Prayer That Bridges Body, Mind, and Spirit
For the Christian community, December means a celebration of the incarnational or “in-fleshed” nature of our faith. God came to us in the human flesh of Jesus. This reveals to us that our bodies are sacred vessels for Spirit. This is a joyful message that we can embrace in our prayer lives! In light of that, let’s continue to look at more ways to pray which unite our physical, mental, and spiritual layers of being. The first is writing our prayers. The second Is praying with the senses.
As we write our prayers, the act of connecting our inner workings with a physical activity serves to literally pour out stress and worry like a stream that runs from our spirits, into the reservoir of our brains, out through our limbs, and onto the paper. It is a subtle, yet powerful practice that gives voice to our supplications and provides a written record of how God has moved in our lives. The ACTS Model is based somewhat on the format of The Lord’s Prayer. You can certainly just lift up your thoughts to God with it, but I have found that writing also serves well. Over time, you may find yourself writing more spontaneous, freeform prayers. This is a good place to start.
A is for Adoration…Write some thoughts in praise of your Creator.
C is for Confession…Address something on your heart for which you feel you need forgiveness. Remember that saying, “Confession is good for the soul?” It is true. You can come as you are. Ask questions, express doubts, be a cynic. God can handle it.
T is for Thanksgiving…Jot down some things for which you are thankful. As many as you can!
S is for Supplication…This is where you make good on what Jesus tells us to do: Ask, Seek and Knock! What do you need? Do you want to lift up someone for healing? Are you anxious? St Paul tells us to “Cast our anxieties upon God” because He cares for us. Pour out your heart here.
All of that being said, here is a question I have heard often. “What if someone reads my prayers??” It is perfectly okay to store your journal in a secret place. It is also fine to write and burn or tear out the prayers, except that you will not be able to go back and enjoy seeing what God has done. I have a closet full of journals. My daughter once said, “You know mom, after you die we are going to tear into those journals!” My response was, “Great! I’ll be dead!! Who cares??” But seriously, it is such a healing practice. I encourage you to take the plunge. It doesn’t have to be grammatically correct. Neither does your penmanship have to be perfect. It may look like that of a serial killer, which mine has on occasion.
Another mind, body, and spirit approach to prayer is Praying with the Senses. This is a meditative prayer of thanksgiving for the senses and involves mindfully eating or drinking for the sole purpose of acknowledging our senses and giving thanks to God for them. Notice the connection between Mind, Spirit, and Body. Use a wrapped piece of chocolate or another yummy candy, or perhaps a cup of tea. Here are the steps for this gratitude meditation: Set the food or drink in front of you… don’t open the candy yet!!
1)Look: Notice the shape, color, size…the physical characteristics of the food or the cup
2)Feel: The texture of the wrapper or cup. The contour, temperature, hardness, or softness. Perhaps the warmth while pouring the tea into the cup.
3)Listen: Open it. Listen to the wrapper coming apart or tea pouring.
4)Smell: Give it a long, luxurious sniff.
5)Taste: Eat or drink slowly. Linger and Savor.
6)Sit quietly and give thanks. Breathe. Rest.
So many ways to connect with God. Our bodies are amazing vehicles for communicating with and expressing Spirit.
In this season, we are surrounded by lights, colors, music, and gifts, which are meant to reflect the Spirit in tangible ways. How will this perspective affect what you see, hear, taste, smell, and feel in this season?