I am a big fan of Sybil MacBeth’s Praying in Color method (Or Praying in Black and White if you happen to be a masculine soul). It involves using drawings and colored pencils (or markers and crayons) to sort of mindmap your devotional life—intercessory prayer, Lectio Divina, prayers of gratitude, etc. It is a perfect way to focus, for those of us who’s mind wanders during prayer. Prayers are captured in journals, sketchbooks and on graph paper. A record of our doodled devotion. My wife has used this same method in children’s ministry, teaching kids to draw their prayers.
While I have benefitted from Macbeth’s method, I can, at times, be distracted by it. For the artistically inclined (or in my case, reclined), drawing prayers can draw us away from the heart of true prayer, when we focus on the quality of our drawings instead of the prayer we are praying (Macbeth’s notes the struggles artists have with this method in a parenthetical note in Praying in Black and White).
Macbeth and Paraclete Press have produced a new series of “Praying in Color” coloring books. Like other coloring books that Paraclete has produced, there are scriptures, quotations and other prompts on the left-hand pages, and a coloring sheet on the right-hand page. The difference is the right-hand pages reproduce the sort of ‘mindmap’ patterns which MacBeth uses in her Praying in Color books and workshops. The result is a simple, accessible way to appropriate her method in our own personal prayer times. Because the form is already given, it minimizes some of the artist’s distraction.
There are several volumes of these coloring books, corresponding to different ways of praying. Praying for Others in Color has Names and Titles of God on the Left-hand pages as a prompt to prayer (e.g. Abba, Deliverer, God of Compassion, Bread of Life, Holy Spirit, Restorer, etc), the right-hand page designs have bubbles and shapes to incorporate the name of God and those you are praying for (imaging God’s connection and care for those you bring before him). The images can be colored, augmented, added to, or simply written on as an aid to prayer.
Contemplating Scripture in Color is a chance to use drawing and coloring in Lectio Divina. MacBeth’s introduction instructs you how to use the words and images in the process of our scriptural meditation and prayer. We begin with Lectio (reading), reading the scriptural passage that accompanies the image, circling the word or phrase that jumps out on you. Meditatio (Meditation/chewing) we are invited to write down everything we associate with that word, and to write our word on the coloring page and to ask God to share what he has to say about that word as we color. Oratio (Speaking) we speak our prayers to God as we color, maybe writing prayers and questions in the margins. Contemplatio (contemplate) is a ‘cool down period,’ a time to out down your pen and markers and sit with what emerged from the time. Several of the pages are left blank so that we can choose our own passage of Scripture and make our own drawings.
Count Your Blessings in Color is a chance to express gratitude. With prompts from scripture and quotes (from novelists, spiritual writers, and other luminaries), we are instructed to use these images to ‘count our blessings,’ creating a visual reminder of the what we have received.
Unlike most adult coloring books, the pages of each of these coloring books become a sort of spiritual journal as we pray for others, meditate on scripture or count our blessings. As with MacBeth’s other Praying in Color books, there is no right way to use these coloring books or preferred method. This is simply a format to help you dive deeper into the land of prayer. Users of these coloring books will find a nice balance between set formats and creative freedom.
These coloring books are great for personal use and make great gifts. I give them five stars. -★★★★★
Notice of material connection: I recieved copies of these coloring books from the publiser in exchange for my honest review