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Sensible Prayer­—Touch

Using our senses to learn about and experience God

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By on September 1, 2023

This is the first of a series of articles exploring the use of our senses in connecting with God.

If we restrict our understanding and the practice of prayer as being an activity only of the head, it can be likened to a bird trying to fly with one wing. We would be missing the richness of the use of the senses that God has given us. To “sense” something is to understand and experience life, gaining knowledge and achieving our potential. As we do with the physical world around in touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, and hearing, so, too, we can use our senses to learn about, and experience. God.

In this article we explore the use of our sense of touch and prayer.

There are several ways of using the sense of touch in prayer, and most often we are inclined to our hands. Often people will hold on to a small cross, or other small smooth object when they pray. We can also hold a Bible in our hands, either open at a particular scripture passage, or just closed resting in our hands, to connect to the Divine Presence. It is a way of focusing on God and bringing Jesus into the particular time and space of the prayer.

For centuries, people have used prayer beads as an aid to prayer. The action of feeling the beads and moving from one bead to another provides an internal rhythm. Feeling the shape, the texture, the size of the beads, and the spaces around them relaxes and helps focus our attention, which then brings us into greater silence and into contemplation, before God. There is an Anglican Rosary (pictured here) that is a blending of the Marian (Roman Catholic) Rosary and the Orthodox Jesus Prayer Rope.

rosary with cross
The Anglican rosary

Our sense of touch is not restricted to our hands. Our sense of touch extends to all parts of our body. Those in need of healing of body mind and/or spirit often find the comfort of God’s presence using a prayer shawl, which has been knitted by hand, blessed by a priest, and given to them with a prayer.

We are encouraged to feel God in everything we touch.

Author

  • Paul Dumbrille

    Paul Dumbrille is the diocesan Anglican Fellowship of Prayer representative.

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