Embodied Prayer

Last month we embarked on an exploration of prayer, which in simplest form, is speaking and listening to a Higher Power. In this limited space, let’s touch on some ideas that you may want to explore in more depth. In the Christian tradition, we speak of the layers of the human “being” as referred to by Jesus as 1)heart, or the deepest inner being, 2)soul, or the emotions and personality, 3) mind: our thoughts and 4)strength: our physical body and, perhaps, our sense of agency and determination.

I want to begin our adventure with the outermost layers of our being. How can we use our bodies to communicate with God? Something to keep in mind is that the intention with which we approach any form of prayer is most important. With that mindset, we can turn any task into an offering of prayer. Recall that our layers of being communicate. Think about how it feels to talk with your hands or maybe just observe one who does. Hand motions emphasize what is going on in our hearts, minds, and emotions. A simple upturn of your palms can seal a prayer of receiving or offering. The classic hand posture of palms together at the chest or heart space evokes a sense of reverence, respect, or centeredness. Just for fun, STOP. Pay attention to your thoughts and inner workings. Turn your palms upward. How does it feel? Place palms together at your heart, drawing your awareness to the sensation of palms touching and gathering your energy inward. Take a couple of easy breaths. What prayer might that motion bring to life? Consider other body positions, recognized as reverential by many religions, such as bowing our heads, raising our arms, kneeling, or dancing. We can turn a daily walk into a powerful prayer if we turn our hearts toward God. I am a Christ-centered yoga instructor. In our classes, we use breathing, moving, sacred scripture, and silence as vehicles for prayer. How does this concept resonate with you?

Another form of embodied prayer is the use of prayer beads. Many traditions use beads for prayer. Holding beads while praying can provide focus. As we feel the beads move through our fingers, resting on each one as an opportunity to pray through scripture, we pray for others or pray a traditional prayer, such as the rosary. As we simply hold them quietly, they become a reminder of God’s loving presence. I like to recall the woman who was healed by holding the hem of Jesus’ garment. Imagining holding the beads as holding onto Jesus can bring solace as a reminder of God’s closeness.

We have barely touched the surface of this topic. Our Creator has blessed us with bodies that are tools for connecting with Loving Presence within our hearts, souls, and minds. I encourage you to remain open to how God might be communicating with you through movement and your senses. What you see, feel, hear, touch and smell can bring you closer to an awareness of God’s presence.


You are welcome to email me for resources for embodied prayer.