Praying in Color

Praying in Color = prayer + doodling

Read more in Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God 2019, Paraclete Press (the updated version of the original 2007 book).

Here are some reasons to Pray in Color

  1. You want to pray and words escape you.
  2. You feel antsy and can’t sit still.
  3. Your prayers seem puny and silly.
  4. You want to spend time with God but don’t know how.
  5. Your mind wanders and your body complains.
  6. You want a visual, concrete way to pray.
  7. You need a new way to pray.

Praying in Color is the intersection of prayer and doodling. It is a visual, active, meditative, and playful way to pray. I have been praying in color for almost twenty years. Here’s how it began.

When a dozen friends and family members received scary cancer diagnoses, I prayed for them. But my verbal prayers seemed puny and repetitive. “Please, God, let Sue live to see her children graduate from high school.” “Heal your servant Chuck.” “Release Peter from this terrible pain.” I fumbled for adequate words and struggled to focus.

One day I carried a basket of colored markers and pencils to my back porch. I love to doodle as a playful, creative way to relax. On a piece of paper, I drew an abstract shape with a black pen. The pen took me for a stroll around the shape. Dots, lines, arcs, and color noodled in and around it. Without any conscious thought, I wrote the name Sue in the doodle. Sue, my sister-in-law, had stage four lung cancer. I continued to doodle and add color, keeping my eyes and attention on Sue’s name. When the doodle felt complete, I realized I had prayed for Sue. God, Sue, and I were in the room together; my worry disappeared. The doodle was my visual prayer; each stroke, each swath of color was a way to release Sue into God’s care. No elegant words or artistic skill were necessary. I prayed for other people the same way. The page, covered with designs and names, was a visual prayer list, a reminder to pray for my friends and family members—with or without words– every time I looked at it. This was the beginning of Praying in Color.

Here’s what you need to Pray in Color

  1. Paper
  2. Pen
  3. Colored markers or colored pencils or colored gel pens
  4. A table or clipboard or book to put your paper on.

Here’s a simple way to start:

1) Write your name for God on a piece of paper. Draw a shape around it or just start to doodle. Let your pen take you for a walk. The drawing becomes a prayer space, a small prayer closet.
2) Add marks and shapes. Focus on the name you chose. Ask God to be part of your prayer time. If words come to you, pray them; if not, rest in the silence. Think of each stroke as a nonverbal prayer.
3) To pray for a person, write their name somewhere else on the page. Draw around the name. Add color. Keep drawing as you release the person into God’s care.
4) Add other people to your drawing. Think of each stroke of your pen as a prayer for them. Take a breath or say “Amen” between each person.