On January 6th, 2022, the Prayer Study class will continue our study of prayer with an investigation of Embodied Spirituality.
Psalm 63:1 reads: O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
“My soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you.” How down-to-earth the psalmist is; how human is his relationship with God. His physical and spiritual worlds seem so interchangeable they might well be one and the same.
He couldn’t pray and talk with God without mentioning and discussing his physical condition. When the psalmist writes, “Deliver me, O my God,” he means these words with both his body with his soul. It is like his body is treated as an equal partner with his heart and soul during prayer.
“Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you” Paul told the Corinthians. “God’s Spirit dwells in our bodies,” Paul added: “Therefore glorify God in your body.” So, including God’s holy temple - our bodies - in our prayers glorifies the One who created us – who created our bodies.
If you think about it … Christians and Jews in the Western world are surrounded by playing fields and fitness centers but when we step into the church or synagogue to enter prayer with the Divine, we mostly leave our bodies at the door.
In contrast, a Muslim who prays is constantly bowing and kneeling, touching his head to the floor, and moving his arms and the head to incline the heart. A Buddhist enters into a series of prostrations. A Hindu learns yoga in order to meditate with greater stillness in the body and focused awareness in the mind.
While Christians may have one of – if not the – highest theologies of the body among the religions of the world, they also have one of the lowest levels of embodied spiritual practice. We in the western world have tended to separate the body and spirit, saying that the body is bad and the spirit is good. As a result, we westerners tend to live “in our heads” and ignore our bodies when it comes to spirituality. We forget that Jesus was the Divine in a physical body.