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Movement and Prayer

Today’s Reflection

GOD CALLS EACH OF US to joy. “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4), Paul says. I keep nearby when I pray a picture of Saint Francis who took Paul’s injunction quite literally. His feet are off the ground, his arms are extended to the sky as he jumps in freedom and joy. The picture portrays a man who worships with his body, who loves the creation, and who is not afraid to let the joy of the body show.

Receptivity, self-offering, gratitude, and joy—the four prayers I would embody.

I stood in my room and began to experiment with gesture and movement. What felt comfortable? What seemed natural? What gestures and movements could express my prayer, desire, and intention to live these four prayers?

The process of developing body-prayer movements was like trying on shoes—some looked nice but didn’t fit. Some gestures seemed like they would be perfect but felt awkward. I had to find the movements that were right for me—no one else could do this work.

Fortunately, it didn’t take long. I wove the four gestures into a kind of dance and then repeated them over and over, sometimes changing the order. They became the chords on which I improvised a song of prayer with my body. Though it felt strange, I knew this could become part of my prayer.

Find a place where you can be alone, and begin to experiment with gestures that express the shape of life and prayer you long for. Why did you choose the gestures you chose? What do they mean to you?

– L. Roger Owens
What We Need Is Here

From pages 80-81 of What We Need Is Here: Practicing the Heart of Christian Spirituality by L. Roger Owens. Copyright © 2015 by L. Roger Owens. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Experiment with gestures as you pray. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will pay you my vows,
those that my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.

Psalm 66:13-14, NRSV

This Week: pray for your enemies. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Isidore the Farmer (May 15).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA


{ 8 comments… add one }

  • Jill May 16, 2017, 3:36 am

    I have not given much conscious thought to this, but as I consider it now – I think that what I do with my hands is similar to what the author may be saying. Through different stages of my prayers – I find that my hands are in different positions…the traditional prayer form, fingers entwined; palms together and fingers upright against each other; hands open together forming a cup, hands open and separated, lying on my lap. May have to take notice of this a bit more.
    Grateful for the return of “windows open” weather. Fiddled around with some flowers I bought over the weekend, and took a walk after school. Grateful that the tennis season begins this evening. Two nights a week – team tennis. Makes for a hectic end to the school year, later nights than usual – but I do enjoy the competition.

  • robert moeller May 16, 2017, 6:39 am

    Part of me is intrigued by this and part of me doesn’t think it so important.
    My heart, spirit, and mind focused on God seem primary.

    Thankful for a long walk, saw a 1938 school house. Still has the bell in a small cupola over the the entryway. There’s sun this morning.

    More job applications went in and there’s an interview on Friday. Scouted a potential work place becoming more familiar with the area.

    While born near here, and visited now and then, there’s a lot I don’t know about this town and the neighboring one where Mom was born and grew up.
    Tomorrow at noon there’s a concert in the church downtown.

    Prayers for the US, our enemies, world peace, and all the UR family. The events of these days are tumultuous, but God is with us always.

    God’s peace be with you, thank you all for your prayers, concern, and posts.
    Like God you are near.

  • Gail May 16, 2017, 7:31 am

    “in him we live and move and have our being”. ..The four prayers above are interesting…Movement is more important now…the notion of staying seated all day, inside, is appalling…looking for excuses to walk around the office, outside to the mailbox…standing up when talking on the phone…parking far away from the door…the end result is a sense of well-being and productivity (or so I like to think) Grace and peace to all this day.

  • Julie May 16, 2017, 7:36 am

    I like to walk as I pray but have never considered formal movements and the thought is intriguing. Seems appropriate to pray with our bodies which God so wonderfuly made .. a form of rejoicing and thanking God for our bodies.
    Continued prayers for you Robert. You are very brave to start over in a new community.
    Blessings to all

  • Connie May 16, 2017, 7:43 am

    I often place both hands palm sides up to receive blessings and knowledge/understanding.

  • Andrea May 16, 2017, 9:10 am

    I have seen choreographed prayerful dancing at a church, not exactly the kind of dancing the reflection is about, which sounds more spontaneous and solitary. Both Psalms 149 and 150 have verses about praising God with dance.

    There is a lovely spring rain falling at the moment. During the night we had prolonged thunder and lightning, with large hail. I have some kind of bronchitis and it is so relaxing to hear the rain.

    My continued prayers for you, Robert. It sounds like you are embarking on a huge life change.

    I pray for my daughter, son-in-law and grandson. Illness, loss of sleep, stress in their household

    Wishing God’s blessings to all who visit UR today.

  • Mary Ng Shwu Ling May 16, 2017, 9:22 am

    Prayers for you, Andrea, your daughter and son in law.

    Blessings to everyone!

    • Andrea May 16, 2017, 10:44 am

      Thank you, Mary. God bless you.

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