Sense of Touch
If our bodies as well as our heads and our hearts can provide a path to God or a window into God then ALL our senses can play their part.
The sense many people are afraid to use in their faith is the sense of touch. There is a widespread fear that somehow touch equals sex. Yet there are many occasions when there is no sexual connotation at all - a warm handshake, an arm round someone in distress, or even those bear-hugs after scoring a goal on the football field.
The following prayer exercises are gentle enough not to frighten anyone! They could either form two prayer exercises or a single extended exercise. They start from an awareness of our own bodies, continue with feeling an object, and then use the sense of touch in prayer for healing, rounding off with holding hands in a circle to emphasise our oneness in Christ.
Invite members to ‘centre down’ by becoming aware of their bodies, starting from the toes, working upwards, paying particular attention to areas of tension or discomfort. Give thanks for the marvellous complexity of the human body, which despite our ill-treatment of it usually serves us so well. Allow about five minutes for this.
Give to everyone a medium-sized stone or pebble and invite them to feel its weight, its shape, its cracks and bumps Ponder the millions of years your stone has been in existence, the earth when it began, the stone's history, what has gone on around it in the natural world, in the human world. That stone matters to God as a part of his creation; his world would not be complete without it, just as God's creation would not be complete without YOU. He needs you, too. How do you feel about your stone now? Allow about ten minutes for this section.
Ask everyone to put back their stone into a basket or other container. How do you feel about relinquishing it? Reluctant? Have you come to love that stone and its history just a little bit? If we have come to cherish our little stone in so short a time and do not want to lose it, how much more must we matter to God! Short silence. (cf Jonah 4:10-11)
A sense of touch is a way of literally getting 'in touch' with our feelings and with God. Jesus frequently used the sense of touch. Read aloud Luke 6: 53 - 56 and think about it for a few minutes. Why did Jesus often touch people when he healed them?
None of us is a whole person; all of us have undeveloped potentialities, or gifts we have wasted. Most of us have anxieties or some kind of neurosis. Many have physical illnesses. We are now going to lay hands on each other to ask God through the use of touch, for wholeness. Go round the circle in turn with the person on either side of each laying hands on the person between them. Some group members may like, before the laying on of hands, to tell the group what aspect of wholeness they are particularly asking for; others may prefer this to be between themselves and God.
This may be done either in silence or a leader may say some short prayer over each person, e.g.
May the Lord in his love and mercy uphold you by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit.
We lay our hands on you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. May he give you that healing and wholeness he wills for you and those you pray for. May his strength and peace fill you now and always.
God of grace, power and mercy; look on your servant N….. with love. Give her/him courage and confidence in your protection, and lead her/him to peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
At the end of this time, members may like to ask the whole group to pray for others in need of healing or wholeness.
Someone may then say some such prayer as:
Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we thank you for all your gifts of healing and forgiveness, for the grace to love and care for each other, for your hidden blessings and for all you have in store for us, for everything, whether joy or sorrow, whereby you are drawing us to yourself through Jesus Christ our Lord.
End the session by standing, holding hands in a circle and saying the Grace together. Do not hurry to release hands, but ponder for a few moments the truth that 'we are the Body of Christ' and that in him we are 'all one body'.