Paint Your Prayers

A surprising way to use your imagination to enlarge your faith

Two years ago after an unexpected career loss that happened to coincide with the devastating death of one of my friends, I picked up some sketchbooks and a vibrant assortment of colored markers. For 12 months I sat beneath shady trees or by a fire where I scribbled, sketched, and scrawled images, words, and Scriptures that careened into my imagination. I painted my prayers.

Images of seeds and vines, doves, stitched quilts, and red birds decorated white pages. Almost calligraphic (I'm a writer, not an artist) song lyrics and verses I'd memorized as a child poured out on the paper in vivid color and liberating swirls. Within weeks—and before I even realized it—the first blank book was completely filled with soulful images and God's numinous responses.

Since then I've filled dozens of notebooks with painted supplications, intercessions, and thanksgivings. Before I started painting my prayers, though, I remember feeling guilty if I didn't do Bible study or pray conventionally every day. Somehow, I felt like I wasn't doing the Christian life right. For some unknown reason, I felt that connecting with God in other—less left-brained, more imaginative and creative—ways was, somehow, less spiritual. Time and time again, though, my ideal of faith-filled living bumped on the pothole riddled road of reality. I felt less compelled to do another plug and chug Bible study. I was void of the energy to pray and listen to God in the ways I had for my entire life.

Instead, I found freedom, spontaneity, fun, and a mind-blowing openness to the grandiosity of God when I sat with my markers and sketchbook. With this new, unconventional, beyond formulaic way, I discovered new, deeper, more profound connections with the divine. Surprisingly enough I found that during overwhelmed, stressed-out times when the need for spiritual bolstering was quintessential, I could paint my prayers (just scribble out my heart to God) and fortify my faith in a visual, organic, simultaneously childlike and maturing way.

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May 25

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