Positioning yourself for effective prayer

Probably the most common struggle that people have in attempting a focused, sustained and meaningful prayer time is dealing with distractions associated with a wandering mind.  Throughout the ages, one of the great secrets for engaging in effective prayer has been connected to the position a person chooses to assume while praying.  By position I mean the posture or attitude our body takes while we communicate our innermost thoughts through prayer to God.

While we commune with God out of our spirit through both words and sighs too deep for words, there is also an important role our bodies can and should play in expressing our prayers.  In a very real sense this is a tangible expression of loving the Lord our God through prayer “with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (body).”

Kneeling in PrayerThe more that prayer can engage the entirety of who we are, spirit, soul and body, the more focused and engaged we will be – and in the end the more effective our prayer times will be.   When we exercise our body by taking appropriate prayer positions as we express our hearts to Him, we are making our body, His temple, a holy habitation of worship for His glory and praise.

Practically, what are these prayer positions?  Throughout the scriptures both in the Old and New Testaments we see prayer combined with a great variety of postures.  We find people praying while standing, sitting, kneeling, bowing low, laying prostrate and even walking.  We also see people in these various positions having their heads and eyes lifted toward heaven or bowed with eyes cast down to the ground.  In many instances we see that those praying have their hands lifted up and extended to the heavens.

Whatever the posture taken or positions of the hands or head, the one thing we notice is that it becomes a natural expression and extension of the attitude of heart with which we are seeking to communicate with God.  While we know the most important thing to God is what is in a person’s heart, it is nonetheless notable that He and the writers of the scripture also recorded the attitude expressed in prayer by the pray-er’s bodies.

It has now been more than a month since I made a commitment to significantly intensify my prayer life. In addition to incorporating a rhythm of praying three times a day and extending the length of my prayer times, I have also been experimenting with different types of prayer coupled with the use of multiple prayer postures.  The main reason for intentionally making it a priority to incorporate the whole spectrum of positions appropriate to the type of prayers that I am praying has been twofold.  First, as I was studying the great prayers and pray-ers in the Bible it became clear that standing, kneeling, bowing, hands raised etc. were inextricably tied to effective, anointed prayer.  Second, it was sparking in me a growing hunger to see my prayers be more effective and I could not help but surmise, since most of my praying has been from a sitting position,  that to be more biblical in my praying I should get off my duff, and be more demonstrative in expressing my prayer with action.  What I have discovered has revolutionized my prayer life.  The immediate benefits which I have noticed is that praying in this way has helped me focus and put aside distractions as never before.  And even better, it has released new levels of faith and confidence that I am genuinely connecting with God.

In my next blog I will outline the 7 main ways people in the Bible prayed using their bodies to express what was in their hearts and on their lips.  They have inspired me and my hope is that in considering the implications for each, they will also inspire you in your personal prayer times.  Stay tuned.

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2 thoughts on “Positioning yourself for effective prayer”

  1. Thanks for these thoughts, Tom. Reading this post also reminded me of a book one of my good friends gave me in college. It’s called “Make Space, Make Symbols.” The author encouraged the use of sacred space and symbols in prayer.

    So, I’m looking at my basement a little differently this morning, wondering how I might arrange a few stations that would help guide me in prayer. I like the idea of moving through the room and having space to enter into prayer more physically.


    I started a blog a few months ago, and I’m in the process of blogging my way through The Bible’s story in 2013. Feel free to stop by http://www.bigstoryguide.wordpress.com. I’ve been posting on Monday and Friday mornings.

  2. Dave, Thank you for the comment and adding some further insight and inspiration to help deepen our prayer lives. I like the idea you suggest of also using symbols. I want to check out the book you mentioned. It also reminds me of the book by Gary Thomas on “Sacred Pathways” in which he explores the variety of ways that different people connect with God. I took a look at your blog and found it to be a helpful tool, as you intend, to draw people into the Big Story. It appears as you develop it that it will be a great resource. Good work. Blessings – Tom

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