During August 2021, UC Grace ran a Prayer Movement Challenge. It’s aim was to both show and share how simple it can be to integrate prayer and movement together. Prompting thoughtful reflection and encouraging self exploration. During the challenge each day had a focus and we used Ephesians 6.10-18 as our foundation as we explored simple ways to experience prayer and movement together.
What did each day entail?
Day 1 we focused on Ephesians 6.10-13 and looked at acknowledging how we welcome God into our prayers, start our prayers and create a habit.
Day 2 was touching on Ephesians 6.14-15 and how we identify things that we feel insecure with or struggle with.
Day 3 began to draw things together by considering Ephesians 6.16 and exploring why we struggle with the things we do and how we lean on God to be in the centre of your battle.
Day 4, through Ephesians 6.17 we know that God gives us the things we need to fight with and part of our journey is learning to accept that.
Day 5 considered perseverance. The chance to keep going, pressing in and giving it to God.
Acknowledging where in the journey you are
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6.10-13
One of the things that I have struggled with during my journey as a Christian is connecting to God more, both through his word directly, and in prayer. There can seem to be all these ‘shoulds’ as you go through your Christian walk.
You should read the Bible everyday, you should have a quiet time every day, you should soak in God’s presence, you should be praying morning and evening, you should get up early to do it all. The list goes on. And whilst each one of those things has a place in our walk as Christian, it took me a long time to realise that there are no ‘shoulds’ with God, there are only invitations and opportunities presented. We are after all made unique, that means each of our walks will be unique, there isn’t a one size fits all. Often it’s the smallest change that you make in your walk that creates the biggest impact. A change that is easily manageable day to day. For me this involved adding prayer and movement together and recognising the intention through doing this.
I asked questions such as –
How are we ready? What makes us move? How does God give you strength at the moment? Where are your priorities in your prayer life? How do you get ready to pray? Close your eyes, open your hands out, pause, breathe and drop your shoulders? They are all movements!
At UC Grace it’s not prayer and movement, but instead prayer movement, I define this as the following –
“Prayer movement is your body’s reaction to drawing closer to God. The external display of an internal feeling and preparation for a conversation. It’s nuances that only you and God know. Fleeting moments when you choose to acknowledge your connection and conversation with God. The reality of moving through life sometimes 100 miles an hour but still always doing the same thing when you choose to pray. To have that conversation and allow intention into the time of response with God.“
The first step in moving, (literally and figuratively) forward in our prayer lives is acknowledging where we are really at and recognising how God’s word can help us do that.
Prayer and Movement is an individual journey
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6.14-15
The journey that we take is all different. Some of you will be keen to apply prayer and movement together in your prayers in lots of ways. Others of you want the opportunity to see, explore and do just a little, to knock on the door.
Whichever stage you are at that’s fine. It’s your individual journey. Part of creating a habit is giving yourself space to identify what you struggle with. This isn’t something you do as a one off, it’s an ongoing process.
For me this was something that took me a while to grasp. I used to figure that because I had looked at and identified areas of struggle or insecurity once that that meant I was done and wouldn’t need to do it again.
The reality is, just like we have to continually work at keeping our focus on God. We have to continually pause and recognise what we are struggling with and act on it. God is always there to support and guide us, but if we don’t stop long enough to see that things won’t change. For me part of that process is being honest with God when I am in those insecure places. When I need to know his truths more and have the confidence to stand firm.
Exploring our journey
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Ephesians 6.16
Part of any journey we encounter with our faith is recognising and acknowledging what is part of the journey. There will be many points along the journey where we feel like we are being attacked, don’t know how to get out or just feel really down. God is with us and He will defend us.
The amazing verse is exodus describes this for us. ‘The Lord will fight for You’ you need only to be still’. In the high speed train of life we can often forget the simple actions this verse portrays. In those flight or fight moments you have a choice, to turn and move away or to pause, be still and let God work. Neither are the easy option.
But the biggest difference I have found when I am in this position is activating a pause. A physical pause right there with my body but also a mental pause. A mental pause which allows God to speak, his word to enter my mind, the Holy Spirit to take control of the situation and to receive His peace. Two things have now happened in this moment. You’ve acknowledged that you need God in the situation, and you’ve also given the space for God to be in the situation.
Accepting our journey
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6.17
For me to grow not only in my dance leadership skills but my normal leadership skills I have had to make a choice to grow in other areas of my faith. This has involved an acceptance that I need to action God’s word and look for the impact it can make in my life and others. It’s also stepping out and moving myself to God’s word and not just telling others. The armour of God that this challenge was based on is a springboard to help us to grow, to action God’s word, the scriptures and see the impact. Those moments when we need to fight the flaming arrows, God gives us the things we need – his armour, his word, his spirit. Joining prayer and movement together helps us fight this stronger.
Perseverance in what’s ahead
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6.18
Our Christian walk is full of perseverance, the need to press on and seek God. How that looks for each person. Your act of pushing through giving God a place in all areas of your life whether big or small. Will all be different.
I’ve experienced so many times, thinking that I am track and focusing on God. But when I stopped long enough. I realised that I needed help, a little direction, encouragement and joy in my journey in order to keep persevering.
The opportunity to lift it all up to God, seeing and feeling the joy as God takes control, is a feeling to strive for. It’s like you’re putting a full stop in as you let God peel it all off you. The perseverance you pick, is not to do it in your own strength but in Gods.
Going on from here
The Prayer Movement Challenge was run as a lead up to launching the mentoring programmes of UC Grace. My passion for the mentoring is to provide a safe space for people to grow in whatever area they need. That could be directly related to dance and movement or it could be about their faith, habits and life mindset. Whichever it is. It will be an adventure as they invite God into the centre of that journey. You can read more about mentoring here.
My journey to writing the challenge was a chance for me to really look at when I move, why I move and what helps me as I pray, focus, and build my conversations with God, connecting prayer and movement together. My hope above anything else was to open others eyes to the possibilities of how you can approach your prayers and deepen your faith.
If you’d like to explore this concept more why not join us for our Prayer Dance Trail course. This encourages you to encounter God outside in his creation with prayer and movement together. More info is available here.
These blog posts might also be useful: