On Monday’s we have been drawing our prayers from “Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.”* These have given us a wonderful regular structured practice to start our weeks with. Today I came across this less structured possibility for us from this same source. It speaks to the wholeness of prayer and worship and brings to mind Paul’s words from Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, hold and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship.”
Whole Body Prayer
Worship is a physical act. Just as some folks see lifting their hands to God as a sign of worship, we also see lifting our hands out to a neighbour as an act of worship. When we “pass the peace” and give each other a hug or handshake, it is part of worship. In fact, if there is anyone we feel we cannot shake hands with, Scripture says that this stands in the way of worship, and we should get up from the altar and reconcile with our neighbour first. Homeless friends, who sometimes smell a little, have told us the only hugs they get during the week are in Mass on Sunday. It is a sad thing to hear, but thanks be to God that they get hugs on Sunday. And hopefully we have a church that is living a life of worship outside of Sunday, passing the peace on the streets and giving hugs away during the week, especially to those who smell a little. Prayer doesn’t need to be boring. Consider mixing things up, perhaps kneeling during confessional sins or lifting your hands as you give thanks for something. One way many Christians gesture during prayer is by making the “sign of the cross” using their right hand to touch the forehead, then the middle of the breast, then the left shoulder, and finally the right shoulder. As they do this, they say, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” It is a way that we can remember that we are to take up our own crosses. And it is a way we can remember that, as Paul said, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). As we cross ourselves, we pray that Christ will be in our minds and in our hearts, and will live in us.
(Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, p. 361-362)
Worship and prayer are much more than just “head” or “heart” exercises. They are an expression of our entire being and it is entirely appropriate that our bodies are a part of that expression. Obviously we aren’t as free to hug and shake hands right now, however there is an invitation for us in that. We are still God’s people living in this reality today, so how can we communicate that same love, grace and acceptance that we normally might through those actions in new ways now? How can we embody God’s love to others in this time when we all need those acts of love and the encouragement and life they bring more than ever?
May God’s blessing be upon you today, Dianne
* Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enuma Okoro, Published by Zondervan