I was on an island off the coast of Seattle. I was there for a directed three week retreat of silence and I was struggling with how to pray. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to pray or didn’t have time to pray. Rather, it was that I felt very disconnected between my body and spirit. I tried kneeling, sitting, standing, lying down prostrate and every other biblical prayer posture I could think of. However, none of these positions seemed to work well for very long.
But then one day I took a long walk and just started praying as I walked. I found a certain spiritual rhythm between my casual physical movements and my prayer to the Lord. I was no longer self-conscious of trying to please the Lord with my piety or spiritual appropriateness.
I also wasn’t bothered to pause in my praying to notice a bird or a flower. Actually those unplanned interruptions became part of my prayer and communion with the Creator. I also didn’t experience cramps or fatigue in my muscles and joints but was energized to pray more than I could in a more fixed position.
This should not have surprised me as my wife, Alice, and I walked and talked on almost a daily basis and looked forward to those times of conversation and communion. Then of course there is the story in Scripture of the two disciples walking to Emmaus and how they talked with the Lord along that famous road. Walking and praying do work together.
So although now I don’t have the extensive freedom of time that I did on that retreat, I look for opportunities for prayer walks and the chance for my body to facilitate my prayer life rather than frustrate it.
Are there prayer positions that frustate your prayer life, making you feel more self-conscious and less free in prayer?
Are there positions or modes of being physically that help you connect with God? How have they helped you?
Bob Fryling is Publisher of InterVarsity Press and has recently written The Leadership Ellipse: Shaping How You Lead by who You Are. (IVP)