So, I want to share a practice called “the Body Prayer” with my Messiah friends, but before I do, I thought it best to introduce myself. If I use the pronoun, “I”, I imagine you all would like to know who “I” am!
I am Laura Priebe, and I am the author of this particular blog post.
You, members and friends of Messiah Lutheran Church in Green Hills, Ohio, can also contribute to this blog. Just email Pastor Stuckwisch at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you too, can be the author of a blog post. You can even use the pronoun “I”!
A blog post doesn’t have to be long. It can even be a link to an article you found, or a video, or a photo and your thoughts about it. You can do it – remember, Every Body Matters in the Body of Christ!
Back to “the Body Prayer”…
If you’ve learned to ride a bike, play the piano, or even type in a password without thinking about it, you know that our muscles remember repetitive actions. That muscle memory is one of the reasons we teach hand motions to kids to go along with Bible songs – it’s like the motions engrave a concept on the muscles of your body, and in so doing, they are inserted into a deeper part of the brain. It’s called kinesthetic learning, and it’s not just for kids!
Exercise combined with prayer is one of the best ways I know to engrave spiritual truths more deeply into my soul. That’s what the Body Prayer is all about.
If you can breathe deeply, raise your hands, stretch your arms out wide, and bend over (or even just bow your head), you can do the Body Prayer.
So here’s how it goes – I even drew little pictures to help you visualize it –
- Raise your hands above your head while taking a deep breath. The words of the prayer with this motion are “Oh God, our Father…” Think of how He is the Father of the WHOLE world.
- While exhaling, lower your arms so that they are stretched out to your sides, cross-like. The words of the prayer with this motion are “Christ, our Redeemer…” Think about how Jesus died for ALL.
- Inhale and bring your hands down and around to rest as in prayer in front of your heart. Pray, “Holy Spirit…”
- Exhale and move your hands out, and pray “Open my heart…” Inhale here as you feel the stretch of your chest and heart opening. This inhale also prepares you for the next move, which is surrendering and bowing…
- Exhale, move your hands out, face up, as you bend at the waist, and pray, “I surrender this day to you.”
I like to repeat this three times. I just enjoy simple stretches, and for me it takes at least three times to really think about the prayer as I am doing it.
If your motions are limited or you’re not that flexible, you can do this prayer seated, just modify it by bowing your head instead of folding at the waist.
I have to give credit to Sibyl Towner, who showed it to me at her beautiful home in Oldenburg, Indiana. Sibyl and her husband Dick, a retired Presbyterian pastor, joined with others to create The Springs, a retreat center dedicated to providing a place for respite for those in ministry. (A simple click will take you their website).
I truly hope you give it a try!
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