Spiritual Practices

“Palms Down, Palms Up” Prayer

There are times when we carry many burdens, worries or frustrations as we enter our time with God. Psalm 55:22 instructs us to “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you.” The following practice provides a practical way in which to do this.

Richard Foster in his book, Celebration of Discipline, describes the steps of praying Palms Down, Palms Up like this:  

  1. “Begin by placing your palms down as a symbolic indication of your desire to turn over any concerns you may have to God. Inwardly you may pray, 

‘Lord, I give you my anger toward _____.  

I release my fear about _______.  

I surrender my anxiety over _________.   

I release my frustration about _________

Whatever it is that weighs on your mind or is a concern to you… release it.  You may even feel a certain sense of release in your hands.” 

  1. “After several moments of surrender, turn your palms up as a symbol of your desire to receive from the Lord.  Perhaps you will pray silently, ‘Lord, I would like to receive your _________ What is it you need from the Lord today?

  2. “Having spent time in prayer, spend the remaining moments in complete silence. Do not ask for anything. Allow the Lord to commune with you and experience His love for you.” 

  3. When you are ready, take a few deep breaths so you can be ready to return to your life and schedule. As you leave this place, take the name of God with you to give you strength and courage to face whatever comes your way. 

Bodily Postures During Times Of Prayer

We can pray in almost any body position. Certain positions are more helpful for some people than for others, but adding a new posture to your prayer time can help open our hearts to God in a fresh way. The important aspect of posture is whether you can be at ease and yet attentive, reverent and yet relaxed. And so kneeling, sitting, standing, lying prostrate are all potential positions for prayer.

Once you have assumed a posture for prayer and the prayer time is going well, maintain the position  because outward restlessness or shifting of position can jar your inner calm of prayer. Often a certain rhythm of kneeling, sitting, standing, or walking is helpful in certain seasons of your spiritual life.



Standing is a way of honoring the presence of another and giving him or her your full attention. Stand before the majesty of God.

‘The LORD said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by’ (I Kings 19:11)


Outstretched Arms

Lifting up our arms or hands pulls our awareness toward heaven. It is a posture that opens the core of our body toward God.

‘May the lifting of my hands be like the evening sacrifice’ (Ps 141:2)

‘In your name I lift up my hands’ (Ps 63:4)


Uplifted Eyes

Looking up to heaven with open eyes draws our attention above earthly realities to eternal verities. We are not alone. God is watching us.

‘I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven’ (Ps 123:1)



Kneeling is a way we express humility and reverence.

‘Three times a day, he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before’ (Daniel 6:10)



Lying face down or bowing low to the earth reminds us that we were created from dust and to dust we will return. It is a posture of submission and obedient worship.

‘When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground’ (Luke 5:12)


Taken from Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, Adele Calhoun, p.276-77

An Awareness Examen

The Daily Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to become aware of God’s presence and discern his direction for us. The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that can help us see God’s hand at work in our whole experience. 

Settle Into Prayer With An Attitude Of Gratitude & a Moment of Silence

Spend a few moments in silence allowing yourself to become still. Thank God for accompanying you on your journey whether you recognized His presence or not. 

Ask For What You Seek And Desire 

Ask for the guidance from the Holy Spirit to help you get in touch with what has been happening in you and around you today. Ask for the ability to recognize how the Holy Spirit is leading you through these happenings. 

Reflect On Your Experiences Of The Day

1. Begin with a review of the various moments in your day. What were some of the major events throughout your day?  What people did I come in contact with? What is it that God wants to bring to your attention?

2. How was God present with you today? Where did you sense Him? Can you see how He was present in a given situation? 

3. What were your interactions with people like? What feelings, positive or negative did you have towards someone?  What does God want you to notice about that?

4. Is there anything that surfaced that you need to pray about?

This is a good time to process thoughts and feelings in your journal.

Respond To God – 

Take time to spend time in prayer with God. What response is He seeking from you? Confession? Repentance? Gratitude? Celebration?

The important part of the Examen is being attentive to your day with God for the purpose of making you more like Jesus and moving you into a deeper relationship with Him.

The Examen

The Daily Examen

Silence and Solitude

The practice of silence looks deceptively simple yet so difficult to do for many of us. We live in a world of noise and commotion. Yet to truly connect with the Lord and reflect on our heart and soul it's necessary to have this practice as a regular part of our spiritual walk. Is this difficult? Absolutely, especially in the beginning, but like learning an instrument or foreign language, it gradually becomes second nature. You will wonder how you ever lived without it.

As you begin, don’t worry about whether you are doing it “correctly.” This is about your relationship with God who rejoices at your intent and desire to be with Him.

Practice this 2 - 5 minutes at a time.

1. Sit down, close your eyes, and take a few deep cleansing breaths to help you settle into silence.


2. Choose a very simple prayer to express your openness and desire for God. Breathe in and out as you pray the words. This will help you in focusing your thoughts and attention. (e.g. Abba, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Here I am, Come Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus have mercy on me,  Jesus, you are  my peace)


3. Offer this prayer to allow Jesus full access to your life in a posture of openness and surrender.


4. When you become distracted (and you will), just return again to your prayer to God and your breathing.

Taken from Emotionally Healthy Spirituality materials

Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina means sacred reading. This is a beautiful way to focus on a smaller passage of scripture in a prayerful way. This can be done daily or over a period of time. Record your observations and notice what God is speaking to you.

Any passage will work when doing a Lectio Divina, but here are a few suggestions to give you a start: Psalm 23 or 25, Psalm 100, John 15, Romans 12 - choose only 4 - 6 verses for each reading.

1. Settle into your seat and location, removing distractions (cell phone, TV, etc.)  

2. Preparation (Silencio): Relax your body, clear your mind, take a few deep breaths, and invite Jesus to speak to you through His Word. 

3. Reading 1 (Lectio): Read the passage slowly (out loud if possible) pausing between sentences. Listen for a word or phrase that catches your attention. Repeat that word or phrase a few times silently. 

4. Reading 2 (Meditatio): Thinking about your word, read the passage again. Ask God how this passage, and specifically this word, connects with your life. 

5. Reading 3 (Oratio): What is the prayer that is in response to this word and this passage? Listen to hear if God is calling you to act in some way. 

6. Reading 4 (Contemplatio/Rest): Read the passage one more time and just rest in God’s presence with you and His love for you.

7. Resolve(Incarnatio): As you leave this encounter, resolve to take any specific actions that need to be carried out as a result of your time with God. 

Close your time with gratitude to God for speaking to you through His Word.