I wrote this physical prayer for the last session of the Salvation Army's Frontline conference, January 2024, but have adapted it somewhat for general use. The movements help the congregation to engage more of themselves in prayer, but of course, be sensitive towards who you are leading and always provide a "get-out" for those who struggle with movement or for those who feel unsure or unsafe.

We went straight from this prayer into the song Listen to the words, which is based on the same passage and available on Resound Worship. Script below or downloadable to the right:

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I invite you to join me in a physical prayer. You are mind, spirit and body - a beautiful WHOLE, so we can pray using our bodies as well as our minds and words.

So let’s start by standing, if that’s possible for you. If you want to, you could take your shoes off to really feel the ground under your feet. Move your weight from toes to heal a couple of times and find the middle point. Roll your shoulders a couple of times and drop them down, further from your neck.

We’ll pray using John 20, when Jesus appears to his disciples after the resurrection. I invite you to close your fists and cross your arms in front of you if you can. Verse 19 reads:

On the evening of that first day o the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish people.

Many of us carry fears or put up barriers around ourselves, just like the disciples did. Christian life can make us feel vulnerable, and it’s easy to get caught up in worry or anxiety.  As you clench your fists and keep that barrier of your arms in front of you, spend a moment to bring before God those things that worry you, let God know what you fear at this time.


The story continues:

…Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ 

Release your arms, release your fists and relax your hands. Jesus says: “Peace be with you!”. The disciples were still in their locked room, we are still in the same circumstances. But Jesus says “Peace be with you!”

The text goes on:

After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Press your fingers into your hands to remind yourself of Jesus physical wounds. Scars that speak of victory over death and evil. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. What aspect of salvation are you thankful, even overjoyed about, today? Victory over death, freedom from the oppression of sin, rebuilt relationships with God and others, the grace of forgiveness, the presence of God in your life? 

As you bring your thankfulness and joy to God, stretch your arms out wide in praise.

Next the passage says:

Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’  And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’

Jesus breathed on them, and gave the Holy Spirit.

Imagine Jesus breathing on you, and take a big inhale.

Breathe in peace.

Breathe out fear.

Breathe in God’s presence with you.

Breathe out worry.

Breathe in, breathe out.