Praying with Your Hands

All weekend long, I was delighted to see my prayers translated into American Sign Language...

by - Posted on Sep 24, 2013

Prayer blogger Rick Hamlin and Paul Ogden in Fresno, California

This past week I was in Fresno, California (among several places), talking about prayer and 10 Prayers You Can’t Live Without, and I discovered a new way of praying, eyes open, hands doing the talking.

My host was the ebullient, talented, charming, prayerful Paul Ogden, professor of deaf studies at California State University, Fresno. Paul himself is deaf but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming an extraordinary communicator. He listens very carefully and cares deeply about people, and from meeting many of his former students, I had no doubt about the effectiveness of his teaching. “You have changed many lives,” one of his friends said. A naturally modest man, he demurred.

I arrived just in time for lunch with Paul and his wife, Anne, and a young woman who served as his interpreter in American Sign Language (ASL). We sat down at the table and I reached across to hold hands for grace. “Put your hand on my shoulder,” Paul said through the interpreter. I did, not quite sure why. Then he began to pray. With his hands, of course.

All weekend I was delighted to see members of the wonderfully welcoming deaf community of Fresno pray with their hands. And was thrilled to see my prayers translated into ASL. The interpreter did a wonderful job, as far as I could tell, of making “Amazing Grace” come alive in her hands.

In the book, I asked, “Are there really just ten prayers you can’t live without? Aren’t there more? I believe there are as many prayers as there are people in the world. God has made us all different, each of us unique. The sound I make when I cry out for help is going to be very different from the sound you make.”

As I saw in Fresno, that sound can be absolutely silent and extraordinarily communicative. God hears no matter what.

Photo: Rick and Paul Ogden in Fresno, California.

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