This 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.
Poetry, both writing and reading, is a wonderfully creative avenue of prayer.
On a beautiful day this past summer, I lay in the hammock behind our lake cabin. As I lay there, held between these two magnificent white pines, I felt held by both the strong, masculine arms of God AND the gentle, feminine arms of God. My poem of prayer featured on ALTARWORK expresses the prayer that developed as I let myself be held by Father-Mother God.
Hebrew: Mizbeach מִזְבֵּ֫חַ
An altar or place of sacrifice
In the Old Testament, agreements were sometimes ratified through the building of altars.
Throughout scripture we find the people of God creating sacred spaces, from piles of rocks to a Tabernacle and a Temple. And they all have one thing in common—they are places where people encounter God. The altars were built to serve as a remembrance of their encounter with God and his faithfulness in their lives. Altars were built by Noah (Gen 8:20); Abraham at Shechem, Hebron, Moriah and Bethel (which means: house of God) (Gen 12:7-8, 13:18, 22:9); Isaac (Gen 26:25); Jacob at Shechem and Bethel (Gen 33:20, 35:7); Moses (Ex 17:15, 24:4); Joshua (Josh 8:30, 24:25-27); Samuel (I Sam 7:12) and many others. As you study these scriptures, note the encounter with God that each person had.
Two noteworthy stories:
1) When the Israelites crossed the River Jordan, each tribe was instructed to take one stone from the river bed and they used those stones to create an altar to the Lord. Joshua also created an altar in the river bed itself:
So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” Continue reading