Most Protestants dismiss the sign of the cross as “a Catholic thing,” but Nathan Bierma, a writer for Christianity Today, urges his fellow Protestants to take another look at this ancient gesture of prayer. Bierma reviews two new books: Bert Ghezzi’s The Sign of the Cross: Rediscovering the Power of the Ancient Prayer and The Sign of the Cross: The Gesture, the Mystery, the History by Andrew Andreopoulos. “After reading these two books, this previously ignorant Protestant, for one, has decided to introduce the sign of the cross into his daily prayer, as a link with the early church, a sign of God’s claim on me, and a reminder of the mystery of the Trinity,” he writes.
Bierma makes this shrewd point about prayer:
Whether we practice it or not, the sign of the cross is one manifestation of how physical—how embodied—worship really is. It can be as simple as raising our hands during a praise song, sitting up straight when the first few chords of a hymn are struck, or closing our eyes and folding our hands to pray. All of these motions have become ingrained in our body language of worship. Like the sign of the cross, they contain great potential for physical demonstration and remembrance of a deeper meaning—and also great potential for becoming so routine that eventually we do them out of mere habit—or worse, for show.