Thursday, August 11, 2011

A New (for me) Form of Prayer

I struggle with prayer. Mostly, I struggle with staying focused.

For example, I may start out praying for my little sister. A few seconds later, though, I realize that I also wanted to pray for the victims of the latest natural disaster that I read about in the news. Then I may remember that I never spent time confessing sins that I know need to be confessed, which might lead me to praying for a coworker I dislike and want to learn to love. Then my thoughts may start wandering to the to-do list I have sitting on my desk at work and I start making a mental note of things I forgot to put on the list in the first place. I start to worry that I won’t have time to get everything done that day, and I pull out my planner to write down the absolutely imperative things I’m afraid I’ll forget.

Before I know it, I’ve worried myself right out of prayer and into the nitpicky details of my daily life. At that point, if I’m feeling especially tenacious, I’ll try to discipline and quiet my mind back into a prayerful state, but if I’m feeling anything less than the utmost motivation, I’ll give up and move onto the rest of my morning routine before leaving for work.

Because I struggle so much with prayer, I try to learn more about prayer. And because there are oh-so-many books about prayer, I know I am not alone in my struggle.

An acquaintance of mine introduced me to new book on prayer recently: Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God. The back of the book describes that this form of prayer “…can take as little or as much time as you have or want to commit… Drawing is half the prayer, the other half is transporting the visual memories or actual images with you to pray throughout the day.”

I was inspired, and after reading through the book (a quick read), I took my somewhat inflexibly pragmatic brain to task. I’ve included some of my most recent in-color prayers. The first one shows my prayer through and meditation on a psalm:

The second one here shows a prayer of frustration about a sin I struggle with, as well as prayers for some organizations that my husband and I support. (The name of a missionary we support has been whited out of the shape on the right.)

Because I tend to be a visual learner, this has helped me call to mind prayers throughout the day when I normally wouldn’t think to pray.

And, let’s be honest, the bold colorful result at the end of a prayer time is also part of why I like this prayer form. Sometimes I just want a tangible result to my prayers, and this is one way to gratify that desire a little bit without trying to force God into a corner and demand that He make the prayer time feel worthwhile before I leave the act of prayer.

This prayer form takes more time than what I usually allot myself to pray, but the results are a richer and more focused time of prayer.

I think I’ll continue to pray in color, at least sometimes.

While I wait, I also learn to pray.

1 comment:

  1. Hill, hope you don't mind if I read right along. I've loved your posts so far... and this one makes me think I'll need to read that book. I struggle in much of the same way with my prayers.