Weekly Devotions for 3/14

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing. The LORD is just in all his ways and kind in all his doings. – Psalm 145:15-17 (NRSVUE)

How do you hold your hands when you pray? Do you place them together flat? Interlace your fingers? Open your hands wide with your palms up? There is no particular “correct” posture. Children are often taught to fold their hands for prayer, and many people retain that practice into adulthood. Doing this can be helpful for concentration, as it is easy to start fidgeting with our fingers and lose focus on our prayers. On the other hand (no pun intended!), it can also be a gesture of being closed off. The gestures we make can, in turn, have an effect on our attitudes. Our prayer can become too focused on ourselves rather than on receiving the goodness of God’s gift of love to us. For this reason, some people prefer hands outstretched or palms turned upwards in and open and receptive position. A receptive posture can create a receptive disposition.

Ultimately, prayer is about receiving: receiving the gift of faith given by the Holy Spirit, receiving the comforting reassurance of God’s presence, receiving an intimate sense of communion with God. No one posture is necessarily better than any other, but most people have a particular posture that better helps them open themselves to God. At the same time, too easily we can fall into holding ourselves in ways that limit our openness to engaging with God. It may be worth trying out posing in different ways while you pray to see how the various positions affect your receptivity to God. In particular, praying with outstretched and open hands may be new for you. Give it a try; see if you can imagine receiving God’s Spirit and God’s responses to your prayers in your empty hands.

The Psalmist in Psalm 145 reminds us that God’s hands are opened to us. God reaches out to us openly and gives us good gifts. All good things, from the sun and rain to the perpetual love of Christ, spring from God’s open hands. In prayer we are opened to receive these gifts with trust and thanksgiving. Whether we fold our hands or stretch them out, may we recognize God’s open hands and receive God’s blessing into our hands.