How to Pray in Unusual Ways
Praying is talking to God. Like in any communication, words are only part of how we interact. Many people think they have to master prayer like one would master mathematics or art. Prayer is a surrendering of ourselves to God. It is laying before Him what we are not what we think we ought to be. True prayer does not require practice. It is the abandonment of self. Everything we do with love without thought of that love is praise enough. Prayer is not complicated. It is simply and honestly connecting with God. So not necessarily on bent knees, we can pray in unusual ways.
Singing - Saint Augustine once said that when one sings, one prays twice. When we sing we are in touch with the deepest aspects of our hearts. Singing is a whole body act and expresses our thoughts and emotions more powerfully than words alone. We can sing our prayers and pray our songs. It lifts people's spirits. Singing in celebration or mourning releases the soul freely to God. Walter Savage Lander once said, "Music is God's best gift to man; the only art of heaven given to earth, the only art of earth we take to heaven."
Gardening - No place can you feel closer to God than when you are working in the garden. There is something profound about gardening. We experience a seasonal connection with nature and the earth and we are forced to realize the interconnectedness of all living things. Gardens make the world more beautiful. They are the combination of our own creativity and the creativity of the earth. Turning a bare space into a garden is a satisfying endeavor and reaches to the very core of our natural selves. George Bernard Shaw once wrote, "The best place to seek God is in the garden. You can dig for Him there."
God's Creatures - We have all heard the saying "he prays best who loves all this both great and small." We are blessed with an intricate world of living things. Noticing and appreciating even the smallest of God's creations is a thank you prayer in itself. The beauty and complexity of the butterfly is God's gift to us. We owe it to God to treat every living thing He created with kindness and respect. Fellowship with all living things begins with gratitude and that is a prayer in itself. Mahatma Gandhi once said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
Dancing - Dancing a prayer is nothing new. It is the integration of body, mind and, if we do it right, soul. C.S. Lewis once said something like you are not really dancing if you are counting the steps. Abandoning yourself to expressive rhythms and moves is uplifting and can pave the way to meditation and spiritual awakening. Dance is prayer in motion. It is a praising of God using movement. Whether alone or in community, dancing energizes the spirit and gives new life to human emotions. In Psalm 149:3 it says, "Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre."
Art - Taking brush to canvas or pencil to paper can be one of the most rewarding forms of prayer. While creating an image, we are forced to look deeper into ourselves and to "see" more than just what is there. In this state, we become in tune with our inner selves and the devotion required can be an exercise in prayer. Art puts the artist in a spiritual place. As we work on our art, our art works on us. American writer, Frederick Busch once said, " Good art is a form of prayer. It's a way to say what's not sayable."
Work - It is difficult to think of work or labor as a gift from God never mind a way to pray. When God created mankind, he immediately put them to work. In Genesis 2:15, it says, "Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it." If we look at our work as a way to please God (as well as putting food on the table) it becomes a spiritual act. Work is prayer expressed in action. Even the most mundane and humble of jobs can be done in love. Work contributes to society and perseverance in accomplishing even little things with God in mind is prayer.Horace Mann once said, "...It is the spirit that is carried into an employment that elevates or degrades it."
Walking - Like dancing, walking is praying in motion. It is a fusion of body and mind, of being and doing. Walking has been used as a tool for prayer and meditation by monks for centuries. It provides an easy connection to the universe and losing yourself to the rhythm leaves you uncluttered and open to God. Walking is a freeing practice especially when walking in nature. The appreciation of natural beauty is a prayer in itself. Walking can slow down time and be a meditative act. Journalist Hal Borland wrote, "All walking is discovery. On foot we take the time to see things whole."
"Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart." Mahatma Gandhi