No Fig Leaf
Possibly the most frequent request of those desiring to deepen their spiritual life is to be taught how to pray. This is a lifelong need since our humble efforts to pray always seem inadequate and insufficient. Books written on prayer could surely circle the global, and one of them is James Michener’s book, Hawaii.
I recall from my antique cluttered memory of Michener’s tale an occasion where early Christian missionaries to the islands were trying to convert the pagan Hawaiians. A missionary was instructing some Hawaiians on how to pray by using the Lord’s Prayer. He had only said the first four words, “Our Father, who art…” when one Hawaiian jumped to his feet shouting, “No! No! You never speak to the gods with your clothes on!” Instantly he stripped himself naked, piously folded his hands and looked heavenward.
Michener has gifted with us a Hawaiian Lenten parable. The function of parables is to challenge our thinking. So restrain your religious prejudice about being naked, and using the tweezers of the Spirit, tease out of this charming story some personal implications. Begin by asking yourself at what times and in what places are you naked? Cannot these be times for you to praise or petition God? Is the buried treasure in this parable the possibility that your best prayer shrine is your shower or bathtub?
So seriously consider being naked whenever you pray—even if you’re fully clothed. Feeling inadequate about our own prayers, we use the words of others. If you use the Church’s official daily prayer or lyrical compositions by poetic authors, then perform a striptease of them! Pray naked. Pray in the naked simplicity of Adam BETA (before eating the apple) who in his daily dialogs with God simply visited about the events and the needs of his day
Naked, unprotected, exposed, vulnerable prayer is pleasing to God because it is like a small child’s prayer—and a sign of conviction. Ancient Celtic warriors went into battle against Roman legionaries stark naked. Their vulnerable nudity yelled loudly their belief that they were superior to the might of Imperial Rome.
Revisit with new eyes your bathroom. Unashamedly look upon your naked body as did Celtic warriors, or Adam (BETA), or those early Christians who after being plunged in the baptismal waters came out naked, yet gloriously clothed in Christ.