Prayer is a conversation with God, a conversation we did not begin. Before a word is on our tongues, he knows it completely (Ps 139:4). Whether we realize it or not, it is always God who starts the dialogue.
Thus prayer is telling God what we want and need, but it is more. Prayer is also listening to him, and it is in the listening that we see and feel his power. So before we are ready to speak God’s will back to him, we must ready ourselves to hear and recognize God’s will by listening.
Engaging the physical is one a way to cut through the white noise and the inner PA system to hear the One voice. This week in A Really Old-Fashioned Prayer Meeting, we’re working on hearing God by using Body Prayer.
Eighty percent of communication is nonverbal. Even the Spirit’s prayers for us are nonverbal (Rom 8:26–27). Furthermore, faith is mostly a right-brained activity in spite of our left-brained society, so it makes sense that full-bodied praying will require things like colored pencils and elliptical trainers.
Recall a time when something you did or felt physically changed your mind, messed with your emotions, and/or affected your sense of connection with God or others. Considering the impact, what are ways that you already harness the power of your body to influence the state of your spirit? How might you apply these to your personal or corporate prayer life?
The Cappadocian Fathers, particularly Gregory of Nyssa, grappled with the whole-being theology as far back as the fourth century. Gregory was the first Christian writer to associate the role of physical sacraments with Jesus’ incarnation. He said that receiving sacraments (Eucharist, baptism, and anointing with holy oil) continued the process of redemption.
Which of your regular activities might lend themselves to the single, repetitive motion that focuses your attention in body prayer? How might you adapt them so they become time spent with God?
- Choose an activity that you will dedicate to body prayer. (If you need more coloring pages to repeat the prayer activity we did on Wednesday night, print one out from here.)
- Find any equipment you need and a location where you will not be disturbed.
- Turn off your phone, social networking site, etc. Quiet yourself and invite God into your prayer.
- Limit yourself to a single activity as a means of stilling yourself to listen to God’s voice.
- Do not obsess with precision. Trusting the Lord to reveal what he wishes, let your thoughts roam.
- Set yourself a time limit and faithfully stop when it is up.
- Immediately, make a note to yourself of any specific patterns or directions your thoughts took.
- Offer your wandering, your notes, your ideas, your feelings to God.
- Give yourself permission to simply delight in spending time with God this way.
How Do You Know
How do you know you’ve heard God’s voice? People identify the following as confirmation of God’s leading.
repetition: They hear the same theme from several places or they receive the same verse from several people.
breakthrough: After tons of mulling, a new way to think about something, an insight, a sense of purpose or direction emerges.
convergence: Your own desires mirror what other people sense for you, plus the option to pursue is open and roadblocks are removed.
peace: Disturbance and upheaval around your concern or question cease. They are replaced by a sense of peace.
Scripture: Nothing in Scripture or established doctrines of Scripture stand against what you seem to hear.
fruit: You pursue what you’ve heard, testing as you go, and your actions bear fruit that glorifies God.
Memorize John 10:27–30. Illustrate and/or diagram these verses as a way to continue pondering their meaning and impact.
Choose a daily activity to commandeer or add an activity for body prayer.* Practice adding the physical dimension to prayer every day. If you need “quick” body prayer, see Sample the Prayer.
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.
Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
And we believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
And we believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
—The Nicene Creed
*Here’s one option