Why are we praying naked?

Q: Heh heh. You said “naked.” Is this a porn site? Cool.

A. No. No, it is not. Sorry.

This site is a collection — and maybe eventually a discussion? — of some cosmic, theological, faith-based thoughts that I’ve been wanting to collect for a long time.

The idea of praying naked is something that doesn’t appeal to me, frankly. I associate “naked” with sexy time and/or with being vulnerable. I always have an urge to wrap myself in at least a towel before I’m going to talk to God. Which is silly, but I suspect I’m not alone.

So while I think praying without anything to cover you up is a healthy idea, it’s more the metaphor of being vulnerable — of expressing ourselves honestly, of not hiding from God — that Christianity needs to recover. If it ever had it?

The tag line for this site, however, probably says more about my sense of humor and my provocations than anything else. I *do* believe that praying naked (emotionally, physically, mentally), just as one is, is among the greatest kinds of glorifications we as individuals, at least, can give to God that don’t involve another person.

But praying that way — actually or metaphorically — is the kind of thing that makes most church-goers, including me, squirm. Or run for the door. Or — importantly — never come in the door in the first place.

It’s kind of like how I feel about children in church. They’re probably being the most open and honest of any of us, but they’re also disruptive, and piercingly loud if they’re screaming. And, to be honest, except for a very few exceptions in my life, I just don’t generally like children. Sorry, I know: horrible person. But the truth was I didn’t much like children, particularly in plural, when I was one, so even less so now that I’m not.

Yet Jesus definitely liked kids. His “suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” is the best example, but he heals kids, too, not just fully formed, theologically sound, truly-or-otherwise repentant adults.

So I go to a church that, frankly, doesn’t have the most kid-friendly services in town. Because we’re in a major city, we’re able to have professional singers in our choir, one of the country’s leading pipe organs, somber and reflective liturgies, special services of meditation, etc. People tend to drift toward the churches where they feel the most comfortable, so it’s no surprise that we have a lot of young, single people at my church, gay people, older people, and other types who aren’t likely to bring kids to church. Not that it was on any checklist we had when we walked in the door, church-shopping. It just happened that way.

(For the record, we do have a nursery for very small children and Sunday School for the elementary school children during our main Sunday service; Sunday School is only during the school year, for some reason.)

Of course, we say we want more families (translation: married couples with children, but we’ll accept other kinds), nearly every church does, but in truth, those families are probably already going to a church where a lot of other couples with kids go, and everyone is far more chill about children babbling over the sermon or screaming during an anthem.

What I’m saying is: When it comes to children, their relationship to God is probably far closer to “praying naked” than mine is, so in that case, I’m the pious one.

But, of course, I also mean that tag line just as it reads there: Glorify God and Annoy the Pious. Because the pious among us are typically the ones most uptight about being naked, or about anything earthy defiling worship, prayer, and praise. So it’s a reminder to me, and a call to others, to go for the bargain, two for the price of one. Pray naked and you get to glorify God and annoy the pious. Sounds like a pretty great deal to me.


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