Hands clasped
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30-01-2012, 08:53 PM
Hands clasped
I tried searching for this briefly but to no avail.

Does anyone know any origin stories on the hand clasping of Christian prayer. Any symbolism? I know that the gesture has wildly different meanings across some cultures but what made it a hotline to God for Christians? Also, does prayer "work" if you don't do that? I was raised secular so I've never been to Church and I've not been exposed to a lot of people praying.

Thanks!

In science, "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent." I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.

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30-01-2012, 09:35 PM
RE: Hands clasped
C.S. Lewis said something about physical position in prayer in The Screwtape Letters.

Quote:At the very least, they can be persuaded that the bodily position makes no difference to their prayers; for they constantly forget, what you must always remember, that they are animals and that whatever their bodies do affects their souls.

And that's all he says about it. Completely vague, and based on no evidence whatsoever.

If you ask the average Christian I'm guessing they'll tell you it has something to do with showing reverence. As far as I know (and I was Christian for 15/16 of my life) it doesn't really symbolize anything. Most people would probably say prayer still "works" even if your hands aren't folded. Again it was mostly just a sign of respect when I did it.
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30-01-2012, 10:22 PM
RE: Hands clasped
Some say that it goes back as far as the Talmud, referring to how Jews used to pray but there was nothing set in stone (literally) that stated that one had to have their hands a certain way in order to pray. Most references mention bowing the head or kneeling.

No matter what, I'm sure someone will find a link between prayer and the discovery of Super Glue and pranks.

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31-01-2012, 12:34 AM
RE: Hands clasped
I would assume it's for the same reason they kneel and bow their heads. Submissiveness, obedience, humility, prostration. These are the things God demands from his servants. After all, he is the King of Kings. Bow before him and grovel, bitch.

And God hears you when you pray without clasping your hands... he just pretends not to until you get the hint.

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31-01-2012, 12:56 AM
RE: Hands clasped
I've seen people put their hands up in the air with their eyes closed while praying. I think there's no special instruction except to express what moves you.
Snake handling anyone? I think that's some weird form of prayer. Those fuckwits use rattlers!! I think I'd be praying I didn't get bitten and die. Wink

I might be with BC on that subservient posturing thing as far as what a God might expect -that Christian God seems to have a hell of an ego. No wonder there can be only one! Tongue

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31-01-2012, 01:27 AM
RE: Hands clasped
I've often seen Captain Kirk clasp his hands and smack Spock. I don't think this was the origin you're looking for, even though some do revere Kirk as a god Big Grin

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31-01-2012, 07:14 AM
RE: Hands clasped
I have a wild guess:
I assume the gesture of falling on your knees and putting your hands together is older than the bible. I see this gesture when people beg for mercy for example. And this is what a christian (at least catholic and afaik orthodox) does at church. Getting on the knees and putting hands together while praying (asking god for stuff, begging him to this and that). Maybe that's the connection? - Also looking into animal world, animals that are scared or don't want to be seen try to be small, if you put you hands together you look kinda smaller from the front (your outline), so that would fit the begging for mercy part I think...
but yeah, just guessing around here

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31-01-2012, 10:57 AM
RE: Hands clasped
Sorry, I pulled a couple of things from wikipedia, but well cited. I thought it interesting information mainly about prayer itself, pre-Christian. Assuming they incorporated the practice from the Romans, it confirms what I always thought about Christian love being a bargain or wager. Imagine physically and mentally practicing such insincerity several times a day. Blows my mind. Shy
***

Etruscan, Greek, and Roman paganism
In the pre-Christian religions of Greeks and Romans (Ancient Greek religion, Roman religion), ceremonial prayer was highly formulaic and ritualized. The Iguvine Tables contain a supplication that can be translated, "If anything was said improperly, if anything was done improperly, let it be as if it were done correctly."

The formalism and formulaic nature of these prayers led them to be written down in language that may have only been partially understood by the writer, and our texts of these prayers may in fact be garbled. Prayers in Etruscan were used in the Roman world by augurs and other oracles long after Etruscan became a dead language. The Carmen Arvale and the Carmen Saliare are two specimens of partially preserved prayers that seem to have been unintelligible to their scribes, and whose language is full of archaisms and difficult passages.

Roman prayers and sacrifices were often envisioned as legal bargains between deity and worshipper. The Roman principle was expressed as do ut des: "I give, so that you may give." Cato the Elder's treatise on agriculture contains many examples of preserved traditional prayers; in one, a farmer addresses the unknown deity of a possibly sacred grove, and sacrifices a pig in order to placate the god or goddess of the place and beseech his or her permission to cut down some trees from the grove.

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31-01-2012, 11:12 AM
RE: Hands clasped
Probably stems from a natural urge to drop to your knees and press your hands together while pleading.

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31-01-2012, 09:29 PM
RE: Hands clasped
Thanks folks, lots of good answers! Interesting to say the least.

In science, "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent." I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.

--Stephen Jay Gould
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