Praying Namaste in Church


Someone once asked me if I believe that God still speaks to us in words, out loud, like it seems like he must have done in Biblical times.

I said I thought he mostly used his People, full of his Spirit, to talk for him these days, but that I didn’t rule out his audible voice being able to speak to us. I just had never experienced it.


This week, a dear friend was struggling with how to deal with an interpersonal relationship. The relationship is awkward and hard and there aren’t guide books for how to relate to other people well.

I usually replay old conversations in my head and imagine I had said funnier or smarter or kinder or more honest things until I practically drive myself mad. The loud swirling of should-haves drowns out the reality I am choosing right this moment.

In other words, I am still learning how to love others well.

And so when my friend asked for prayer, I prayed the very first prayer that popped into my head for dealing with other people when they aren’t being easy (as if they ever are). If God has ever spoken to me, this was it. I honestly thought I had heard this prayer in church somewhere.

“May the Spirit of God in me recognize the Image of God in you.”


When I lived in Mexico, there was a woman in our neighborhood who opened her garage on Saturday mornings and made tortillas for a few pesos a kilo. The first time I went, I bought a kilo of tortillas, which may be a lifetime supply if they didn’t get moldy so quickly. Soon, tortillas became a weekly habit (though I also learned I only needed a quarter kilo).

One day, I was walking home from the store, laden with groceries and sweating profusely when I saw a woman walking on the other side of the road. She smiled and waved, and I knew her face but I could not place her. I tried to recall if perhaps she was the mother of one of my students, or someone from church, but it took nearly until I got all the way home before I realized that it was the tortilla lady! I had never seen her outside of her garage before.


This prayer felt familiar like that- familiar in a way that felt safe and welcoming, but I could not place where it came from.

“May the Spirit of God in me recognize the Image of God in you.”


I Googled to no avail, until finally, finally, it hit me.


The divine light in me honors the divine light in you.

I knew this prayer from yoga class. Sure, I’d added my own twist, but the heartbeat of the prayer wasn’t Christ at all.

And yet, I think perhaps it is.

Perhaps the fact that anyone has ever recognized and honored divine light in anyone else is because God imbued us with divine light, because even those who do not know the name of Christ cannot escape being shaped in his image.


The people that I have the hardest time loving are also those that I have the hardest time seeing the divine light in, but I think I’ve been thinking about it backwards all along.

It’s not that I do not see the image of God in them because I do not love them

I do not love them because I do not recognize and honor the image of God in them.

And so this prayer, Namaste, it is what needs to be changed in my heart.

Namaste can be used to elevate others to the position of God, rather than his image. But that’s not what I’m praying for, and that’s not the problem I have.

I don’t tend to think of people as so perfect that I should probably worship them.

Instead, I tend to think of people as so broken that there is nothing beautiful or lovely in them.

I give up on difficult cases. I’m flaky and often unreliable, especially with those who are harder for me to love.

But the Spirit of God in me acknowledges the image of God in them, and the image of God can only ever be beautiful and lovely.

So I pray Namaste in church, even if it’s not exactly kosher.


May the Spirit of God in me recognize the Image of God in you. And may the Spirit of God in you have grace for the image of God in me, please and amen.


Photo by Emilie Houwat, via flickr.

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  1. Betsy Henning · · Reply


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