Postures In Prayer
A Prayer Experience from Spiritual Life Development
“Prayer is far more than words …
our bodies can help us engage our
total being in fellowship with God.”
—Major Lauren Hodgson, Postures In Prayer
“How shall I pray?
Are tears prayers, Lord?
Are screams prayers,
Can trembling hands be lifted to you,
or clenched fists
or the cold sweat that trickles down my back
or the cramps that knot my stomach?
Will you accept my prayers, Lord,
my real prayers,
rooted in the muck and mud and rock of my life,
and not just my pretty cut-flower, gracefully arranged
bouquet of words?
Will you accept me, Lord,
as I really am,
messed up mixture of glory and grime?
Lord, help me!
Help me to trust that you do accept me as I am …”
—Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace
We are familiar with praying in our pews and at the altar. You may pray in the car (depending on where you live, you may pray there more frequently than other people). You probably pray before meals or before you go to bed. Maybe you talk to God in the shower. Wherever we find that time, we usually find ourselves making the most of it by combining prayer with other activities or because doing so seems easier. Setting apart a dedicated prayer time, for our minds and for our bodies, might be a new experience.
With that in mind, we’d love to share a new Spiritual Life Development resource with you. Postures in Prayer is a “prayer walk” based on various physical aspects of prayer and was developed by Major Lauren Hodgson after significant scriptural and historical research. You can find the entire Postures In Prayer resource at http://saconnects.org/postures-a-prayer-walk.
As you read through it, you may find that you are familiar with one or more of the Postures and their scriptural roots. We’d invite you to give some time and thought to each of them. You can go through all of them meaningfully in less than an hour. Or perhaps you’ll want to focus on one posture every day for a week and then move to the next one. Either way, we think you’ll find the Postures to be opportunities to hear from God in new ways.
In the introduction, Major Hodgson writes, “This time of prayer is to help you engage all that God has created—your spirit, soul, and body. If you are open to some biblically–supported postures, these simple changes may bring a deeper awareness of and intimacy with the Lord. While body position is not going to be a ‘magic bullet’ to deeper communication with the Lord, if you simply open yourself up to the possibilities presented through the Scripture, your prayer life can be transformed.”
We’ve included here the first station of Postures In Prayer.
STATION 1. Standing—eyes open, looking up, hands uplifted with palms up.
Standing for prayer with hands outstretched was an original posture when communing with God from earliest biblical recordings. It is called the Orans Position, from the Latin word for praying. When the worshipper prays in this position there is an acknowledgement that God is superior. We stand in respect before the Almighty. We relinquish our control and wait to hear the Lord’s agenda. We physically open ourselves to His leading. Standing with hands lifted and palms up is a symbol of total abandon to God.
This posture is for thanksgiving, praise, blessing, benedictions, and general prayers. This is still the normal position for prayers in eastern churches and in Jewish synagogues, and it is still used in the western church, particularly for but not exclusive to the blessing of the Eucharist.
- “….he (Jesus) took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus….they saw his glory and the two men standing
him.” (Luke 9:28-32)
- “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed.” (John 17:1a)
- “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer…” (1 Timothy 2:8a)
- Stand with feet about a shoulder’s width apart to bring optimum balance. Lift your head and eyes upward as a sign of receptivity and expectation. Lift your hands upward with your palms open as a symbol of surrender to the majesty and omniscience of God.
- Your prayers of praise are to recognize the attributes of God (save your thanks for when you are recounting His blessings). Praise Him for His purity, righteousness, justice, goodness, holiness, compassion … What else comes to mind?
- Don’t rush. If you sense reluctance or awkwardness, remain in the position until you can envision being in the heavenly throne room totally abandoned to praising the Lord—“the only proper object of religious worship.” (SA Doctrine #1).
- What occupied your mind as you took on this posture?
- Did your body’s position help the purpose for which you were praying?
- What character of God most occupied your mind as you praised Him?
- How does your response to this attribute relate to your life right now?
God Almighty, as I leave this stance of praise,› may the attitude of adoration linger in my heart and mind throughout this day. Amen.