Praying hands or clenched fists?
Hands are a very expressive part of the body. Hands reveal unspoken messages. They are used to applaud something well done or held in horror when tragedy strikes. We welcome a hand shake upon greeting and wave as we depart. We endorse a document with our name conveying the covenant of our heart. We adorn them with a ring and cut the cake in celebration. Hands can hold onto something tightly or throw it away from its white knuckled grasp.
Hands can even be a tell-tale indicator of the soul, revealing what is difficult to say aloud.
There is nothing sacred about how we hold our hands in prayer but do our hands belie the openness of our hearts as we pray? Praying is no easy matter. It demands openness, a relationship, allowing someone other than yourself to enter into the very center of your being, to see there what you would rather leave in darkness, to touch there what you would rather leave untouched. This is a place of intimacy – a place that most call dangerous and calls for defense.
This resistance is like a tightly clenched fist and it shows the tension clinging closely to ourselves; not allowing vulnerability because of past hurts. Then when you go to pray all these feelings held tightly come swarming back: bitterness, jealousy, disappointment or even revenge. These things have their grip and you clutch them with your hands as if they need to define your life. Some become attached to these dark feelings, clinging to the past with tight fists that are closed to the One who wants to heal you in your inmost being.
So how do we unclench our hands? We read throughout scripture, ‘do not be afraid,’ and in those words we find the first steps of release. Don’t be afraid of the One who makes the claim to ‘not be afraid’ for He knows your future. He wants to enter your most intimate place, encouraging you to let go of the things to which you cling – and this is done through prayer.
Each time you let go of some fear your hands begin to open. It may be that you open and close your hands several times for many different reasons but at least you have experienced the release. You will eventually find your grip unfolding and your palms spread out in a gesture to receive; open hands without fear. At first, this openness to intimacy is disarming but then it becomes the ultimate knowing of safety. Somebody knows all the details and still values us, welcomes us with open hands.
You may need to pray this prayer. “Please Lord, help me to relax my hands – pry them open one finger at a time, ease the tension and help me to realize there is nothing that important to hold onto other than to You, Lord Christ.” Then you are ready to:
Let go of control.
Let go of pride.
Let go of the fight.
Let go of receiving the credit.
Let go of the history that gives you entitlement.
Let go of the injustices and unfair treatments.
Let go of the children who were only on loan to you in the first place.
Let go of the finances that make you feel important, superior or needy and wanting.
It does not happen all at once but it could happen each time you pray. It will happen over a lifetime of praying and every time God will say, ‘do not be afraid because I am with you,’ and you are firmly in My grip. Nothing will compare to the treasures we can hold if we simply open them up to receive all He has to give into our emptied hands.