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How can we worship with all our senses?

The body is just a part of the soul blessed with five senses.

Sensates: Loving God with the Senses
Sensates are moved more by a sensuous worship experience than by anything else. By sensuous we are referring to the five senses: taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight. When we embrace the use of the senses— which God created, after all—we open up entirely new avenues of worship. God created our senses, enjoyment through the senses was his idea. Sensates experience God in concrete, visible, palpable symbols. They see God in beauty, are creative and artistic and enjoy God’s creation.


Bodily movement could be increased by bringing back the traditions of kneeling for prayer and crossing oneself. Crossing oneself has a two-fold purpose: to remind one of one’s baptism and the commitment that we are making to Christ and to also reminds us that one is entering a sacred place that is set apart from the world outside. We are told to kneel, O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! – Psalm 95:6 and “At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bend.” – Philippians 2:10

When taking communion I have gone from standing to kneeling and I prefer to kneel as it does feel more reverential it also allows you to linger as you don’t have quickly get out the way to let the next person in. I also knelt to pray during the last service and it was good in the reverential feeling but also in using the whole body to break up the service.


Anglo-Catholic – in the Anglo Catholic liturgy we engage all our senses in the worship of God. Symbols and signs help us point our minds to the invisible in ways that are richer than words alone. …Incense symbolises three aspects of our worship. It signifies the presence of God; it is a symbol of prayer and it is a sign of offering. The rising of the smoke signifies our prayers rising up to God and its perfumed smell evokes a sense of God’s presenceas the psalmist says in Psalm 141 ‘Let my prayer rise before you like incense’

Eastern Othodox – Incense truly sanctifies the seductive power of perfume! With it, the church forges in us a permanent emotional bond to the liturgy. Its positive influence is probably much greater than anyone suspects, as it works upon us so subconsciously – so different from liturgical texts and painted icons, whose meaning must be cognitively understood to be of much benefit. Rather incense is akin to the sound of bells – we never know what it
means, but it pierces instantly to our hearts, and awakens in us an unexpected joy.

Roman Catholic – As Catholics, we express our worship of Almighty God in words and gestures. The burning of incense is a prayer in itself; a prayer in action. Furthermore, for Catholics prayer is action, and that action becomes ever more present through the visual and sensory experience of incense…Not only does the smoke symbolize the prayers of the faithful drifting up to heaven, incense actually creates the ambiance of heaven. …incense connects us to God’s altar in heaven and allows us to utilize all of our senses in our prayer…Incense helps to support an atmosphere of solemnity and beauty that is fitting to the greatest gift given by Christ to His Church, and the highest prayer the Church has to offer to God: the True Worship of God the Father as offered by Christ on His Cross. It helps us to understand that at Mass we enter into and are united with
the worship offered God in Heaven by His Angels and Saints. If we are told, after all, that the angels stand amid clouds of incense singing God’s praise in heaven, why shouldn’t they do the same gathered around the altar, as they are, singing God’s praise during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?


Personally, I find the use of art helpful. In my personal devotions I will occasionally draw how I am feeling in my soul (mind, emotion etc) and relationship with God. The use of colour is significant here. Grays and blacks appear when feelings of depression or burden are felt. Yellow and vibrant colours such as red, orange and light green express life, hope and energy.

Another expression of colour and art that nourishes me are banners in churches. I’ve often been touched by and paused to ‘take in’ the message and colour of banners and other visual prompts. For example, recently I had that experience while at St.Pauls cathedral in the city (Melb), when I stopped to look at a huge balloon type structure depicting the earth which was hanging at the front of the church.

Praying in color

Getting prayerfully creative and using doodles, color, words, pictures as a way of expressing what is in your heart and seeking connection with God
It is a visual, concrete and lasting way to pray
It is useful if there are no words for prayer
The Vineyard church has coloring books and pencils available to pray in color, they can be found in binders on the stand with the sermon handouts and bibles.


When we think of senses we generally think of sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. So I don’t know where this one fits in but, fasting. I first fast I did was the 2nd of January to mark Jesus’s circumcision. The book of common prayer says it is a fast day so I did. Wasn’t as hard as I was expecting but interesting.

In the article, ’10 Biblical Purposes for Fasting’, I focus on number nine, 9. To overcome temptation and dedicate yourself to God (e.g., see Matthew 4:1 – 11)
Fasting can help us focus when we are struggling with particular temptations. When I started the six weeks of lent I chose the abstinence to be hard enough so that I would have to struggle with temptation but not so hard that it was impossible. The Muslims during Ramadan abstain from eating while the sun is up for a month to bring themselves closer to God so I chose to abstain from eating after 1 pm, so nothing after lunch, and no alcohol. In the end I think I got the balance right as I had to struggle with temptation especially in the last weeks. I used prayer to calm my mind when tempted and made a habit of reading the bible in the morning and evening. So lent was used by me to overcome temptation and dedicate myself to God. I did stumble a few times but overall the experience was extremely positive. One of the nicest features of lent is that it doesn’t apply on Sundays as that is God’s day which we can enjoy as a feast day, which after denying yourself all week was an absolute joy. I also lost 6 kg of weight which was a nice bonus.

Not many people fast today and I haven’t noticed the church encouraging it, I can only assume that it has been relegated to the past, which is a shame. The old rituals and practices, like fasting, were developed by the church because they found that it help bring us closer to God. Nowadays we feel that we know better. Fasting is one practice that needs to be brought back because it is an example of God knowing our character and knowing what is best for us.

Fasting is also an a act of isolating from the worldly. In a consumer culture lent is an escape even a rebellion, where for once we deny ourselves instead on indulging. The world can exploit Christmas and Easter to make a dollar but lent offers no way to make money from so it gets ignored. Maybe even discouraged because we are to be good consumers.

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