A silly title for a serious question...
We asked some friends one simple question:
"How do you involve your body in your prayer?
Prayer can be during Mass, the gym, Adoration, running, morning prayer, etc"
Some of the responses were:
“Sometimes, I close my eyes.
I need blinders on sometimes when I go to Mass. Because someone will come in and I immediately turn to look to see who is it, do I know this person. I then turn back, ok what was I thinking about…
I was at Mass this last week…And I figured maybe it would be a good exercise…I was a little uncomfortable but it also limited my visual distractions.”
“Nothing crazy like laying prostate…I mean prostrate!
Every time I start prayer, I have to start on my knees. It’s a humility thing. A lot of times I start prayer with reverence and thanksgiving; ‘thank You for being awesome’. In order for me to do that earnestly, I need to have a humble mindset. And so being on my knees is what draws me into that.
And then as prayer progresses for me, I try to turn into more of a dialogue. And it works a lot better for me to sit back, sit up, and look directly at the monstrance. It’s a much more relaxed. Alright Jesus, tell me what You need to tell me, or let’s have a discussion about this. And it works best for me being in a slightly more relaxed state, which is sitting.”
“I think kneeling is like a big deal for me, because it’s a position that you aren’t used to being in. I like sitting too but sitting and standing are things you do throughout the day. So being able to switch your body position helps change your mindset and focus”
“I show my reverence by kneeling and putting my hands together and being in a position I’m not particularly comfortable in, just shows okay I’m not God but You are. And helping prepare your mind to keep that mindset. Okay God, I’m here, I’m ready to be obedient, this is why I’m kneeling to You.”
"being in a position I’m not particularly comfortable in, just shows okay I’m not God but You are"
One of the beautiful aspects of Catholicism is how physical it is: Sacraments, vestments, rosary beads, statues, icons, even the so called Catholic Calisthenics during Mass.
I think this is a brilliance of God that we far too often overlook. When I asked the question of how you involve your body, it was almost hard for people to answer because they all too often forget that they can be reaching towards God with far more than just their mind.
Prayer should never just be this stretch of the mind, or else it is no different than the ‘om’ and ‘finding your center’ of yoga/Hinduism. Prayer has to be with your body and heart as well.
"Prayer should never just be this stretch of the mind, or else it is no different than the ‘om’ and ‘finding your center’ of yoga/Hinduism."
I think sometimes we have the mindset of sit still, be reverent, don’t make noise, stop breathing so loud. But in my opinion if all you do is reach to God with your head it’s way too easy to compartmentalize it and never take it outside the church/chapel, and you can only go so far with that.
I had a dear friend tell me about how he was going through a chunk of Scripture, and how he found himself slumped up against his fridge in his kitchen re-reading that chunk over and over. He changed his body position in order to better enter into that story, that moment, in order to enter in and understand and experience that story.
And I’m like, YES! This is what prayer should really be.
And finally, surrender.
There should be just as much surrender of your heart as your body. So, if you really do need to give everything to Him, put your hands up if you need to. Don’t be afraid to look a fool if God is asking you to.
Or a big thing I like to do now, is put my hands in that receiving position (like receiving Communion).
Sometimes I feel like it’s weird to do, because it’s not the normal folding your hands and it kind of draws attention to myself. But you know what? This isn’t for you guys, this is for me and Him.
Which goes back to point one, of involving your body in prayer. You want your heart to be receptive, then let your body be receptive too. Hold your hands out to catch Him.
"There should be just as much surrender of your heart as your body."
1. Get your body involved
2. Mirror your spiritual and physical lives
And to close in prayer…
Lord, thank you for being who You are and reminding us of who we are, and that we are not You. We come to You Lord with our needs, always as a Good Father, that’s who You are. Lord, we thank You for this time that we are able to discuss, to talk about You, to come closer to You, to seek You out in a very tangible way. And to understand our hearts and to bind them closer to Yours. Lord we ask for blessing of Your grace to help us with the challenges of the day and thank You for all that You have given us today.
We pray, Our Father…
In His strength,