Praying with your Hands: Summer Spirituality

By Bruce Epperly

We can pray in many ways -- images, thoughts, and words -- and we can also pray with our hands. Healthy touch can heal, transform, energize, and empower. In less than a month, I will become a grandparent for the first time. Becoming a grandparent reminds me of how important touch is for newborns and children. As a new parent thirty years ago, I recall spending hours rocking, caressing, and massaging my infant son. And, of course, before our son was born, I learned pregnancy massage with my wife Kate, something I have continued as our relationship has evolved over the past thirty years. Virtually every night I give a back rub to relax and share my love. In many years of parenting, I recall spending hours of time reading with my son sitting on my lap or beside him in bed -- it was about the book, but it was also about the touch.

A few years back, I read Wendy Mogel's Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-reliant Children. While the book is excellent, what was most inspiring was the act of blessing by healing touch. While obviously our touch needs to be healthy, welcome, and for the well-being of the other, our loving touch connects us with others and shares God's healing energy.

In the mid-1980s, I learned a form of healing touch known as Reiki, or universal energy. Now, for over twenty-five years, Reiki has been, along with prayer, meditation, and walking, central to my spiritual life. I have been a Reiki teacher/master for over fifteen years. Reiki healing touch is a simple hands-on way to awaken ourselves and others to the energy that heals and transforms. In Reiki healing touch, I simply place my hands on another's body, gracefully letting the energy of love and life flow through the two of us. Reiki is graceful prayer in action: it requires little effort, just the willingness to open to God's healing through touch.

The use of Reiki has transformed my life. I give friends and family regular Reiki treatments. I also give myself a Reiki treatment every day, taking about ten minutes to place my hands on the top of my head, forehead, eyes, throat, heart, stomach, and above the genital area. Giving yourself a Reiki treatment is a way to promote personal well-being and love oneself.

As a Christian, I believe that Reiki shares in the same energy as the healing miracles of Jesus. God seeks wholeness in many ways -- massage, anointing and laying on of hands, acupuncture, therapeutic touch, medical qigong, and Reiki -- and when we touch with love, we share in the same energy that Jesus embodied in his ministry. (For more on the healings of Jesus and healing touch, see my book, Reiki Healing Touch and the Way of Jesus; Healing Worship: Purpose and Practice; and God's Touch: Faith, Wholeness, and the Healing Miracles of Jesus.)

So, this summer, while recognizing that many people have experienced touch in traumatic ways, open to healing possibilities through praying with your hands. Let divine wisdom guide and inspire in ways that will bring greater healing, spiritual centeredness, and well-being to yourself and those you love.

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