Visual Prayer: How to Begin Before You Know Where To Start

By Katie Helmreich

Some days prayer feels daunting. Where to begin? We struggle to focus. We can’t seem to slow down. We don’t know how to verbalize what’s most on our heart. We constantly get interrupted. Sometimes we set out to pray and end up worrying or getting angry all over again instead…

The Holy Spirit intercedes for us even when we cannot pray on our own (Romans 8:26)! It’s a tremendous comfort to know that God hears and understands us, and that the Holy Spirit transforms our hearts, guiding us within God’s will!

We know our cares are in the Father’s loving hands. But… even though my brain knows this truth, sometimes my heart needs a visual reminder. 

My three-year-old daughter, Jane, knows how to “trap” things. She’s got random traps in various places, but her favorite way to trap things is on paper. Jane draws a monster or a bug and then circles it with a flourish, shouting “TRRRRAP!!!” 

I have found writing and doodling my prayers to be transforming. When I see my prayers “TRAPPED” on the page, I am assured over and over again that I have left these things at my Savior’s feet. When I don’t know where to begin I have found that simply moving a pen on the page allows me to be still as the Spirit helps me to pray. 

Are you struggling to pray? Perhaps this method may bless you, as well!

Begin before you know where to start. Grab something to write with and a piece of paper, an old envelope, anything. In the middle write “Dear Lord Jesus,” or “Father in heaven,” whatever suits you.

Sometimes that’s all it takes to open the prayer floodgates. But if not, draw a few random shapes or grab something small to trace (like a lid, paperclip, eraser, Band-Aid, whatever is close at hand). Draw or trace your shape multiple times, overlapping them a bit at random (or not–whatever feels like your style).

 Health and healing often top our prayer lists. Tracing a Band-Aid creates great prayer spaces that double as a visual symbol of healing. Filling spaces with doodles particularly helps an anxious mind regain order and a calmer pace as you pray.

As you trace pray for guidance, peace, and clarity in your prayer time. Then as you think of things to pray about, write one in each of the spaces you’ve created. When you run out of ideas, start coloring, writing, or doodling within space you’ve written in as you pray over each different item on your visual prayer list! 

As the Spirit guides you in prayer, you may find you have more to pray over than you thought. Just keep writing. When you feel that all that is troubling you has been captured (or trapped!) in the presence of Jesus, use spaces to pray praise and thanksgiving! 

If your prayer time is interrupted, just set your paper aside and pull it out to continue when you next have a moment. I find it easy to keep a single prayer going through an entire day that way. After all, my days are often full of interruptions! And Jesus is always willing to give me grace; I know He’ll still be there when I start coloring and praying again.

Kids are drawn to this type of prayer as well! Index cards are a great size and easy to keep handy. Try this with the kids in your life; it’s easy to share, even via video chat!

When you’ve finished your sheet, you have all sorts of options: tuck it in your Bible, journal, or planner. Stick it to the mirror in your bathroom. Mail it to the person you prayed for. Toss it in the recycling. 

Depending on the prayer, you might want to wrap things up more dramatically: shred it and use it as kindling. Tear it up and let the bits float away on the breeze. Or blend it to paper pulp like we did when my eldest and I prayed for victory over pre-Geography Bee nerves!

We know, with unshakable certainty, that God hears our prayer and answers us! Physical reminders of time in prayer offer our hearts tangible reassurance when concerns threaten to overwhelm us once again. Bring your requests to your Savior. Write them down, circle them with a flourish and declare them “TRAPPED” by grace, knowing all things are within your loving Father’s control!  


  1. “When I see my prayers “TRAPPED” on the page, I am assured over and over again that I have left these things at my Savior’s feet.” Such a great visual and reminder!

  2. The idea of “trapping” my prayers is oddly freeing! BIG SMILE! Thanks for this!

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