Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God, by Sybil MacBeth, is a book by an adult for adults about praying in a way that to some may seem childish. Much of it explores prayer in rather abstract adult terms. But behind it is a way of praying that is natural to children and that can be a way for them to participate in worship with their fingers.
Basically the worshiper draws a scribble leaving large loopy holes. A person or topic is tucked into each hole. Writers can print words and names. Pre-writers draw pictures. Both then add doddles and design in each hole as they think about that person or topic in the presence of God. Just a few specific ways to invite children into this way of praying include:
- Give them the overall topic of a prayer inviting them to draw one big scribble, then writing ideas about that topic in each hole and adding to the holes. For example, on the last Sunday of August this year, I suggest that children be invited to draw a doodle prayer praising God for good parts of their summer.
- Encourage children to keep doodle worship journals. Each Sunday is one page. On that page a child does a collection of small doodle prayers about their private concerns, things they hear in worship and want to add to, and ideas they want to remember.
- At the beginning of a worship service introduce the word or key theme of worship. Say it. Define it. Spell it. Challenge children to copy the word on a piece of paper, then to add doodles around it as they hear the word said, sung, and prayed during worship.
- Before reading a scripture story, name the key characters in the story. Instruct children to put one in each hole in a scribble. Then, invite them to add doodles that fit that person as they listen to the story and the sermon about the story.
- Give children empty calendars for a week or a season (maybe Advent). Challenge them to write or draw something they want to share with God in each day. They might add the drawings day by day or set the topics at the beginning of the period, then fill in the doodles day by day. (See Chapter 13)
- Make a prayer for “my people” scribble. Write the name of a person you will be with this week in each hole. Then doodle about each person in God’s presence. This would be a good prayer exercise after the first week of school. Challenge children to write names of teachers and students who they now know they will be with a lot this year at school and then doodle pray about each one and about the whole group.
- And, I am sure there are more.
To encourage these prayers in worship, provide paper and markers. Also provide a place to offer those prayers to God. A prayer box or basket in a central spot is a good place to leave prayers. Children (and other paper pray-ers) may be invited to silently drop their prayers into the basket during the offering or even as prayer concerns are being stated. Promise confidentiality and be sure it is respected!
If you are reading Praying in Color to find a way for children to pray, start with Chapter 3. Then jump to Chapter 7 and keep reading. Later you may want to go back and pick up the other chapters.