By Rick Hamlin
Get Your Body into Prayer
I’m one of the frozen chosen. Put me in a church group of brothers and sisters praising God with swaying bodies, clapping hands and stomping feet to a rock-band beat and I look like... well, like a 50-something gray-haired dude who should be in an accounting office. I’m as stiff as a board when called to move to the Spirit.
So the other morning as I was pondering Psalm 63, I lingered over the verse, “So will I bless you as long as I live and lift up my hands in your Name.” Lift up my hands? Do I have to? Is that what we’re all supposed to do?
Later I was doing my usual workout at the gym, grunting and groaning beneath the 40-pound barbell, when it occurred to me that the verse wasn’t just talking about praising God in church. Maybe it was telling me that I could pray with my whole body, not just my voice or my thoughts in my head. Every time I lifted up my hands, for instance, I could use that gesture as one of praise. Even at the gym. It would certainly be better than grunting and groaning.
prayer is a habit and when you can link a gesture with a prayerful thought, you’re giving yourself a valuable tool. Think of all the times you lift up your hands in a day. Getting the coffee mug out of the cupboard, picking that book off a shelf, stretching your arms at the beginning of a day. What if those were moments of praise? The good Lord gave us bodies to make our way through this earthly life—St. Francis ruefully referred to his as “brother ass.” Why not call on our bodies to raise our spirits?
Actors know how a physical action can provoke an emotional response. Smile and you feel happy. Clench your fists and stiffen your jaw and you can recreate the physical symptoms of anger. Try lifting up your hands and see what happens.
It always makes me smile. Thaws out one of the frozen chosen.