Two Hands: Grief and Gratitude in the Christian LifeSabbath Keeping FastingA Renewed SpiritualityNurturing Hope: Christian Pastoral Care in the Twenty-First CenturyThe Power of ListeningJoy Together: Spiritual Practices for Your CongregationPersonality Type in CongregationsPrayers of the Old TestamentPrayers of the New TestamentSabbathFriendingA Garden of Living Water: Stories of Self-Discovery and Spiritual GrowthDeath in Dunedin: A NovelDead Sea: A NovelDeadly Murmurs: A NovelBeating Burnout in CongregationsReaching Out in a Networked WorldEmbracing MidlifeAdvent DevotionalDraw Near: Lenten Devotional by Lynne Baab, illustrated by Dave Baab

Creative prayer with colors

Lynne Baab • Friday August 23 2019

Creative prayer with colors

Imagine you have just arrived at a church prayer meeting. The leader gives you a slip of paper and asks you to write down five things you are grateful for and five concerns you want to bring to God in prayer.

Then the leader shows you a box of pieces of fabric. All of the pieces are solid colors, and just about every color is represented. You can see different tones and shades of each color, too, bright yellow as well as pale yellow and gold. On a table the leader shows you pieces of paper and felt tip pens of various widths and colors.

The leader asks you to consider what color your praises, thanks and concerns would be, suggesting that you bring your prayers before God using color. You might pick one or two of the pieces of fabric and dance with them. You might draw shapes (but no words!) on paper using whatever colors seem right.

What color is your thankfulness that you had a bed and a home to sleep in last night? What color is your gratitude for family members and friends? What color is your concern for a friend’s illness,  political issues, or hunger and human need?

If you were to dance with a piece of colored fabric to represent your prayers, how would you move that fabric around? If you were to draw shapes in various colors to represent your prayers, what shapes would you draw?

I never participated in a prayer session like that, but I heard about it when I was conducting interviews ten years ago in Melbourne about arts in congregations. I was reminded of that way of praying with colors the other day when I was looking out our living room window at our tiny view of Lake Washington. The colors of the lake are a constant enchantment to me.

On that day, the water was silvery gray. I imagined that the lake was raising its prayers to God, and I wondered what the silvery gray represented. I thought about the range of colors of blue I can see in the lake on different days and at different times, and I thought about how those various blues might speak to God. I thought about how they call me to prayer.

The lake is sometimes pinkish, when it reflects the sunset. But it is never red. Do I need red to bring my passionate prayers to God for the injustice in this world, for the 16,000 children around the world who died yesterday as a result of hunger that is entirely preventable? Do I need dark purple to reflect my anguish about the state of the political discourse in the United States? Maybe a deep grayish maroon would capture my sadness when I drive past the tents of homeless people in Seattle and I pray for them.

Maybe I need a mix of colors like the painting by my husband that I have chosen to illustrate this post. My prayers hop around from thanks to sadness to pleading to mourning. Maybe I need to learn to paint so I can put colors on paper in a way that reflects a variety of moods of prayer.

 “O Lord my God, you are very great. You are clothed with honor and majesty, wrapped in light as with a garment” (Psalm 104:1-2). Light, the place where God dwells, bounces off objects and give us color. “In your light we see light” (Ps 36:9). Light, created by God, illuminates our world and makes it possible for us to see colors. Oh Lord, bring your light, and all the colors it makes possible, into our prayers.

Next week: creative prayer as the basic spiritual practice of the kingdom of God. Illustration by Dave Baab. I welcome subscribers to my blog. If you’d like to receive and email when I post on this blog, sign up under “subscribe” below (for cell phones) or in the right hand column (for laptops).

Book highlight – Joy Together: Spiritual Practices for Your Congregation. I give examples and stories of ways small groups and whole congregations can engage in spiritual practices together. I emphasize six specific spiritual practices: thankfulness, fasting, contemplative approaches to prayer, contemplative approaches to the Bible, hospitality and Sabbath keeping.

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