When I was younger, I loved coloring. I could sit for hours with a box of crayons — preferably new ones with sharp points — and color day and night. Coloring is no longer just a childhood pastime; it’s a hobby for adults, too. I’ve always kept coloring in my toolbox for dealing with stress or finding a moment of peace. One way I, and many others, have found quiet time in today’s busy and noisy world is by combining coloring and prayer. Here are the reasons why this childhood interest is meaningful to my spiritual life now.
I’ve been preoccupied with a job search lately. When I’m anxious, grabbing my colored pencils and coloring books gives me a chance to focus my attention on something other than my daily worries. Coloring gets me out of my head. Picking out a color and filling in shapes or pictures puts me in a meditative state that makes it easier to enter into prayer. Coloring allows my mind to focus outward and upward toward God.
God gave each of us the gift of creativity. It is evident from the time we are young children with imaginations that run wild. Coloring is a great way to express that creativity. When I colored as a child, I didn’t worry about what colors I picked or about coloring outside the lines. I was fine with messiness. Adulthood is just as messy, but by focusing my energy on coloring I can start to make sense out of my complicated life. When I combine coloring and prayer, I offer thanksgiving to God for the gift of creativity, as well.
Coloring as prayer is very intentional and hands-on. In her books on the subject, author Sybil MacBeth suggests writing the names of loved ones in spaces on the coloring page and doodling around their names as you pray for them. When I tried this method, I felt a sense of closeness to the person I was praying for. The motions of writing made thoughts of them stir even more in my heart.
Coloring also allows for moments of personal reflection in prayer. One thing I learned as I colored and prayed was that my perfectionistic tendencies — coloring inside the lines, coloring close to reality (no purple hair for this girl) — were really an attempt to feel in control of my life when there was a lack of peace. Over time, I learned to be more free with my coloring and also learned I don’t have to be perfect in my relationship with God. I would worry about pleasing God, like I worry about pleasing others, but God loves me just as I am.
If you’re looking for a way to incorporate coloring into your prayer practice, check out Sybil MacBeth’s new book, “Pray and Color.” It includes templates to color and suggested prayers. Click here to download some free sample pages. Join me and lift a crayon in prayer!