16+ Ways to Pray without Saying a Word
We were given bodies for a reason, you know. God is Spirit, and we could very well have been created as formless spirits floating out in endless space. God had all creative power trembling in the vibration of the Word that spoke the world into existence, and God chose to design us with physical form. As Wuellner puts it in Prayer and Our Bodies, “We were intended to receive God’s full energizing nurture through all five senses.”
Chapter 5: Letting Our Bodies Pray
This is perhaps my favorite chapter in Wuellner’s book because of the way she describes prayer:
Prayer is easier than we thought. Prayer was always meant to be part of our everyday lives, part of our bodies, part of all our actions. It does not mean that we are to be solemn and unsmiling as we act sacramentally through our bodies. A sacrament, whether in the church or out of it, is meant to make us more fully human, not less. “The glory of God is the fully alive human being,” Iranaeus said in the second century. Yes, we are to respond to the body’s acts of worship with intentionality, awareness, deliberation, but also with pleasure and joy.
Throughout the chapter, she mentions various bodily acts that can be prayers:
- tasting food and eating slowly
- looking at color
- smelling a flower
- letting water run over our hands
- gently massaging our hands, feet, face, or neck
- taking a nature walk
- singing or playing a musical instrument
- lying on the ground outside
- participating in symbolic action with a trusted friend or group
- creating with clay, crayons, craft sets, etc.
- listening to music
Despite all the books I’ve read and classes I’ve taken, I still have so much to learn about prayer, and those lessons can come from my own body. We all perform so many of the actions on this list, often without even thinking about them. Yet our every activity can be a conversation with God if we want it to be.
Chapter 10: Daily Life in Prayer with Our Bodies
All it takes to move from living to praying is the choice to be aware of the connection between our bodies and our spirituality. This awareness is all it takes to close the gap between the body and the mind, the flesh and the spirit, the human being and God. Wuellner calls this closing of the gap a unity or marriage:
If we can remember our embodiment with awe and gratitude while driving on the freeway, cooking, washing, cleaning house, making love, preaching a sermon, reading a book, or talking with a friend, then we have entered into a unity with our bodies that has become a genuine marriage.
Wuellner follows with suggestions for bodily meditation at each of the following moments in a day:
- waking and rising
- eating and drinking
- recreation, exercise, sexual activity, sports, celebration
“Remembering our embodiment with awe and gratitude…”–what a beautiful expression of body theology.
I think we’ll continue our little tour through Wuellner’s book next week with some insights on sexuality, illness and disability, community, and creation. For today, choose just one item from one of these lists and in that action or moment of the day, “remember your embodiment with awe and gratitude,” and allow your body to pray and “receive God’s full energizing nurture.” It won’t take a minute, and you can do it without uttering a single word.