Twister, a Swimming Pool, and Prayer


Put your hand here, balance there, take one foot into the air…

One of the profoundly honest things that I encountered in “Do Your Om Thing” is the concept of physical prayer. When you twist into a pretzel, there is something of prayer into it. That feeling of loose limberness after the stretching exercises (of an appropriate skill level) is prayer too.

But for some reason there isn’t a lot of physicality in modern evangelical Christian prayer. The mainline churches (Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran…) have a little more genuflection, and catholics love to bow. But frankly these leave out aspects of the character of God, it’s all reverence and humility and awe – very little mirth or resolve or ambition or playfulness or creativity.

There are times in my life where laying prostrate on my hands and knees aided my heart in prayer – aided my head in prayer – by putting my body in the position of humility that it needed and continues to need.

But some prayers are prayers before study. Thomas Aquinas has a great one.

Some prayers are prayers to begin the day. St. Patrick has my favorite.

Some prayers give us the resolve, the ambition to love more and better. St. Francis has ambition pouring out of his ears in his prayer.

Of all of these, I don’t know what the right position is, and maybe I’ll just have to try a hundred to figure it out. Before study maybe a nice lotus, before I begin the day maybe a warrior pose of some kind, before a prayer for resolve to be more loving – something with open arms or a one legged pose of some kind.

It isn’t that I want to create a Christian yoga – that’s pretty easy. It’s that I truly want my body to be a part of me oriented in love of God. More than that, I want to play twister to pray as well as to kneel at the rails before the altar of God. Taking my mark before a sprint, before a 5 k, or a half marathon – I want to be an act of prayer. When I get up on the blocks at a pool to dive in and give it my all, I want to have it be an act of prayer.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to worship some goddess of victory… Although she does make comfortable clothes and that swoosh is darn cool looking. But that’s no true god.

What I want is to ask for the God of all creation to teach me gently who he is, through my neighbors, through my enemies, through the church, through the world around me, through rocks, birds, trees, things, through the OT, the NT, the Apocrypha, and through my body. I want to ask for God to teach me about who He is through the water that I swim in, the air that I breath, the ground that I run on, the handles of my bike, and the water I accidentally breath.

That is what I want, I want my kneeling rails to look more like lap lanes.


About Sean Smith

Husband, Father, Pastor, Swimmer, Writer, Reader, and attempted Adventurer!
This entry was posted in Church, Fitness, Non-Fiction in Review, Practices of Faith, Theology and Philosophy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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