Sunday, May 15, 2016

All I Really Need to Know about Prayer I Learned from Snyder’s of Hanover*

            There are many possible and permissible prayer postures and positions. The Bible depicts people standing, kneeling, and flat on their faces. Bowed heads, closed eyes, and folded hands seem important to us nowadays. Some families hold hands for table grace; whether to display love and unity or to keep young Petey from flinging mashed potatoes at sister Patty, I don’t know.

Prayer Braid
            At our prayer retreat a few weeks ago, we learned we could pray while walking a labyrinth (or anywhere), coloring, or kneading clay. I found the braiding prayer most meaningful. While intertwining three varied strips of cloth, I prayed for myself, my husband, our relationship with each other, and our relationship with God together. Ironically, the God cloth turned out to be shorter than the husband and wife cloths, so at the bottom of a strong braid, two untethered fabrics were left hanging, disconnected from each other and the center. 

            Most of my praying currently takes place in a Purple PT Cruiser in between home and school five mornings a week. Don’t worry—I keep my eyes open and my hands on the steering wheel. And if you’re my student or my coworker, you’ve got to be relieved that I’ve had both prayer and coffee before arriving at school. I could be much, much worse.
            But this morning in Sunday School, after we shared concerns and the pastor said, “Let’s pray,” my hands and arms formed the pretzel position, perhaps because I was chilly. I’d heard that pretzels were shaped that way to teach children what to do with their hands while praying. The History Channel website includes that legend and explains more:

Though the exact origins of the pretzel remain mysterious, legend has it that the story began around A.D. 610, when Italian monks presented their young students with treats of baked dough twisted in the shape of crossed arms. At the time, crossing one’s arms was the traditional posture for prayer. [It was chilly in those stone monasteries, too!] As the custom spread through medieval Europe, the pretzel’s three holes came to represent the Holy Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and the twisty baked good became associated with good luck, long life and prosperity. (
            I like the Trinity connection, but admit to skepticism about good luck, long life, and prosperity. From a pretzel? Maybe a chocolate dipped pretzel. Not that I’d turn down good luck, long life, and prosperity. Or a chocolate dipped pretzel.

A product of my adopted state
            The History Channel article also reveals that German immigrants brought pretzels to Pennsylvania in 1710, and today my adopted state** produces eighty percent of made-in-the-U.S.A. pretzels. One of the more than sixty pretzel makers in Pennsylvania is Snyder’s of Hanover, founded in 1909. 

            Theirs was the first name that came to mind this morning when I realized I was praying like a pretzel. So they get some free advertising, and hopefully they’re not offended by prayer and they’re not going to report my blog to the ACLU. (Although, any publicity is good publicity.)

            After my overly lengthy introduction, I will now tell you what I realized while praying like a pretzel this morning: 

 Prayer is like a warm hug from God. 

* First, let me acknowledge the founder of the All I Really Need to Know format, Robert Fulghum, who learned it all in Kindergarten.

* Secondly, in addition to Snyder’s of Hanover, I have learned much about prayer from Mr. Roberts, the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, church, and several books. Most recently, I studied the Red Letter Prayer Life by Bob Hostetler with a small group of church friends, and I highly recommend it.

**My native state produces one hundred percent of all the Shriver's Salt Water Taffy made in the U.S.A. I highly recommend it, too. 
A product of my native state


  1. Inspirational and informative post--although I am suddenly craving pretzels. . . .

  2. I liked the prayer braid the best also... And my best prayer times are in my car on the way to work!!!