There are times when life defies language and words seem to sputter into a heap at my feet. 2014 was a year like that. I had moved back from a war zone in Africa after 7 years there founding a children’s rescue home. My health crashed after 18 rounds of cerebral malaria and forced me to make a move I never would have chosen otherwise.
Feeling like a foreigner in my own country, all I could do was walk one step at a time, one breath at a time rising above a stormy transition by His grace. Even the ways I had connected with God were stripped away in the process.
I couldn’t pray the way I had before. But I couldn’t not pray either. Raw with emotion one moment and numb the next, I sat with my Bible and stared blankly at the pages.
I knew God wasn’t absent. He is never absent. I know this and it is in the moments when I can’t see or feel that I must lean hardest on what I know. And in the leaning came a whisper.
Maybe I could pray with paint.
I walked over to my “corner studio” in the corner of my living room. I’m an artist/illustrator by trade. But what unfolded for me can happen for anyone. You don’t have to be able to draw or even consider yourself artistic.
We are made in the image of our Father Who is the Creator, right? Then His creativity lives on the inside of us and it cries for release and expression.
I found when I couldn’t pray with words, I could pray with color and image. I could sit with Jesus in my studio and spill my prayers on paper. Little by little my heart began to come back to life. My studio table became an altar on which to offer the broken pieces of crushed dreams.
It wasn’t about the end product; it was about the process. We so often focus on the product when God is far more concerned with our hearts simply being with Him in the midst of the process.
So, would any of you like to jump on in and give it a whirl? Why don’t we do a simple warm up exercise together? You can do this, I promise.
You’ll only need a few supplies. I understand what it is like to have to create in a vacuum. In South Sudan, I learned to make my own supplies to use with the children. I figured out how to mix non-toxic wood glue with tempera pigment to make a craft grade acrylic. Embrace the limitation. Some of the greatest creativity flows out of restriction.
Gather a notebook with blank paper, clips to keep it open, a pencil, pen, water in a cup and in a mister (like the little spray bottles in travel kits) and watercolors. I used a simple student grade set I keep around because it is super travel friendly.
Open the book up to a two-page spread. On the left page, sketch some simple representation of what 2014 has been like for you. Has it been a mountain you have climbed or a race you have won? How did it feel? Ask God about the lessons you have learned.
My 2014 may have been a gray foggy tangled mess, but my 2015 is bright with promise.
On the right hand page, have fun with color to make a background. An easy way to do this is to take a mister and spritz your page. It might buckle a bit but that’s ok. Wet your brush and start dabbing color into the water on the page. To keep the colors from getting muddy stick to color combinations like blue/green/purple, pink/purple, blue/yellow or red/orange/yellow. You can’t go wrong. Watch as the colors swirl together on the paper. Just like all the promises God has for us coming together in unexpected ways!
You can also use children’s water-based markers if paint is not within reach… dip them in the water on the page and watch the blending begin as you swirl them around.
While you wait for the page to dry, ask God to bring to mind a Scripture passage and show you what promises or insights He wants you to trust Him for in 2015. Once the background dries, grab a pen and sketch/doodle God’s promises as prayers back to Him for your new year.
I’d sure love to see what you come up with if you’d like link up below and share. We’ll all be encouraged by one another!
If you’d like to learn more about creative prayer journaling with Scripture, bookmark SketchbookPrayers.com. for tutorials, prompts, journal pages and an online creative community launching soon.
I pray your new year is filled to overflowing with color, wonder and joy.
You are loved- Michele