The Hands that Pray

Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose
and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer. 

Mark 1:35

This Lent, we are studying the Hands of Christ and their activity in the world, to learn more about how we are called to use our created-in-the-image-of-God hands.

This week, as we look at Christ’s hands, we remember that they are hands that pray.

The type of prayer we witness Jesus engaged in here in the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark – prayer that occurred early in the morning – well before sunrise – in the dark – in solitude – is the kind of prayer that is meant to orient us as we embark upon our day.

The author Emily P. Freeman asked this orienting question in an episode of her podcast, the Next Right Thing, entitled “Take Off Your Crown”:
“Do I live in the queendom of Emily, or do I live in the Kingdom of God?”

She says, “that when it comes to my relationships, to my vocation, to the choices I make on the daily, if I fail to recognize all the ways I see myself as the queen of my own queendom, then I am responsible for my own success as well as my failure. I’m responsible for securing my own freedom, affection, and well-being.”  And the reality is those are not things we are meant to be responsible for, because they are impossible for us – when we are in charge – when we are operating as queens and kings of our own realms, we will work ourselves to death trying to earn and secure our place in the world. Emily names that we have to take off our own crowns – and take our place in the realm of God – to rest in God’s love and grace for us – to let it be the foundation from which we step into our lives each and every day.

I have learned the hard way and the long way, that it is essential for me to begin my days, in the dark, before anyone else in my house has awakened, in a quiet place, in prayer before my God.  It is a habit, a routine, I have cultivated that orients me and grounds me at the beginning of my days.  It is time during which I have learned, been invited, to take off my crown, to relinquish all attempts to achieve or earn my place in the world, and instead rest in the place that was created for me in it, in and through the work of Christ’s hands.  

In her podcast, Emily shared these words gifted to her by a teacher that have shaped her life and heart. They are words that have begun to shape mine as well, as I turn to them each morning in prayer.

I am the one in whom Christ dwells and delights.
I live in the strong and unshakeable Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom is not in trouble, and neither am I.

Our hands will do all kinds of work in the midst of a day, a week – that work will be more measured, more meaningful, more purposeful, if those hands of ours are also hands that pray. For when our hands pray, they are reminded that no matter what they will face, they are also held – we and all the world are held in the capable and loving hands of our God. For we are the ones in whom Christ dwells and delights. We live in the strong and unshakeable Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is not in trouble, and neither are we.


To close, I will share with you a prayer Emily also shared with her listeners from Father Thomas Keating – it is a prayer to begin the day taking your place as a beloved at home in the Realm of God.

Welcome, Holy Spirit.

I welcome everything that comes to me today because I know it’s for my good.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, situations, and conditions.

I let go of my agenda for affection and approval by receiving my belovedness. Welcome, Holy Spirit.

I let go of my agenda for safety and security by resting in your abundance. Welcome, Holy Spirit.

I let go of my agenda for power and control by surrendering to your grip on my life. Welcome, Holy Spirit.

I let go of my desire to change anyone or anything or even myself.
I open to your presence and action within me today.

Amen.

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