Color When You’re Too Scared to Pray

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at his disposition, and listening to his voice in the depth of our hearts.” (Mother Teresa)

Words like these bring my heart to a screeching halt. We have a lot we need in these frightening times. We need money. We need health. We need job security. Or a new job. We need help caring for kids. We need someone to check in on loved ones that live hundreds or thousands of miles away. We need to build our business again or figure out a new way to live a meaningful life. We need someone to understand what we are going through trying to homeschool kids, meet deadlines, and keep a family calm. We need someone to understand our broken heart if we have lost someone to COVID-19. We need someone to care.

Sure, you might say, a saint can say prayer is not asking, prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God. Saints must not have been in such precarious situations as we are today! We feel responsible for making things work, for fixing problems, for building a future, for laying plans.

The weight of our pain is exhausting. It is unfair that we’ve been duped into thinking that it’s all up to us. That if we just work harder… no, not harder, smarter… and put in long enough hours it will all work out…. Hopefully.

And yet this pandemic shows us that we aren’t ultimately able to plan anything for sure. The only sure and certain thing is God and his promise to be with us in the valleys of tears and the mountaintops of glory.

When we’re scared, it’s hard to sit still. When we’re worried, we can’t keep our mind focused on the words of a prayer. When we’ve lost it all, or said goodbye to a loved one over a cell phone, unable to hold their hand at their last breath, we don’t have the energy to kneel and read the comfort of Psalm 23.

If, for whatever reason, you’re finding it hard to pray, I invite you to color. Coloring moves us into a different mental and emotional space, where we can find ourselves stepping back from the push-and-pull of feverishly frantic thoughts. The present moment comes into the foreground. Our hearts settle, and our brains enter a meditative state. Our breathing and heartrate slow down. We begin to rest as we experience the loosening of muscles. Our anxiety begins to fade from our awareness.

Coloring bypasses the rational part of the brain and accesses, instead, that “imaginal” part of us. Negative thoughts begin to dissipate as we focus on creating something beautiful. In fact, coloring has been shown to significantly lower the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Besides coloring yourself calm, coloring can also lead to prayer. I personally love the coloring book Our Lady’s Garden because I feel like I am in Mary’s garden myself while I’m coloring. I re-experience myself as her child, the one she loves and cares for. Coloring books used for prayer and meditation are made to lead your soul to God’s presence and light after you have relaxed your mind, heart, and body.

Here in this calm and translucent space where God’s presence is more powerful than what we fear, we can—as Mother Teresa says—listen to God’s voice in the depth of our hearts. And in these days of world crisis how much we need his voice to soothe our spirits and open up a future that God alone can provide for us!


God has amazing ways of knocking on people’s hearts, awakening desires, arousing questions, provoking an unexpected spiritual fire. If you have enjoyed this article, and are ready to embark on a sustained spiritual journey, here are 6 ways you can join me on the journey:
  1. Join my private Facebook Group and walk the road of healing with a great group of people. I offer a half-hour live spiritual conference here Tuesday evenings at 7pm EST
  2. Sign-up for my letter Touching the Sunrise. I write a letter a couple times a month from my heart to yours to support you along the way.
  3. Explore my books: Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach; Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments; Just a Minute Meditations Deeper Trust and Inner Peace. Enroll in the free 5-day email series introducing Reclaim Regret.
  4. Enroll in courses on Midlife, Contemplative Prayer, and a do-it-yourself downloadable Surviving Depression retreat
  5. Become a part of the HeartWork Community, a place where you can ask the hard questions and find a path to a life that is free, fulfilling and fruitful.

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