How Scripture Hints at Praying with Your Whole Body

Prayer can be so much more than just bowing our heads.

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Posted in , Mar 24, 2022

Praying with your whole body

It’s so easy to think of the body as separate from the soul, and that when we pray it’s our mouths and our heads doing it, nothing to do with our bodies. But didn’t Jesus say “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30)? Emphasis added.

I often bow my head and close my eyes when I pray. But Scripture hints at so many other ways of doing it.

I appeal to you…by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1) Note that last line of Paul’s: Our bodies are meant for spiritual worship. We stand, we sit, we raise our hands, we raise our voices, we kneel at the altar, we bow, we clap. Even in church, we can throw our bodies into it.

But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles…(Isaiah 40:31) Waiting for the Lord might sound like a passive thing, like sitting at the airport waiting for a flight. And yet, here it’s a source of strength, both inner and outer. How do eagles fly? They spread their wings, flap them a few times and mount up to the heavens by catching the air drifts. Stretch your arms out and feel that.

For it was you who formed my inward parts…I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13-14) When we move, we honor our Creator. We are a host of moving parts. Next time you go for a walk, think of how wonderfully made you were and are. That we can balance on our two feet and move joyfully, vigorously, gratefully. Acknowledging that is a prayer in itself.

David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the Lord with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. (2Samuel 6:5) You don’t have to be trained in liturgical dance to dance before the Lord. I doubt that David went to any dancing classes. But he knew how valuable it was to express himself to God with his whole body. Can’t you just see it? And from the look of it, he had a whole band with him. Rock on!

But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray. (Luke 5:15-16) How would Jesus have gotten away? He couldn’t have stepped into a car and driven off, seeking one of those remote places. Most likely He would have walked. Taking yourself to a quiet place can be a prayer. The desire to pray is a prayer. Move all you want in that “deserted place.” No one will see you. Except God.

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