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Five Finger Prayer

five finger prayer

There are several mnemonics to help cover the various dimensions of prayer. Some of them use five fingers:

The thumb is nearest to us, closest to our heart. The pointing finger reminds us of teachers, doctors, clergy… The longest, tallest finger reminds us to pray for those in authority. The ring finger is weak – we pray for the sick, those in difficulty… Last, I pray for myself.

Another mnemonic is provided in the image that follows. Some add “listen”, I would add “be still”, on the palm of the hand.

5 finger prayer

first image source
second image source

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7 Responses to Five Finger Prayer

  1. I have used this in a small congregation and sent everyone home with a rubber glove with the reminders written on the fingers.

  2. Thanks for the reminder of this useful memory aid! I’ve used it with study groups as a reminder of ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication!Similar to the second diagram, but slightly different order.
    Linda

  3. It may be useful to know that the five finger prayer can be very damaging for the self-esteem. Putting oneself last is something that a lot of people do automatically. It doesn’t help for them to feel that God puts them last as well. A prayer which is equally damaging is to teach people that the cross is “I” crossed out. (Surely the cross is Jesus putting us first not the other way around.)

    • That’s an interesting perspective, thanks Marian. In my experience a lot of people appear to think prayer is a personal wish-list – so focused on what I want, rather than on what I and others need, or what God wants for us. I can see that someone who is not growing up in a loving environment could see this format as yet another put-down; but I suspect that a person growing up in a healthy, loving environment, with a positive spirituality, and healthy self-esteem would not find this mnemonic “very damaging”. So IMO it is the loving environment that is key – not this particular mnemonic. Blessings.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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