I recall being a tiny little Sunday school student, standing on the line of masking tape on the carpeted kids worship room. We sang songs with hand motions. We stomped to create the sounds of the walls of Jericho “a-tumbling down.” I remember being told, “You can’t worship the God of the Universe with you hands in your pockets.” While I disagree with this statement and wish that my children’s worship leader would have been a bit more precise in her language, I can hear something in that statement that makes sense.
The incarnation is evidence of the importance of the body. My physical body is not only important because Jesus physical body was important, but because an incarnate God is evidence that bodies are essential in our understandings of the self. My metaphysical understanding is not sophisticated enough to delineate nuances of our physical and non-physical nature using words, but I have noticed a steady and surprising shift in my awareness of my body in prayer.
Simply put, I can’t keep my hands in my pockets. There was a time when lifting my hands was necessary to open my heart. Now, even standing during a hymn can often times be distracting. To present my heart thoroughly, I must sit or kneel. Sometimes singing is distracting. To open my mouth and make a sound would be to pretend that God was not the tiniest whisper away, and if I were to sing, I might miss Him. When I sit on my couch for morning prayers, sometimes I feel in intense inclination to completely fall on my face. I can feel in my bones that it would be outright betrayal of God and myself to resist.
My physical body cannot be separated from prayer. There are times in life when it is simply necessary to break a bottle of perfume on the saviors feet. There is no communion apart from the communion of bodies (before your protest, consider the implications of neurology), and while I can, most certainly, worship God with my hand in my pockets, there may (and also may not) be a more authentic posture in which to come before Him. We have been redeemed in mind, body, and spirit. Let us respond accordingly.