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Palms Down, Palms Up

Like David, perhaps you have faced some giants in your life, sometimes taking on problems seeming a lot bigger than you. Over the course of David’s illustrious and tumultuous life he learned reliance on God, encouraging others to follow after him: “Cast your burden on the LORD and he will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22). Generations later the apostle Peter echoed David’s voice of experience by counseling people in difficulty: “Cast all your anxiety on God, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). What a marvelous word-picture these two great saints give us: casting onto God anything that burdens or makes us anxious!

There is an ancient spiritual practice that has helped many to place their burdens and anxieties in God’s hands and experience His love and care for them. It is a way of praying passed down through various Christian communities, but recently popularized as ‘Palms Down, Palms Up’ in Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline.

It is not surprising that Palms Down, Palms Up is a way of praying that makes use of our hands. This is body language at its best. Just as many of us cannot talk without our hands, so we like to pray with our hands. In the Bible we see people often using their hands in prayer, lifting them to God (Psalm 134:2) and stretching them out to Him (Psalm 143:6).

Palms Down, Palms Up is taking your problems from your hands and placing them in God’s hands to receive from Him the grace and help that you need. Here is how you can pray Palms Down, Palms Up:

1. Begin by placing the palms of your hands downward as symbolic of your desire to let go into God’s hands all of your burdens and anxieties. You can do this sitting at your desk, waiting in the doctor’s office, or in bed at two o’clock in the morning. With your palms turned downward you might pray, for examples, “Lord, I put into your hands my worry about my job.” Or, “I surrender to you my anxiety about seeing the doctor.” Or, “I release to you my frustration with my neighbor.” Whatever burdens you, makes you anxious, release it. Let go of it into God’s hands.

2. After moments of letting go and surrender, turn the palms of your hands upward, symbolic of your desire to receive from the Lord. You might pray, “Lord, I receive from you the love and forgiveness that I need for my neighbor… the peace that I need for my doctor’s appointment…the guidance I need to meet my financial fears…” I receive it all from you.”

3. Now spend some moments in silence. Just be still…know that He is God. Simply allow the Lord to love you.

4. You can complete Palms Down, Palms Up by praying the Lord’s Prayer or by giving thanks to God for His love and care for you.

“I cast all my cares upon You,
I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet.
And any time I don’t know what to do,
I will cast all my cares upon You.”

-Kelly Willard

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