A prayer for handwashing

I don’t know about you, but in this house we’re washing our hands like we’ve never washed them before. We lather up, sing Amazing Grace (one verse), Sizohambe Naye (both verses) or God is loving and love is giving (twice through), then rinse and dry thoroughly. It’s lovely to sing as we scrub, but given shutdown has made it impossible for us to experience many of the usual physical rituals of our faith, I wondered how we could turn handwashing into a more intentional spiritual practice.

I had lots of clever ideas … but after seventeen interruptions from children learning from home, I went with simple. I figured I need a prayer which takes about twenty seconds to say aloud, and which I can stick above a handbasin. So I wrote a collect. A collect is a formal prayer which addresses God, names a facet of God’s nature or story; names a desire or petition; and explains why this desire or petition is being made. This collect takes me about 23 seconds to recite at moderate speed: just enough to kill any COVID-19 virus lingering on my hands.

Forgiving Jesus: You watched Pilate wash his hands of responsibility for your death, and you forgave him. Every time we wash our hands, help us remember our baptism. Help us remember that we are forgiven; help us to forgive. Because you watched, and you forgave, not only Pilate, but every one of us. Amen.

(Matthew 27:24; Palm/Passion A / Holy Week Saturday ABC)

Perhaps this simple prayer might inspire you to write a collect of your own. What aspect of handwashing reminds you of something from Scripture? Follow the model, have a go, and send me your efforts – perhaps I’ll include it in a later post!


Emailed to Sanctuary, 22 April 2020 © Alison Sampson, 2020. Image credit: Mélissa Jeanty on Unsplash.


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