Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Embodied Prayer

In memory of John Dowling, a beloved member of MBCC who died in December,
we as a worshipping community embodied prayer as we made a communal
mosaic cross. John was a fabulous artist and so this embodied prayer seemed
only appropriate as we remember him and are grateful for his life.
I'm an active person, so I have a hard time sitting still to pray.

Obeying God's command to "be still and know God," I do sit still occasionally and can sometimes successfully quiet myself enough to pray. Most of the time though, I prefer to pray in action - through movement.

I discovered what I call "embodied prayer" sometime last year while swimming. I started praying for someone as I swam a lap and then when I started a new lap I would pray for someone else. The rhythmic pace helped me move through my prayer. I find that as I give my body some methodical task (like free stroke), my mind is free to be still, to connect to God, to lift those I love in prayer.

Swimming has been the best prayer practice I've found, though I've also used running or walking as a means of embodied prayer before. Any type of individual exercise allows me to pray.

Another way I pray is by writing my prayers on large white boards and then erasing them. This seemingly simple practice reminds me to "let go and let God." As I write down names, details, worries, anxieties, fears... I acknowledge their presence in my mind and heart and then as I erase them, I physically give them over to God.

Connecting with God in prayer isn't always easy. We have to experiment to see which types of prayers work for us. Some people connect to God through music...playing an instrument or listening to music. Others use creative expressions of art...using a creative medium to express their thoughts and prayers.


  1. that's cool, i didnt think you can pray while performing activities like swimming! i've always prayed the traditional way with my hands folded, head bowed and eyes closed. been doing that since i was a kid. idk, just figured it's the polite and appropriate way to pray since that's how it's always done during church service and in hollywood movies/tv shows. i feel like if i dont fold hands/bow/close eyes, my prayer wouldnt get transmitted like a bad phone reception or dropped call or it would get rejected upon arrival since it wasnt done in the correct format. anyway good to know i can pray while multitasking with eyes wide open without having to fold hands/bow down, etc. cuz a few times i was running in the park and needed to pray about something and would quickly close my eyes or close one eye and fold my hands together while running and risked tripping and falling not to mention just looking funny to other runners. you learn something new every day. thanks for sharing, pastor dawn!

  2. btw, what do you think of your new blog redesign? don't be afraid to give me any constructive criticism now! ;)

  3. Paul! Thank you for your help with formatting and images! It looks SO MUCH BETTER!

  4. hi pastor dawn. i'm doing crunches with my ab roller while listening to music just now. i started thinking about some things that have been on my mind that's been bothering me lately so i started praying. do you think it's ok to pray with music on or is that disrespectful to God?