Held in the Light

J. Doyle Penrose's "Presence in the Midst"

J. Doyle Penrose’s “Presence in the Midst”

Something I have come to really appreciate that I have experienced during Quaker meeting is ‘holding someone in the Light’. Towards the end of some meetings, especially among the non-Evangelical variety, there is some time left for those in the meeting to name people that need to be held in the Light (and they often give reasons for why this is needed), and a moment of silence is given to do just that.

Now I cannot tell you what everybody is doing during that silence or how intercessory this practice is for those sharing this moment (especially in a meeting that may have nontheists), but I have heard a few people describe it as a practice of petitioning God by imagining those named consumed by Light.

A powerful aspect of this form of prayer is that you do not get into specifics and you are not trying to push a certain outcome out of God. All you are doing is trusting the Light with the one you love, hoping and believing that Love will have her way. In this way, it reminds me of a lot of the charismatic/Pentecostal practice of praying in tongues, or glossolalia. Those who pray in tongues often speak of not knowing what to say in prayer or having something in their spirit that needs to be spoken, though they are unable to cognitively understand what exactly that may be, so they submit their mouth to the Holy Spirit and allow her to speak forth what needs to be spoken in an unknown tongue.

The major difference is that one of these practices is almost completely imaginative and is a very focused, internal experience, whereas tongues-speaking is vocal and can even lead to a physical experience of the Spirit. That does not mean glossolalia is not at all an enriching experience for one’s interior life, for many who practice this ‘gift of the Spirit’ often incorporate visualization and actually make their devotional tongues a form of contemplative prayer.

As somebody who is charismatically-inclined, I do believe in the value of vocal prayer, both in one’s native tongue and in unknown spiritual languages. Though language is often limiting, it is important, especially if you believe your spiritual life is primarily built upon a relationship with God. Having said that, I admit that holding people in the Light has become a huge part of my own prayer life and has liberated many of my prayers from being fueled by anxiety and fear and taught me to trust even deeper.

Throughout the day I come before God holding people in the Light, placing them in God’s hands, believing that Love will have her way. I even hold myself in the Light throughout the day, receiving the free gift of God’s presence wherever I am, believing that I am embraced and cared for constantly and unconditionally. It’s centering; it helps me see life through the lens of the God who is love, it postures my heart to love more fully, and sanctifies my imagination. I don’t know if I am ‘holding people in the Light’ the right way–afterall, I am an amateur Quaker–but I know I benefit from it greatly and it’s another reason I am thankful for these 11-months of Quaker immersion.

6 thoughts on “Held in the Light

  1. Shan R. says:

    Have said nonsense — or words i do not know meanings to– as I am lead many times. Not something I often share with other Quakers but it fits into my Quaker Faith and Patrice as a liberal programed friend. 🙂


  2. I find that when I lay hands on someone to pray for them I get what I believe is the interpretation of tongues after praying silently for them in tongues. Then I repeat that prayer out loud for the benefit of the prayee.


    • The gift of interpretation for messages in tongues has been incredibly edifying for me. I cannot claim I tap into this grace much, but those around me have understood the things I have spoken in tongues and have delivered painfully relevant messages that were much needed in my life. I am very thankful for interpreters like yourself.


    • I have, and have experienced it to some degree. To be honest, I got kind of bitter for the lack of ‘results’ in that department. But to pray with both mind and spirit is important, I suppose 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement.


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