A Prayer for Handwashing

Yesterday I was more insistent than usual that my grandchildren wash their hands before eating after school snack.

Lily (9) asked, “Is this because of Corona Virus, Nana.”

I answered clearly, “Yes. And to do all we can to keep everyone healthy.”

As I washed my own hands today it struck me what a potent global practice we are engaging on behalf of one another. One could foster fear amidst this washing. Or compulsion. Or the illusion of control. Or one could pray.

There are ritual prayers for handwashing in many traditions. Here is a teaching on cleansing before prayer in Islam. Here is handwashing prayer in the Jewish tradition.

There is a lovely chant for these words in Hebrew which name the Divine Ruach/Spirit rather than Melech/King:

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Ruach ha’olam

asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu al netilat yadayim.

Blessed are You, Infinite One, Spirit/Breath,

who makes us holy through our actions

and honors us as we raise up our hands.

Thank you.


Here is the prayer that emerged for me:

God, wash from us the dis-ease of fear,

the grasp and the grip of greed.

Christ, cleanse us, amidst chaos,

of contamination, contagion and callousness.

Spirit, strengthen in us the soul

of sanity, sincerity and service.

In Oneness. In Love. In Hope. May it be so.

What if we were praying this, with each handwashing, aware of our global community of need and strength? What if we rinsed away the contagion of fear? What if we relinquished and resisted spreading habits that destroy? What if we intentionally opened to our role in compassion and healing? What transformation might be at hand? What Hope?

This-is-How-Muslims-Clean-Before-PrayerPrayer while washing hands in Islam.