In the preceding blog post I shared several compelling reasons for actively engaging our bodies as we pray. While such actions as kneeling, bowing and lifting hands are commonly recognized as expressive forms of prayer, it has been my personal experience and observation that many people do not incorporate them into their daily practice of prayer.
Recently I have been experiencing a personal renewal in prayer and have been intentional about loving God in prayer “with all my heart, soul, mind and strength (body).”
The following is a summary of the things I am learning about each prayer posture. Hopefully it will stir a hunger in you to give them a try. So here are the 7 main ways recorded in the Bible that people, including Jesus, prayed.
1. Kneeling – This position expresses a reverence for God and seriousness of intent by the person praying. It is probably one of the most common ways people prayed and a key posture that can be used in focusing our petitions. Solomon knelt for a long period time with arms outstretched as he prayed his great prayer dedicating the temple. When he finished, fire fell from heaven. (2 Chronicles 6:13) Daniel knelt and prayed three times a day and we know the amazing results he experienced. (Daniel 6:10)
2. Bowing Low – This position expresses fervency and persistence in prayer. One of the best examples is Elijah when he was praying for rain on Mount Carmel. There he prayed seven times while “bowed low to the ground and praying with his face between his knees.” (1 Kings 18:42) We are told he was heard because of his earnest fervency. (James 5:17) In the gospels it is common to see people bowing low as they approached Jesus. It was an integral expression of the fervent requests they were bringing to Him.
3. Laying Prostrate – We see in scripture that when people took this position they were typically expressing their humility, utter desperateness and dependency upon God. Moses did it in intercession for Israel. (Deuteronomy 9:18) Jesus did it in the Garden of Gethsemane where we are told “He fell with His face to the ground and prayed.” (Matthew 26:39)
As a side note, this particular praying position is even viable when a person is in bed. “When I think of you in bed, I will meditate on you in the night watches.” (Psalm 63:6) So there you go, whether you are tossing and turning, or simply taking your leisure, you can pray effectively even while lying in bed.
4. Standing – This stance is used frequently in conjunction with more aggressive forms of prayer, such as spiritual warfare. It expresses the strength of our conviction and our firmness in insisting on God’s triumph over the enemy. Paul urges all of us, in the context of the call to war against principalities and powers, and putting on the full armor of God, “to stand firm” for the purpose of prayer. (Ephesian 6:13-14)
5. Walking – The beauty of this posture for prayer is its link to the idea of walking and communing with God. This was His original intention for His creation dating all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Adam walked with God communing with Him in the cool of the day. Enoch walked with God and their communion was so sweet that at the end of one walk, God decided to take Enoch home with Him. (Genesis 5:24) Prayer walks are great for dialoguing with God, especially when walking in nature.
6. Sitting – This posture is often associated with listening in stillness for God and enjoying His presence, as with contemplative and centering prayer. A picture I love is that of King David going into the tabernacle and simply sitting in God’s presence before the ark of the covenant. (2 Samuel 7:18)
7. Raising Hands and Eyes to Heaven – This posture expresses adoration, surrender and yielded dependence upon God, childlike faith and expectation. Numerous times the psalmists urge the worshipers of God to lift up their hands. Paul in the New Testament makes the same appeal: “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.” (1 Timothy 2:8) Jesus, in His praying, often lifted His eyes to His Father in heaven. He knew, as should we, that our help comes only from one place, and that is from above. (John 11:14 & 17:1, James 1:17)
I hope that your appetite has been whetted to give these different positions for prayer an earnest try. Why not experiment with them? If you are struggling with distractions and staying focused while you pray these are guaranteed to help.
I would be interested in your experience with these various expressions of prayer?
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