The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Doodle your way into prayer

Sketching gives new shape to meditation

Are you looking for ways to refresh your prayer life? Try reading Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God (Paraclete Press, 2007) by Sybil MacBeth, an Episcopalian who also writes and edits math textbooks.

She suggests a simple way to create visual prayers with nothing more than a pen and colored pencils.

Praying in ColorIt’s specifically for people, like the author, who “cannot draw a cat. Or a dog. Or anything else for that matter.”

Basically the method is outlining and coloring shapes—any shapes. Does this sound like an activity for children?

The author asserts that it can be childlike and playful but is definitely appropriate for adults. She has led many workshops, with demonstrations.

MacBeth began the practice at a time when many of her loved ones were suffering from illness or other crises. She had a long prayer list and tried diligently to pray aloud or silently.

But she couldn’t relax enough to feel that she was praying deeply. She began doodling shapes and writing in the names of those she wanted to pray for.

She started adding color and then squiggles or details (a flower, a heart, a balloon) that suggested a particular person.

She found that she became immersed in the activity. Drawing gave her feelings of freedom and creativity.

MacBeth writes in a light and informal style, full of humor. The book contains many drawings—both hers and others’.

One is her depiction of a quilt in which she visualized wrapping her young son. The shapes are simply adjoining squares filled with colorful dots, lines or other patterns.

There is also a DVD of Praying in Color. Order either from Paraclete Press or call 800-451-5006.




Posted at 11:53 pm (U.S. Eastern) 6/10/2008

I have been practicing doodling for prayer for a few months now, based on this book. I'm especially 'drawn' to the use of doodling during Lectio Divina. I can really see how the things that are catching my eye during scripture reading connect with how I'm feeling that very day, when I look at what I've drawn. It is wonderful to explore prayer and scripture in a different but very meaningful way.

Thank you, Sybil, for writing this book! 

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