devozine

For Youth Workers Post

Gotta’ Dance

Dixon Kinser

“In the Habit” session for devozine meditations for April 1–7, 2013.

 

MAKING THE CONNECTION

“I’ve been champing at the bit to put together this lesson ever since I began writing for devozine. The theme “Gotta Dance” asks the question, Is there room in Christian worship for movement? And the answer is “Yes!” Christians have prayed and worshiped with their bodies leading the way (sitting, standing, kneeling) for thousands of years. This lesson is designed to help you and the youth and adults in your group to participate in this tradition and perhaps to contribute to it a bit. My prayer is that this session will bring you blessing in the same way it has blessed me.” —Peace, Dixon

 

MEET THE WRITER

devozine Dixon Kinser


Dixon Kinser
is a husband, father, author, speaker, musician, amateur filmmaker, and Episcopal priest. He works in youth- and young-adult ministry, loves comic books, and lives with his family in Nashville, Tennessee. His first book was Exploring Blue Like Jazz, with Donald Miller; and he contributed a chapter to the recently released It Happens: True Tales from the Trenches of Youth Ministry.

 

STUFF YOU WILL NEED

  • Bibles
  • the prayers for “Sharing in Prayer” copied on separate sheets of paper for the leader
  • chilled out, meditative music
  • (optional) paper, pens, art supplies
  • Print-Friendly Version of this Session

 

PLUGGED IN

Here are a few resources for exploring body prayer in both its ancient and modern forms:

 

CHECKING IN

Invite each person to say his or her name and to answer the following question:
     If a holiday were named after you, what would it be called and how would it be celebrated?

Continue by asking the group to discuss these questions:
          What have you been taught about the way your body is connected to your faith?
          What is something physical that, when you partake in it, you feel alive?
          What are ways you pray or worship that involve you physically?

 

EXPLORING THE WORD

Scripture: Genesis 1:26–31, Genesis 1:31–2:9, John 1:14–18

Distribute Bibles. Ask one or more volunteers to read aloud the scripture passages listed above.

After Genesis 1:26–31 and Genesis 1:31–2:9 have been read, invite the group to discuss:
          What do these two texts say about our bodies?
          What does it mean to say that our bodies are created in God’s image?
          What does it mean to say that our bodies are part of God’s good creation?
          Do you see your body as good? as part of God’s creation?

After a volunteer has read John 1:14–18, invite discussion:
          What does the scripture say about Jesus’ body?
          What does it say about how people know God?
          How does God use the body to affect the redemption of the whole creation?

 

SHARING IN PRAYER

Explain that the group will spend the next 25 minutes in prayer. The prayers will not be the words they speak but will be expressed in the postures they hold. The exercise is meant to expand the notion that prayer is only a verbal exchange and to embrace creatively the biblical notion that worship and prayer require and involve the whole body.

Below are five different body prayers. Each invites the people praying to engage with God with all of themselves—body, mind, spirit—and to focus their intention through physical forms. Lead the group through this experience as follows:

  • Invite people to spread out around the room, to get comfortable and ready to move (to take off their shoes and un-tuck their shirts).
  • Tell group members that they will be experiencing five different prayers.
  • Explain that in each case, the prayer will be the physical act: the movement they make or the posture they take and hold.
  • Explain that you will guide them through the five movements or postures they are to assume and will read aloud the words of the accompanying prayer (provided below). Invite people to join you in closing each prayer with this call and response:
              Leader: Lord in your mercy,
              People: Hear our prayer.
  • Play some meditative music—softly in the background so that it is not distracting.
  • (Optional) Provide paper, pens, and art supplies. After people have held the pose for each prayer, invite them to write words or to create a piece of art, which will reflect on the pose they have taken and will continue their prayer. Then conclude by reading the accompanying prayer below.
  • Keep an eye on the time, but don’t rush.

 

1. PRAYER FOR REST AND SABBATH

          (Book of Common Prayer)

Posture: Shrug your shoulders and hold them up. Then slowly release them while exhaling.

Prayer:
O God, in the course of this busy life
give us times of refreshment and peace;
and grant that we may so use our leisure
to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds,
that our spirits may be opened
to the goodness of your creation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

          Leader: Lord in your mercy,
          People: Hear our prayer.

 

2. PRAYER FOR JOY

Posture: Clasp your hands together with your fingers interlocked. Slowly extend them over your head and release your fingers so that you are reaching up.

Prayer:
O God, you have created us in your image,
with the capacity for pleasure and joy.
In our sinfulness, we have not received your gift
but have been ruled by it.
Redeem us through your son Jesus Christ
so that we may find enjoyment in your good creation
and pleasure in serving you. Amen.

          Leader: Lord in your mercy,
          People: Hear our prayer.

 

3. PRAYER FOR PEACE

          (Book of Common Prayer)

Posture: Sit crossed-legged on the ground, with your arms wrapped around you as a symbol of protection. Slowly unwrap your arms, and assume a posture of vulnerability. Breathe deeply.

Prayer:
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom
no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness,
no strength known but the strength of love:
So mightily spread abroad your Spirit,
that all peoples may be gathered under the banner
of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father;
to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

          Leader: Lord in your mercy,
          People: Hear our prayer.

 

4. PRAYER FOR THE OPPRESSED

          (Book of Common Prayer)

Posture: Take a pose of discomfort. Find and hold an uncomfortable position, as an act of Christ-like solidarity with the oppressed.

Prayer:
Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this land
who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as their constant companions.
Have mercy upon us. Help us to eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors.
Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law
and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy
a fair portion of the riches of this land; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

          Leader: Lord in your mercy,
          People: Hear our prayer.

 

5. PRAYER OF SUBMISSION TO AND TRUST BEFORE GOD

          (Book of Common Prayer)

Posture: Kneel down and touch your forehead to the ground in front of you, arms at your sides.

Prayer:
Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to thee,
so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills,
that we may be wholly thine, utterly dedicated unto thee;
and then use us, we pray thee, as thou wilt,
and always to thy glory and the welfare of thy people;
through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

          Leader: Lord in your mercy,
          People: Hear our prayer.

 

When you have moved through the five prayers, bring the group back together. Ask people to rate their experience (thumbs up, down, or in-between). Then ask:
          Why did you answer as you did?
          Was any part of the exercise easier than you thought it would be?
          Was any part harder than you expected?
          How could a similar practice be part of your everyday life with God?
          What distracted you while you were praying? What do the distractions tell you about yourself?
          How did you experience God during the prayers?

To conclude the session, invite each person to offer a one-word prayer describing his or her encounter with God.

 

TAKING IT FURTHER

God’s redemption was accomplished in Christ through his body (Hebrews 10:10). As Jesus’ body was offered as a vessel for redemption and healing, so should ours. Paul builds this case when he calls the church the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27, Ephesians 4:15). How could practicing body prayer inspire us to embody our faith in our families, neighborhoods, and cities? How might we, like Jesus, offer our bodies to be broken for the healing of the world? 

Invite group members to pray about this and to consider what body prayers might draw them closer to Jesus and send them out to be agents of healing in his name.

—from devozine In the Habit (March/April 2013). Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.
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