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.
Experiment with gestures as you pray. Share your thoughts.
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).
(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
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