4 Ways to Let Your Hands Do the Praying

Sometimes a simple gesture or two is as good as anything your lips can express.

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Posted in , Apr 19, 2022

Hands in prayer

Remember the yellow pages, those once-indispensable phone book pages that listed business numbers and addresses? I was recently reminded of the commercials that urged, “let your fingers do the walking through the yellow pages.

I’ve been spending more time than usual in the dentist’s chair—even blogging about how to pray in that situation. This visit, however, was longer and more involved than ever. After praying through my usual mental list, my brain—and jaw—was pretty tired. That’s when I thought I felt or heard the Spirit of God’s invitation to let my hands do the praying. So I did. 

1)  Palms Open
I began by simply extending my arms, opening my hands and turning my palms up as a gesture of openness and receptivity to the “still small voice” of God. It was a physical and spiritual relief; I had been gripping the armrest like a passenger on the Titanic. It gave my muscles a respite and my soul a much-needed signal to relax. I didn’t pray anything in particular (that I remember, anyway) but simply let my open hands do the “talking.” 

2)  Palms Flat
Next, I turned my palms over and held them flat while envisioning my worries and fears—how much will this procedure cost, will more work be necessary, what if the insurance company balks, etc.—dropping them all into God’s hands. I breathed easier and felt my muscles relax further and my pulse slow. 

3)  Hands Folded
After a while in that position, I pressed my hands together, like the famous “Praying Hands” painting. I half expected the dentist and dental assistant to remark on my prayerful posture, but they never did. So again, I let my hands do the praying. I asked the Holy Spirit, on the basis of Romans 8:26, to intercede for me—to translate my praying hands into all the petitions I could or should be praying. 

4)  Hands Lifted
Finally, when most of the work was finished, and the dentist and assistant left the room for a few moments, I lifted my hands in the air, like that Bible verse about “lifting holy hands.” Holy or not, the gesture was, for me, one of gratitude and praise, anticipating the end of a successful procedure and my coming deliverance from the ordeal. 

Letting your hands do the praying can be a helpful practice in other places besides the dentist’s chair. On an airplane, perhaps, or on a train. In a long line at the bank. Or anywhere, really, where you’ve run out of words or find it difficult to focus. In such situations, a simple gesture or two can be as good or better prayer than any your lips can express.

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