Praying with Our Bodies
Sometimes, we can get trapped into thinking that something is only “prayer” if we’re talking to God. Maybe it’s during a church service, at home with our Bibles, or even on a walk, but we still assume that prayer requires words.
But our embodiedness is one of many ways we are connected to God, and God has declared it good (see Genesis 1). This means that using our bodies to pray is every bit as valid as reciting words. In this post, I will share a “body prayer” adapted from a few different prayers I’ve learned over the years.
This prayer flows through a cycle of postures, and it can be done sitting or standing. I like to link each posture to an intention, so that when I’m embodying that posture, I’m also embodying that intention, even without words.
Here are the postures with their corresponding intentions:
Hands folded in prayer over your chest. Find your inner quiet.
Arms outstretched over your head, head tilted up. Praise and thank God.
Hands gently placed over your heart. Recognize your body as part of the body of Christ.
Arms opened outward in front of you. Offer your gifts to the world.
Hands gently placed over your heart. Draw the love of God into your heart.
Arms down at your side, palms open forward. Open yourself to the movement of the Holy Spirit.
Hands folded in prayer over your chest. Return to inner quiet.
You’ll notice that postures 1 and 7 are the same as one another, as are postures 3 and 5. If you do them all in a row, you end up where you started!
To pray this prayer, stay with each position for a breath or two, allowing yourself to feel the intention but not necessarily saying the words. Then move to the next one for a breath or two. I like to cycle through the whole thing at least three times. If you don’t “know” what you’re supposed to be praying in each moment, that’s okay. The idea is to be present with your body, and to invite God to be present with you.