Prayer for Lois

I started praying in color over a dozen years ago because I was at a loss for words in prayer. A dozen friends and family members were ill with cancer. My words vanished. I just didn’t know what to say or what to pray for. Doodling and coloring gave me a way to create a visual, non-verbal prayer for them. It gave me a way to be with God and stay focused and present.

Once again I am without words. My mother-in-law Lois, who is 87, fell a few weeks ago and shattered her femur. After the surgery to repair the break and alleviate her pain, she seems to have “checked out” even more from life. She doesn’t know her sons’ names and she doesn’t want to eat or drink. A devout Christian, Lois can no longer say the Lord’s Prayer or the 23rd Psalm–words that were part of her everyday vocabulary. I feel such sorrow for her and for her children who were used to their mother as a sharp mind with an endless supply of stories.

I am confused about what to pray for. Is it okay to pray for her death, for a swift end to her life? Or should I pray for a long life and full recovery? She lost her zeal for living a year or so ago. Now she has no memory of her lost zeal. Instead of asking for the specific outcomes, a prayer of blessing seems the best idea. I want Lois to feel God’s love, protection, and comfort. In my blessing prayer for Lois, I remind myself that God is with her, that no matter what the details of the rest of her life, she cannot “go from God’s spirit or flee from God’s presence?” (Psalm 139:7)

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Intercessory Prayer on a Coloring Page

Most of my visual prayers start with doodling and then include coloring. The doodling focuses my attention and invites my eyes and hand into my prayer. Doodling and coloring give me time to slow down.They help to calm the chatter in my mind and help me to get quiet enough to listen. The lines, dots, swirls, and arcs are like little nonverbal prayers.

Although I love to doodle when I pray I have come to appreciate the value of a pre-drawn template. The format is already laid out. The first words on the coloring page are the name I am using for God. In this prayer, it is Almighty God. Then I add people’s names or write words of intercession, gratitude, or concern. Then I begin to color. Each stroke of color can become a wordless prayer. A coloring page/template can be used for almost any kind of prayer. Coloring prayers can also be progressive. There’s no need to fill in the whole coloring page in one sitting. I can add new names on another day or add words for the people already on the page–my requests, emotions, fears, hopes….

I keep the emerging prayer in plain sight so whenever I notice it, it prods me to pray again.

Intercessory Prayer Jun 13, 2016 (1)

This is #1 template in the book Pray and Color: A Coloring Book and Guide to Prayer. I have to admit it was really fun to draw the pages.

Pray and Color Front Cover

Pray and Color Now Available

My new book Pray and Color: A Coloring Book and Guide to Prayer is now available from amazon, Paraclete, and the usual suspects. It has 32 coloring pages and offers 14 ways to pray using the pages. Here are a list of the ways to pray:

Prayers for Others     Prayers for Myself   Disgruntled Prayers  

Gratitude or Gruntled Prayers   Praise or Adoration Prayers   

Confession or Regret Prayers   Spending Time with God Prayers  

Blessing Prayers   Praying for Your Enemies  Praying a Passage of Scripture

Praying Your To-Do List  Daily Inventory Prayer–Examen   Hodgepodge Prayers

Praying in Calendars

Pray and Color Front Cover

 

 

Pray and Color Coloring Page Examples and A Giveaway

For those new to my website, my original book Praying in Coloring: Drawing a New Path to God teaches readers to draw, doodle, and color their prayers. It IS NOT a coloring book. Praying in Color invites people to create their own coloring/prayer pages.

Pray and Color: A Coloring Book and Guide to Prayer is due at the warehouse in about three weeks. It IS a coloring book with instructions about how to use the the coloring pages and templates as a way to pray.

Here are some of the coloring pages in the new Pray and Color. They are a mixture of designs with large open spaces and others with small intricate spaces. All of the pages below could be used for intercessory or gratitude prayers.

Pray and Color Collage Resized

Paraclete Press, the publisher, is offering a drawing for a free copy of the book for the next few days. Here is the giveaway page. If you receive this blog post via email or RSS feed you can go to my blog site to Share this with your friends on Facebook or via other social media. Thanks.

 

 

A Gold Plastic Crucifix

I grew up in the 1950’s in an almost-middle-class neighborhood of two-story asphalt-shingled cottages and bungalows. Many families on the street had at least five kids. My strongly Protestant family only had two kids—just my older brother and me. My parents slept in twin beds; all of the Catholic parents slept in double beds.

No one on the street had money to spare, or if they did, they spent it on things not visible in the driveway or on the front porch. Many of the families, however, did fork out the $8 plus “carfare” for a once-a-week maid. Our maid was named Fanny. She came on the streetcar from downtown Baltimore to the suburbs every Friday. She always wore a waist-down apron, smelled like the cheesy chips she kept in her pockets, and hummed all day long while she worked.

When I was thirteen or fourteen, my birthday fell on Fanny’s workday. I don’t know how she knew it was my birthday, but I do remember I was standing next to the family-room credenza when she reached into her apron pocket and handed me her gold plastic crucifix. “Happy Birthday,” she said. I remember I was surprised–both by her kindness and by the gift itself. The crucifix seemed important to Fanny, but the only thing I knew about crucifixes was that they were something Catholics had and Protestants avoided. My Catholic best friend and next-door neighbor had them in her house. Her parents had a bloody one over their double bed and Marian had one hanging from the bottom of her glow-in-the-dark rosary.

My parents thought crucifixes were wrong, maybe even idols. But when Fanny gave me my first crucifix, it did not feel wrong. Later in the day I showed my mother Fanny’s birthday gift to me. She confiscated it, saying something like, “You don’t need this.” Her intent was not cruelty, but a fear of most things Catholic.

Gold Crucifix

My relationship today with crucifixes is different than it was decades ago. I used to think holy religious practice was all about the correct thoughts, words, and beliefs in my head. But when words and theology failed me in my own prayers over a dozen years ago, I’m pretty certain God sat me in a chair, gave me colored markers and paper, and said, “Pray with your hands, your eyes, your heart, and your little child self. Get out of your head.”

Crucifixes, rosaries, prayer beads, candles–all of those religious objects I labeled as superstitious and idolatrous as a child and young adult—are centuries old practices to engage our whole bodies, senses, and minds in prayer. They involve touch and sight. When rosaries first came on the scene about eight or nine hundred years ago most people were illiterate. The faith was shared through oral stories and visual images. As someone who spends 90% of her time tossing words and ideas around in her brain, crosses, crucifixes, prayer beads, and colored markers enhance my appreciation of God’s Word and Story by providing a visual and tactile focus. When I look at them, I do not worship them. Scattered around my house they are flashing beacons in the midst of my chaotic and fretful thoughts to refocus my attention on God.

Crucifix collage

In retrospect, I wish I had protested when my mother took the crucifix many years ago. Fanny had given me something dear to her and it was dismissed. When my mother died and my father moved away from the house, I remembered the crucifix and searched in every drawer and behind every door of the credenza. But I never found it.

As a reflection of my changing theology and practice and maybe a little bit in honor of Fanny, I have several crucifixes in my house. One of them is at the end of a glow-in-the-dark rosary hanging on the lampshade next to my bed. It is the last thing I see before I go to bed. The glowing crucifix and Psalm 139:12 remind me that both the night and the day belong to God: “even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (NRSV)

And I am still keeping an eye out for a gold plastic crucifix to keep in my pocket.

Pray and Color: A Coloring Book and Guide to Prayer

“I am not an artist.” This has been my mantra for decades. But I do love to doodle and to add color to my doodles. A dozen years ago I combined my doodling with a desperate need to pray for my friends and started to “pray in color” by accident. My accidental way to pray became my regular, intentional way to pray and I wrote the book Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God (2007).

I figured if even I could doodle, anyone could. After leading more than 150 workshops and retreats, I have met people who are uncomfortable even doodling. But many of them like to color. So I drew some coloring pages with ideas about how to pray using the pages and posted them on this blog. They are in the Handouts section. In the past six months I drew 32 coloring pages/templates with about 30 pages of prayer instructions and the result is a “praying in color” coloring book called Pray and Color: A Coloring Book and Guide to Prayer. It will be available mid-May for purchase but can be pre-ordered on the amazon or Paraclete Press websites.

Here is the cover. I’ll post some examples of the templates in the next few weeks. Please Share this post with others. Thanks.

Note: I noticed there is another coloring book also called Pray and Color, so check the author before ordering. :)

Pray and Color Front Cover

 

Heart and Stripes Coloring Page

Below is a blank coloring page to use as a template for prayer and an example of a colored, finished version. I used the page for a birthday prayer for a friend. I wrote the words of a prayer from the Compline Service in the Book of Common Prayer on page 134.  Although intended as a nighttime prayer, it is one I say off and on all day long. I thought it was a good blessing for a birthday. “Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.”

To use this page as a template for prayer you can choose to pray for other people, pray your gratitude list, list your character defects, write words of adoration for God, make a forgiveness list, pray your own set of petitions…. Fill the spaces with color or write words or names in them. Let every stroke of color be an intentional stroke of nonverbal prayer. As a chronic doodler, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to add more lines, dots, and marks.

Click on the .jpg or .pdf version of the prayer to download the page. Make sure to download it first with the downward facing arrow and then print it. Feel free to make copies and share it.

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Hearts and Stripes Collage (1)

 

Back to the Basics of Praying in Color

Praying in Color started for me as a way to pray for others. Then it morphed into a way to give thanks, confess, complain, be with scripture, spend time with God…. These variations have all been helpful to me. But the most instinctual reason I pray is a gut cry for help with my own life and the lives of others. “Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee.”–Psalm 102:1 KJV

So here is one of those gut prayers to God for help, when my “cry” cannot even find the right words to say. First I drew a northwest to southeast curvy line and added two doodles with the name of God in them. Starting with God reminds me where to put my focus. Then I drew a doodle for each person. This is not intended as an art project. It is a collection of shapes, lines, dots, marks, and color to give my hand and eye something to do while I spend time with a person and offer them into God’s care. If words come to me, I pray them. In this prayer, I wrote them on the curvy line.

The visual prayer stays with me. Every time I look at the finished result, it reminds me to pray again.

Basic Prayer

 

Lenten Calendars 2016

Several people sent me their finished calendars for this past Lent. Pat Maier designed a template by drawing a cross, chopping it up, and using the pieces to create a pathway to Easter and resurrection. Here is Pat’s finished calendar; Connie Denninger (Vintage Grace) used the same template. Both chose a word each day to pray and mediate on.

Lent Calendars Connie and Pat 2016--1000

LInda S. and her adult daughter J each used a separate stained glass template and then also shared one alternating who drew each day. They used sharpie pens and colored pencils.

Here are their three calendars: Linda’s, J’s., and their cooperative effort. I love the idea that they sometimes started with words but the calendars are mostly wordless.
1) Linda choose five designs and repeated them. “Three of them represent the refreshing “water” of the spirit, the “cross” roads of decisions we encounter daily, and opportunities for growth. (Though I have no idea exactly what the other two represented).”
2) In J’s template she ” focused on the quotation from Michael K. Marsh’s Lenten 01/28/16 blog I Don’t Want To Do Lent This Year https://interruptingthesilence.com/2016/01/28/i-dont-want-to-do-lent-this-year/.
3) In the shared template they alternated days and drew what “spoke” to them that day color and design-wise.

Linda S and J Collage

Bev W also used the stained glass template.She read several devotions each day and then came up with a word for daily mediation.

Bev Wicher Calendar (1)

This is another pair of calendars from Linda S and J using the spiral template. Inside each circle J wrote a short prayer–the words spilling on top of each other–from many sources including prayer books, songs, and websites. The margins in between also have prayers written. See if you can figure out what’s on the second calendar.

Piral Lent 2016 Linda and J

Thanks to Pat, Connie, Linda, J, and Bev for letting me share these wonderful calendars and the Lenten discipline they represent.