What’s the point of coloring? How does that draw me closer to God?
The mindful practice of coloring books specifically for prayer and meditation is something we’ve been talking about here for a while. We’ve looked at how coloring can help you de-stress and take a step back from the busyness of your life. We’ve shown how coloring can play a similar role in your interior life to the ancient practice of walking or following a labyrinth.
There’s another practice that the act of coloring invokes: lectio divina.
Lectio divina means, quite simply, “holy reading,” but it is a deeper practice than what you might first assume. It’s a practice of scriptural reading, meditation, and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God's Word. It doesn’t treat scripture as texts to be studied, but as the living Word of God to be taken into your heart.
Lectio divina was begun in the sixth century by St. Benedict and formalized in the 12th century by a Carthusian monk, so while it’s not as ancient as the practice of praying with a labyrinth, lectio divina is well established within the Catholic tradition.
From the 12th century on, lectio divina comprises four separate steps:
So in lectio divina, first you read a passage of scripture, and then you reflect upon its meaning, then you pray with your focus on the meaning of the scripture passage, and finally you sit in contemplation of the Word of God.
It sounds easy, right? Just like coloring sounds easy. But it can be more difficult than you think to carve out time to spend with God and really make that a time when every part of your being is present. Coloring, tracing a labyrinth, and lectio divina are all ways in which you can make yourself available to God and to what he wants for you.
A Benedictine, Father Luke Dysinger, offers these instructions for practicing lectio divina:
Choose a text of the Scriptures that you wish to pray. Many Christians use in their daily lectio divina one of the readings from the eucharistic liturgy for the day; others prefer to slowly work through a particular book of the Bible.
Place yourself in a comfortable position and allow yourself to become silent. Some Christians focus for a few moments on their breathing; others have a beloved "prayer word" or "prayer phrase" they gently recite.
Turn to the text and read it slowly, gently. Savor each portion of the reading, constantly listening for the "still, small voice" of a word or phrase that somehow says, "I am for you today." Do not expect lightning or ecstasies. In lectio divina, God is teaching us to listen to him, to seek him in silence.
Take the word or phrase into yourself. Memorize it and slowly repeat it to yourself, allowing it to interact with your inner world of concerns, memories, and ideas. Do not be afraid of distractions. Allow this inner pondering, this rumination, to invite you into dialogue with God.
Speak to God. Whether you use words, ideas, or images--or all three--is not important. Interact with God as you would with one who you know loves and accepts you. And give to him what you have discovered during your experience of meditation.
Rest in God's embrace. And when he invites you to return to your contemplation of his word or to your inner dialogue with him, do so. Rejoice in the knowledge that God is with you in both words and silence, in spiritual activity and inner receptivity.
As you try it, you may find that, as for many people, the practice of lectio divina opens up a sacred space in which you don’t have to think, or form arguments, or make explanations. You simply have to be there. In the same way that the only choice for the labyrinth is to enter or not enter. In the same way that picking up a crayon enables you to stay in the moment and hear what God wants you to hear, feel what God wants you to feel.
In this month of August, as we turn our hearts and thoughts to heaven, why not find a way to feel closer to it, already, on earth?
Browse our coloring books here.