Friday, December 10, 2010

BodyPrayer @pagitt @randomhouse

This post is part of my series on prayer booksThis was one book in the series I purchased and did not receive a complimentary review copy.

BodyPrayer was one of the first books I purchased by Doug Pagitt, and I love it. He is currently posting excerpts from the book on his blog, so that's a great way to get a free introduction to the book. He is also offering a special discount on several of his books, including BodyPrayer.

This small hardcover book is also written by Kathryn Prill and illustrated by Colleen Shealer Olson (when one of the authors is well-known, others get overlooked, so I don't want to overlook them! :) ). The size makes it very user-friendly, as it is quite mobile. One of the practical difficulties is that with it being a hardcover, it doesn't always stay open on its own. So if you're trying to do a prayer posture while reading, it can be a challenge! :)

As indicated by the title, a major focus of this prayer book is not as much on contemplative prayers or meditations (although short ones are included in it), but rather including our bodies in our prayers. As the authors state, so often we forget about our bodies when engaging in prayer and with our spiritualities. As I often discuss on this blog, an Incarnational approach, recognizing the humanity of our spirituality, is very important. This is one of the few prayer books that is centrally Incarnational, which I appreciate.

The authors note that including the body in prayer actually has a long history in Christianity, although we often forget about it in Western Christianity. They offer several suggested prayer postures for various themes and events. One of the things I particularly appreciate is that they explicitly state in the introduction that these are not meant to be formulaic or perfect solutions to prayer. Rather, they are suggestions, essentially prompts for us to engage in prayer in deeper, more holistic ways. I think just approaching prayer slightly differently like this can be particularly powerful.

This book has helped me remember to pay attention to my body during times of prayer and make sure that I posture myself in a way that is most meaningful during that particular prayer. I also used it a couple of years ago during a spiritual formation presentation at my church to help people engage more holistically. There was some initial awkwardness, but people generally had a positive reaction to it. So this book can definitely be used both individually and in a group.

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