Prayer postures

05/10/17 Farmville Enterprise

In my first fifty years of life I barely thought a thing about prayer postures, hardly ever considering the padded kneeling benches we used each week at Mass when I was a child. Since college my experience with praying basically had involved either sitting or standing with my hands clasped or down at my sides.

Two years ago in studying the Old Testament book of Ezra, a particular verse struck me. “Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God and prayed.” (Ezra 9:5) Nehemiah wrote that “Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, ‘Amen! Amen!’ Then they bowed down and worshiped with the Lord with their faces to the ground.” (Nehemiah 8:6)

Throughout Scripture we see people praying in different physical postures: standing, kneeling, sitting down, lying prostrate, and lifting hands.

Hannah said to Eli the priest, “As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:26) Jesus instructed, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive that person, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25)

Many times in the Bible we read of people on bended knees in prayer. “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to God, just as he had done before.” (Daniel 6:10) “Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayer. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up.” (Acts 9:40)

There are some examples of believers praying while seated. “King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said: ‘Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?’” (2 Samuel 7:18)

Praying while prostrate shows an attitude of humility and submission. “Going a little further, he [Jesus] fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’” (Matthew 26:39)

Finally, the Apostle Paul wrote “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.” (1 Timothy 2:8)

Last week at Bible Study Rachel demonstrated three of her preferred prayer postures. One involved standing with the palms of her hands together and stretched up to the sky. At our wonderful Farmville United at the Cross service both The Reverend Steve Dunn and Eldress Carolyn Ward enthusiastically noted how fine it is that Christians express themselves in a variety of prayer and worship styles. The posture of the heart is what truly matters.

 

1 thought on “Prayer postures

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