About this Book

Prayer really does change things. Not only does God answer our prayers, He often answers them in ways we do not expect. There is power in prayer: it changes our circumstances and transforms us. God uses our prayers to shape our lives and perspectives, and to impact the lives of those around us. When we communicate with God, He hears every word we speak. He knows the thoughts of our hearts before we express them in words.

My view of prayer has been shaped by many people. On my journey of faith, I have met and prayed with people from all around the world. I have learned that the world is enormous, and I have observed that people do things differently in different places. This diversity reveals the heart of God and the creativity of God – especially when we consider all the different ways that we can communicate with God and He with us.

While studying at Asbury Theological Seminary, I was blessed by a course entitled A Life of Prayer. In this class, we studied, practiced, and learned about the many ways in which we communicate with God. The purpose of the class was to develop and grow our prayer lives. We read and discussed Richard Foster’s book, Prayer, which highlights the importance of learning to communicate with God in many different ways. This book also explains how our prayer lives grow and evolve in different seasons of a life with God. During the course, my desire to pray and my hunger to know God through new methods of prayer increased significantly. More than anything, I was reminded that prayer should be simple and easy, no different than talking to a spouse or friend about things that are on our hearts.

During this season of studying, experiencing, and growing in prayer, I encountered the idea of praying with art. This was completely new for me and something that I never would have envisioned, since I do not consider myself an artist. I had never considered drawing, painting, sketching, or doodling my prayers. For some, painting, drawing, or sketching their prayers helps them remain more focused in their time with God. I have found that for kids, art makes prayer fun – even if it gets a little messy! Think about it: we live in a visual world where we are inundated with pictures and visuals. Why not use pictures and visuals as a means of communicating with God?

This discovery led me to experiment with art as a means of praying with my children. The results were awesome and my kids’ art and prayers began filling our home. Encouraged by what I was experiencing with my own children, I decided to try it with others – namely, the children of Selma, Alabama, our first ministry home after I graduated seminary.

In the summer of 2018, I began to pray with children all over Selma. I took paper, paint, brushes, pencils, crayons, and the Bible to different children and prayed with them each week. The kids were surprised and excited to learn that God heard their prayers expressed through their art. Through lots of painting, spills, and laughs, the prayers of the children of Selma came to life.

Each time I met with the children, we talked about prayer and I would give them a prompt for painting their prayers and dreams for their lives and their city. I was blessed to pray with more than 150 children of different ages, races, and backgrounds. The result: hundreds of pieces of art, each a prayer and dream of a child for his or her city, family, and life.

I was amazed by the children with whom I prayed. God revealed Himself through their desire to share their hearts and prayers with me. As I prayed with these children, I became aware that God was transforming me as I heard and saw their prayers come to life in color. As I shared their prayers and stories with friends around Selma, I realized that God was touching people through the painted prayers of Selma’s children. I knew that I must share these prayers with the people of Selma, but I also understood that these prayers were not just for Selma – they are a gift from the children of Selma to people everywhere. This realization inspired me to write Painted Prayers.

Painted Prayers is a tool for encountering God in a new way. My prayer is that God will also use this book as a means for you to encounter other people in your community. I have found that the prayers of the children of Selma are representative of the prayers of people of all ages offered around the world. The challenges in Selma are not unique to Selma– these prayers and prayer points are universal. May you encounter God through these painted prayers and devotions and go forth as an agent of his mercy and grace in every place He leads you.

To God be the glory,

Matt Schell