EMBODIED :: Postures of Prayer & Praise, Day 3, Palms Up

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Postures of Prayer & Praise are
“outer representations of an inner reality”

Exploring: Hands Extended Palms up – Receiving

Ezra 9:5-6 – Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the LORD my God and prayed: “O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens.”

Ezra is asking for grace and mercy from God. Verse 5a indicates that he is in mourning because of his sin. As we seek forgiveness, we receive forgiveness from God. With palms open before the Lord, we can fully expect to receive what God so lavishly pours out upon his people. We can also receive from others by allowing them to be the hands and feet of Christ when we are in need.

I Peter 5:7 – Cast all your cares upon him because he cares for you.

When someone offers us a gift, we open our palms and extend our hands in order to receive the gift they offer. We can’t receive a gift with clenched hands—we must open in order to receive. As we cast our cares upon Jesus, we empty our hands so they are open to receive strength out of the glorious riches by the power of the Holy Spirit (Eph 3:16).

Psalm 141:2 – May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

As we lay (set) down those things that God has asked us to give up, it frees our hands to lift them up again in worship—hands that are empty. Not worshiping because of what He’s done, but simply because He is worthy of our praise. As we let go, we are free to worship without worldly hindrance.

Putting It Into Practice 

Palms upThis posture can be done standing, seated or kneeling. With palms up, the backs of the hands can rest on your legs, lap, the floor, or a table in front of you. In this picture, my friend Krystal is kneeling before God. What a beautiful picture—emptying her hands of her burdens, she finds rest in the peace of his presence. Continue reading

EMBODIED :: Postures of Prayer & Praise, Day 2, Palms Down

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Postures of Prayer & Praise are
“outer representations of an inner reality”

Exploring: Hands Extended, Palms Down – Blessing

Leviticus 9:22-23 – Then Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them. And having sacrificed the sin offering, the burnt offering and the fellowship offering, he stepped down. Moses and Aaron then went into the Tent of Meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people.

As God gives to us, we give to others—we extend our hands to give to and to bless others. As Moses and Aaron blessed the people, the glory of the Lord appeared—as we bless others, we reveal the glory of God through the generosity of our actions. We are the hands and feet of Christ.

Luke 24: 50-53 – When Jesus had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his Sacred Hearthands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

As the resurrected Jesus ascended to heaven, where he was seated at the right hand of the Father to rule and reign over heaven and earth, he extended hands of blessings to his followers to bless them. This blessing brought them great joy—joy that kept them continually in the presence of God. Continue reading

EMBODIED :: Postures of Prayer & Praise, Day 1, Hands Raised

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Postures of Prayer & Praise are
“outer representations of an inner reality”

Exploring: Hands Raised in Praise, Prayer & Petition

I Kings 8:22-23 – Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven and said: “O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.”

Solomon is 1st giving words of praise to God; 2nd witnessing in front of everyone; and 3rd remembering God’s covenant of love.

I Timothy 2:8 – Therefore I want people everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.

Here we find hands raised in prayer, and note that it is to be without anger or dispute in your heart.

Psalm 28:1-2 – I pray to you, O Lord, my rock. Do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you are silent, I might as well give up and die. Listen to my prayer for mercy as I cry out to you for help, as I lift my hands towards your holy sanctuary.

In this prayer, the writer David is petitioning God to hear his prayer with arms reaching. He cries out to God, lifting his hands towards God in heaven.

Putting It Into Practice

hands upThis posture can be done standing, seated or kneeling. I like to imagine I am a young child, reaching my arms up to my Father God. As you experiment with lifting hands towards God today, start by letting go of any anger you have towards another. Second, remember scripture says your hands are holy. Next, think about literally lifting your praise towards him, and finally, lift your prayer of petition (request) before him. Might I suggest using Chris Tomlin’s song I Lift My Hands as you do: Continue reading

Moving Creatively Through Lent

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Yesterday I posted information on a new series called EMBODIED that starts this Friday, February 16th and goes through Good Friday. Embodied is a 7 week-long exploration of postures of praise & prayer to help us move mindfully through the Lenten season. I will be posting one posture each week (on Friday) to take us through the season of Lent.

In addition, to further help us move through Lent creatively, I will also be posting from the previously featured  “7” Virtual Art-Walk series each week on Wednesdays throughout Lent, as well as reflections from our church’s Lenten sermon series on Monday of each week. The 7 Virtual Art-Walk includes the artwork of Matt Durbin, the poetry of Sarah Wells, and music that all focus on the last 7 words of Christ spoken from the cross. And our church (5 Stones Community Church) will be working with passages throughout Ephesians to help us prayerfully remember and reflect on Jesus during this season. Continue reading

EMBODIED :: Postures of Prayer & Praise

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Postures of Prayer & Praise are
“outer representations of an inner reality”

jodythomae.com

In Luke 10, when the lawyer stood up to put Jesus to the test, he asked him how to inherit eternal life. Like a learned rabbi, Jesus turned the question back to the lawyer, who answered:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus confirmed his answer as true, with a command and a promise: “Do this and you will live.”

When I teach on embodied prayer and worshiping with your whole self (including the often-excluded body), I am often asked where to begin. “EMBODIED” — a 7 day exploration of postures of prayer and praise — is designed as a starting (or restarting point) for those wanting to engage their bodies in prayer and worship.

  • Perhaps you have never used your body to pray or worship?
  • Or perhaps you’ve danced like David before the Lord and are looking for a new way to explore the movement of worship that flows freely from your sinew and bones?
  • Or perhaps you’re looking for an embodied way to spend an intentional week of prayer and worship before the Lord?

Whatever your reason, I’m glad you’re here. Continue reading

Returning to Center: an Embodied Prayer

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embpryretThis is an embodied prayer I created for the Art of Spiritual Direction retreats at which I teach. It is based on the Lakota Native American Four Directions Prayer.

Participants stand in a circle, facing center, where a large cross is placed. You can also Create a Sacred Space like the one pictured at right and use that as your central focal point.

Featured above is a picture from a YogaFaith training where a beautiful pool of water was our focal point. Serendipitously, we ended up with our hands on both of our neighbors shoulders (at the part of the prayer where we prayer for the person on our left and right). It became a powerful symbolic action of unity and solidarity of purpose.

Returning to Center: Embodied Scripture Prayer

Facing Center, we look to Christ Our Center and read from Luke 4: 

Jesus unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me (the Messiah),
Because He has anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to announce release (pardon, forgiveness) to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed (downtrodden, bruised, crushed by tragedy),
to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord [the day when salvation and the favor of God abound greatly].”

Then He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all those in the synagogue were attentively fixed on Him.

Continue reading

Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #253 — Heart of Courage

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Our last post of 2015!

 

Let me leave you with this message of courage as you walk the path God has placed before you for the year ahead.

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
    which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother marveled at what Simeon said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” ~ Lk 2:29-35

Imagine hearing this blessing over your child and then those very last words. Just as Simeon is pouring out this wonderful worship of the infant Christ, he ends with this warning to Mary. Women of Ancient Israel longed to give birth to the promised Messiah, the One who would bring hope, healing and restoration to their nation. Yet few would understand the cost of this “gift.”

What gift has God entrusted to you? How will you work with God to bring it to fulfillment in your life? Will you press forward even when the road ahead gets tough? Even when your soul is pierced? Will you still say yes? Continue reading