Sunday Night Musings: Praying with Pencil

During Eastertide (Pascaltide) we're looking at Psalms, and instead of sermons people can choose between three different options of interaction with the evening's Psalm. I was asked to lead one and had an opportunity to lead a session tonight. We looked at Psalm 16. One person lead a teaching on the psalm. Another lead a session where after looking at the psalm, participants went around the church and took pictures of images that captured parts of the psalm for them. I led a session I called "Praying with Pencil."

About a year ago I read the book Praying in Black and White by Sybil and Andy Macbeth (Sybil originally wrote a book called Praying in Color, which I haven't read; the former book is aimed towards men, the latter toward women and children).  In it they talk about using your pencil (pen/markers/crayons) to pray. Focusing on a word or phrase, you simply doodle, letting the activity with your pencil help keep you focused in prayer.

Sometimes when I attempt contemplative prayer, I have difficulty focusing in the stillness. My mind wanders. I can't sit that still. I want to take a nap. But I've found that if I have a pencil and can just keep it moving, I can keep focused on a word or phrase and enter into it prayerfully.

So I talked a little about that experience tonight and then led the group that was with me through a lectio divina (divine reading) exercise. I read the psalm out loud a few times, pausing after each reading. As I did so, I had participants pick out a word or phrase that stuck out for them, that God was giving them to focus on. They were asked to write it down, and then just doodle, focusing on that word or phrase as they did so.

I don't do it all the time, but once in a while during my quiet time I pull out my journal and doodle or draw with a verse I'm reading. I have found that I am able to focus on prayer a little more deeply sometimes when my pencil keeps moving.

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