Praying with Our Hands: 21 Practices of Embodied Prayer from the World's Spiritual Traditions

Overview

A spiritual guidebook for bringing prayer into our bodies

The power of words is nowhere more evident than when we use them to pray, but prayer is also the place where we most often come up against the limitations of words. In this intriguing book of reflections and accompanying photographs, we see how our bodies, in particular our hands, can give meaning to our prayers in a way that words alone cannot.

Here are twenty-one simple ways of using ...

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Praying with Our Hands: 21 Practices of Embodied Prayer from the World's Spiritual Traditions

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Overview

A spiritual guidebook for bringing prayer into our bodies

The power of words is nowhere more evident than when we use them to pray, but prayer is also the place where we most often come up against the limitations of words. In this intriguing book of reflections and accompanying photographs, we see how our bodies, in particular our hands, can give meaning to our prayers in a way that words alone cannot.

Here are twenty-one simple ways of using our hands to speak to God, presented in word and image. These spiritual practices are from a broad range of religious traditions—from Anglican to Sufi, from Buddhist to Shaker. Some may be familiar, some new; all demonstrate the universal importance people of all faith traditions have given to embodied prayer. They teach us to experience the unique spiritual enrichment that can be found when we pray with our hands.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel spoke of praying with his feet during civil rights marches. Sweeney (Who Is My God?) agrees that we don't pray just with words, but with our bodies, particularly our hands. In this brief, meditative book, short essays and stunning black-and-white photographs show off nearly two dozen prayers people perform with their hands. The Shakers knew that handiwork was prayer (photographer Jennifer Wilson provides a shot of gnarled hands weaving a basket). Jewish women light two candles to welcome in the Sabbath, while many Christians receive the Eucharist with their hands. Other images depict worshipers clasping hands before saying table grace or "laying on hands" during prayers for healing. Sweeney shows that we use our hands to break bread (whether at the communion table or the picnic table), touch icons, count prayers on rosaries or wash one another's feet. With hands we make the sign of the cross, sprinkle holy water, pass the peace and hold hands. The message of this book--that prayer happens in our bodies, not just in our minds or on our lips--is instructive. But more than instructive, the book is inspiring. It will make readers want to roll out their prayer mats, kneel or twist into the lotus position--and get praying. (Jan.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This is a kind of picture-book for the spiritually inclined but no less valuable for that. A host of beautiful photographs highlights many attitudes of worship and prayerfulness--the mudra, the breaking of bread, the passing of the peace, touching icons--all with the simple but persuasive goal of bringing worship and prayer into the body. As the final chapter states: "Embodied prayer is an expression of who we really are." The photographs alone are worth the price of admission, and the graceful texts and reflections surrounding them make this little volume doubly worthwhile. Highly recommended. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781893361164
  • Publisher: Skylight Paths Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/1/2000
  • Series: SkyLight Lives Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 8.05 (w) x 8.03 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Jon M. Sweeney is an author and editor recognized for his ability to communicate religious ideas and history in uncomplicated language. He is also the author of The St. Francis Prayer Book and editor of The Road to Assisi: The Essential Biography of St. Francis, a Literary Guild, Crossings, and History Book Club selection. He was the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Skylight Paths Publishing for several years before joining Paraclete Press as associate publisher. He lives in Vermont with his wife and their two children.

Jennifer J. Wilson is a documentary photographer working in the Boston area, capturing images of people where they worship and where they live. Her work has appeared in the First Expressions show in Boston and in other exhibits.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2000

    What a moving book!

    I received this beautiful book as a gift from a close friend, someone who knew that I was ambivalent about prayer: what it means, why should we bother to do it, does it relate to 'real life'. It completely changed my perspective. Its moving descriptions of how we can pray with our bodies, accompanied by the gorgeous black and white photographs have helped me as a spiritual seeker. Thanks!

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