"Soon the names of those I held in my heart sprung forth on the page, and I prayed for those people while adding circles of color around their names."
More than a Coloring Book
Pray and Color, a new book by Sybil MacBeth, is so much more than a coloring book. Indeed, as the subtitle suggests, this book is a guide to prayer. In many ways, Pray and Color is an extension of Macbeth's first book, Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God (Paraclete Press, 2007). MacBeth warmly invites the reader on a journey that marries creativity and spirituality. Her guidance is encouraging, and her instructions are simple.
MacBeth's philosophy is, "Showing up and participating is important. Creating a beautiful work of art or an eloquent prayer is not" (p. 12). Her book is different than other adult coloring books in that the beginning chapters suggest ideas for connecting with God through coloring.
How Pray and Color Saved my Summer
Over the summer I got married, completed graduate school, bought a house with my husband, and moved! Wonderful? YES! Stressful? YES! Prayer and God's tremendous blessings made it all possible, though I didn't have much extra time. I remember arriving home on one particularly stressful day before the wedding, I was overwhelmed and frazzled to say the least. I yearned for the type of soul-deep refreshment that only the Holy Spirit can give.
Pulling out my colored pencils and Pray and Color, I flopped on my bed and began to do exactly that: pray and color. I also happened to pop in a music CD called Chants of Angels (also from Paraclete Press). The Gregorian chant shepherded my prayers, while Sybil MacBeth's simple doodle outlines guided my pencil marks into swirls, lines, and simple shapes. Soon the names of those I held in my heart sprung forth on the page, and I prayed for those people while adding circles of color around their names.
The circles transformed into hearts linking me and my husband to-be; marking prayers for our marriage. A square grew a triangle, which evolved to a home – we were fervently praying for a place to live. Even the simplest squiggle was imbued with the Spirit's gift of peace. The pencil-prayer combination seemed to wash away my frenzy with each line.
When I looked up at the clock, I was astonished that only 30 minutes had passed in praying, coloring, and listening to the angelic chants. I felt like a completely different woman! Buoyed by the music, prayers, and the now-colorful page, I was calm.
How is the Book Organized?
The ways that I prayed in the vignette above were directly taken from MacBeth's suggestions: focus on God, add names and/or prayers in the space, and add doodles. MacBeth includes other ideas for praying and coloring, such as:
- Disgruntled Prayers
- Gratitude Prayers
- Adoration or Praise Prayers
- Confession or Regret Prayers
- Blessing Prayers
- Praying for your Enemies
- Praying a Passage of Scripture
- Praying Your To-Do List
- Daily Inventory Prayer--The Examen
- Praying in Calendars
Each idea is accompanied by an explanation and model. The rest of the book holds pages with a wide assortment of black and white lines and shapes waiting for your brush or pencil tip. I personally appreciate that the designs are only printed on one-side of the page so that if you color hard or use markers or paints, they don't seep into other designs.
Since that one transformative day, I have sat to pray and color frequently, sometimes for a minute or two, and sometimes longer. Each sitting invites play and a new creative spiritual journey. The connection between my mind and body invites me to internal quietness, and the visual representation stays in my mind. I highly recommend Pray and Color, as well as Chants of Angels, to add another dimension to your prayer time. You will be vividly transformed!
Alexis Chin is a passionate Christian educator who specializes in designing arts-integrated curriculum that gives students the opportunity to meaningfully connect their real lives and God’s word. She partners with churches to create interactive children’s programs and can be reached at alexiskruza.wordpress.com.
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