying about.

Pray through a writing project--doodling the chapter titles or key words.

Use this method to pray in a crowded environment; you'll be focused but your conversation will be private.

Keep a small journal near your bed. Write a short gratitude list each night. Make it colorful!

Pray in color during Advent. See example here.

Not sure where to start? Write a friend's name on a paper. Draw a circle or a square or a wobbly line around it. Add doodles...dots, lines, shapes, whatever. While your hand is busy, talk to God about your friend. Repeat with another friend's name. It's that easy.

If you've blogged about Praying in Color, I'd love to see a link to your page!

For more examples, check out the author's website.


  1. I'm so glad you added this to your blog!

    I am still trying to find my 'style' of praying in color. It's my personality I start a page and get too wrapped in how it looks rather than my prayers.
    Ya think God might have a lesson here??
    I shared this intimate revelation thinking others might learn something from it as well <3

  2. Gina, you might consider using a color book. That way the page is already set up for you.

  3. I was so excited to see another follower on my blog recently, and even more so when I came over to yours and saw what you'd posted about Praying in Color. What a fantastic idea that is. My daughter and I are implimenting that in our lives. I love it! I'll be posting our first attempts soon. We are really enjoying it, and through it all I pray my daughter's prayer life will be VERY colorful!;-)