the prayer of the open hand

Posted: March 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

The prayer of the open hand.  That’s just a name I call it.  I’ve learned to pray it constantly, steadily, wholeheartedly these last several years.  I suspect in the end it is the most boiled-down essence of what prayer is supposed to be.  The more often I pray it, the more free I become. 

What is the prayer of the open hand?  It is the opposite of the “list prayer,” in which you recite to God what You need from Him and what you want Him to do for others.  It is utterly unrelated to any prayer that contains timetables or checklists or plans constructed by any man or woman. 

The prayer of the open hand is:  whatever situation, decision, challenge, relationship, person, question etc ( WHOLE WORLD) is on my heart, I picture it there on my hand.  I picture me lifting my hand up to Him.  I picture my hand all the way open…flat…not the slightest curl to my fingers.  I hold it up, there in my heart, and I offer it to Him…without condition.

Do what You will with it.

Change it if You like, as You like, when You like, without regard for my agenda.

Let me keep it, or take it away from me, as it pleases You best.

I want what YOU want, nothing less, nothing more.

Sometimes that’s an easy prayer.  Sometimes it takes every bit of the force of my will to keep my fingers from curling round it, from pressing it to my chest, from covering it ’round with the closed fists of both hands. 

I prayed it when I was finally invited to live at JPUSA.

I prayed it when I was asked to pray about moving back home from JPUSA.

I prayed it when my guy Gary finally came pursuing me. 

In all 3 cases (and many more that I am not listing here) I refused to pray at all until I could pray the prayer of the open hand sincerely.  Until I could MEAN this business of Him doing His will, not mine.  Until I could be sure I would let Him carry me through joyfully, whether or not His answers matched the desires of my heart. 

In the first of those 3, His desires matched mine, and it was good.

In the second, His desires did not match mine, and it was good.

In the third, it looks like He and I are on the same page about it, and it is good.  And in truth, I continue to consciously pray the prayer of the open hand about this relationship.  We wait on His direction and won’t be settling for less than that. 

I thought of all this today as some of my best friends came together to help a friend load up a moving truck.  Our friend is leaving everything he has ever known, moving all the way across the country, following God’s direction.  I’m excited for him, and nervous for him.  I know that business of Every Single Thing Changing, and am familiar with its contours and challenges.  I’m grateful to know ways to pray for him amidst the change. 

It would be easy to be upset that he leaves us – and I am definitely sad.  Have shed my share of tears today.  But really, if I cannot hold a dear friend on the open palm of my hand in prayer, then that’s less a great friendship and more a dependency.  So I pray for him, there on the flat, open palm of my hand, and trust the One who loves him even more than I do. 

It is a great source of calm and assurance in me to know that my friend LIVES that prayer of the open hand.  I’ve watched him doing it for years now.  And here he goes tomorrow morning, stepping into the moving truck, his whole world on the flat, open palm of his hand, lifted up to the One we serve, trusting that if He said so, all is well. 

It ain’t easy.  Simple, yes.  Easy, awww HECK no. 

But it’s a beautifully free place.  A place where intimacy with God can be found on levels only reachable from such a starting place. 

Go with Daddy, my friend.  I celebrate with you through tears.  I can’t wait to hear what He’s got for you there.

And I pray for you that your hand remains open. 


  1. Sherri Adelman says:


    I am Cala Smoldt’s friend and have thoroughly enjoyed your blog. I would love it if you would follow my blog: and give me any input you might have on my writing. Also, from your writing, I gather you live in Davenport, IA? I live in Huxley, IA (between Ankeny and Ames) – I would love it, if it would be possible sometime to meet you in person…. If it would work out sometime to meet somewhere – perhaps Iowa City or Cedar Rapids? I would enjoy the opportunity to meet you and talk God, writing, singlenes, etc… singles ladies our age (I’m not sure but I am guessing you are close in age to me, I’ll be 44 next month)

    Anyway, just wanted to drop you a note. I thoroughly enjoy and am challenged my your blogs.

    God bless,


    • karen says:

      Cool! I just went and email subscribed. I have seen your blog at least once before and enjoyed it. Looking forward to a more regular look at it.

      I’m sure we could get together. Yes, I am 47 and sure we would have fun sharing. But I don’t think I’ll ever be as tough as you…A MARATHON?! HOLY COW.

      Thank you, Sherri, for coming by to encourage me. Any friend of Cala’s is a friend of mine. 🙂 Looking forward to getting to know you!

  2. dori says:

    I always enjoy reading your blog, Karen. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this prayer. It reminds me a bit of the Quaker prayer of holding someone in the light. I pray that way when I recognize that I am trying to control the outcomes of my prayers. Perhaps, I should consider making it my primary style though.

  3. Linda says:

    Karen, I really liked this whole idea. It seems so simple but I know it is not…we as humans tend to want to be incontrol and take things back. thank you so much for sharing this…love ya

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