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Praying Hands Calms the Mind

Jun 19, 2008
There is a common prayer gesture among Christians which is called praying hands or the hands clasped or folded together before the heart. Such a prayer gesture is a symbol of obedience, submission, sincerity and repentance. There are others who raise their prayer hands as if pleading to God.

This gesture, however, is not only common to Christians but to Jews as well. In the book entitled "Book of Jewish Knowledge" by Nathan Ausubel, he said: "It has also been commonly assumed that folding the hands in prayer is exclusively a Christian custom. This is not the historical fact at all. As early as the post-Exilic period, when Jews prayed, they folded their hands, and they observed this custom for several centuries even after it had been adopted by Christians."

Jesus, being a Jew, also prayed with clasped hands. You must have seen pictures or images of Him in the garden of Gethsemani in this prayer gesture. In other art works, you can also see the Virgin Mary and angels with their hands clasped as well.

Not only do Jews and Christians practice it but also the Hindus and Buddhists. The latter draw their palms together to show respect, to venerate their deities and to greet one another. This posture is termed the "anjali mudra", anjali meaning offering and mudra, seal. Particularly in India, the word "Namaste" is said while doing this posture as a way of saying something like a sacred hello since the word "Namaste" is translated as "I bow to the divinity within you from the divinity within me."

Pope Benedict XVI in his book "Spirit of the Liturgy" said that the body is an integral part of the act of worship and I quote: "The body has a place within the divine worship of the Word made flesh, and it is expressed liturgically in a certain discipline of the body, in gestures that have developed out of the liturgy's inner demands..." So the body certainly has a place, along with the heart, mind and soul, in prayer.

In the same book, the Pope recalled that during the time when feudalism was prevalent, those who were under a Lord would place their joined hands into the hands of their Lord to symbolize faithfulness and loyalty. Similarly, when we clasp our hands in prayer, we are doing the same - pledging to God our faithfulness and loyalty and placing our hands in His hands.

Does using the praying hands gesture help our ability to pray or meditate? Practitioners of yoga believe that doing this gesture brings the left and right hemispheres of one's brain together and quiet the mind.

Personally, I am able to focus on God more when I pray with my hands folded. Try swinging your hands instead and see if you can concentrate. It is just like when I kneel to pray. I acknowledge God's presence with respect. I know a lot of people feel the same way. Praying hands and praying hearts are certainly pleasing to God.
About the Author
For some Bible-based advice on how to make your prayers more powerful and effective, go to www.how-to-pray-effectively.com and discover the secrets to answered prayer. For more articles about prayer, go to our praying hands blog.
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