Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 9 of Lent :: Open Hands

Then the LORD said,
“What is that in your hand?”

(Exodus 4:2)
In the Bible, true faith was always accompanied by demonstration and actions. One’s spirituality cannot be separated from one’s physicality.  As noted yesterday, worship was never merely words sung.  Prayer was always more than words expressed. Particular body parts and physiological movements became associated with various attitudes of the heart.  For instance, it is with our hands that we physically hold onto things. Hands are faculties for giving or receiving, extending or withholding.  Many early believers folded their hands during prayer—a physical statement that they would not “hold onto anything else” while praying. It was a way of saying to God, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done in my life.”
The following is a prayer exercise using both the body and heart. It can be done while standing, sitting or kneeling, whichever is most comfortable for you. Begin by placing your palms down. This is a symbol of your desire to give to God any concerns you have.
Inwardly, you may pray, “Lord, I give You my anger toward _____. I release my fear of _______ today. I surrender my anxiety over not having enough money to pay the bills this month. I release my frustration over trying to find a baby-sitter for tonight…”
Whatever it is that weighs on your mind or is a concern to you, just say, “palms down.”  Release it.  You may even feel a certain sense of release in your hands.  After several moments of surrender, turn your palms up as a symbol of your desire to receive from the Lord.  Perhaps you will pray silently: “Lord, I would like to receive Your divine love for ______, Your peace about the ________ today, Your patience, Your joy…”
Whatever you need, you say, “palms up.” Finally, spend the remaining moments in complete silence.  Do not ask for anything.  Allow the Lord to commune with you, to love you.[i]
Throughout your day—while sitting at a stoplight, on break at work, or resting in the evening—take a few minutes to physically pray by opening your palms/hands up before God.
This simple act can sometimes express submission in ways in which words fall short, “God, I surrender to You.  I choose to handle the things of this world with a loose grip and open hand.  I trust You with all that I am and ever hope to be…”

[i] Prayer exercise from Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual  Growth, 30-31.

No comments: