Throughout the Bible, we see various forms of posture used in prayer. This chapter will look at some examples of four positions we can take before God with our prayers. All are acceptable, and I am hoping you will be able to see how each is used for specific types of prayer. This chapter enriched my prayer life because I can now understand that value of bowing, kneeling, falling on my face, or standing before the Lord with my requests. At times, I use all of these methods to communicate with God. Let’s get started!
I want to take a moment here to explain that I believe worship and praise is also a form of prayer, because it is communicating with God just as making requests is. Worship and praise are the ways we thank God and show Him our devotion. After all, in these moments we are talking to God, lifting up our voices to let Him know our thoughts and feelings. That is His favorite type of communication from us! He loves to hear our requests as well, but more than anything, He loves to hear us praise Him. These various positions in prayer also include an attitude and posture of worship and praise.
Perhaps you never looked at praise and worship that way. I know I didn’t for a long time. I hope you will now see it as a sensitive and joyous time of prayer, very different from what we normally think prayer is. Having this mindset can really invigorate our prayer life – our communication with God.
Bowing before God puts us in an attitude of reverence before the Lord. We should always approach Him with awe and wonder. Sometimes I feel we have brought God down too low, not understanding or acknowledging just how mighty and powerful He is. We’ve lost the awe and fear that was so apparent in Old Testament times, especially during the time of Moses. God was so real then, leading them with fire by night and a cloud by day. Can you imagine that?
Putting God back in His rightful position in our lives should be a priority with all of us. Bowing before Him as our King and Lord is a good start.
Abraham wanted to find a suitable wife for his son Isaac so he sent a servant back to his homeland to find that wife. The servant prayed that God would send the woman to him with specific words that she would say. When the servant came to a well, Rebekkah fulfilled the words that the servant had prayed to hear. After she did, Gen 24:26 says “2Then the man bowed down and worshiped the LORD” He was humbled and in awe that God would hear and answer His prayer, so he bowed down in thanksgiving to God.
Exodus 4:31 King James Version (KJV)
31 And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.
Moses had been gone for 40 years, and he returns to tell the people that God had heard their cries and was going to deliver them. Can you imagine their excitement and their awe for God? Their immediate reaction was to bow before the Lord to worship Him in thanksgiving for His mercy. Wouldn’t you be amazed if God delivered you after 400 years of bondage through someone you thought was dead and gone? How amazing is our God?
In Exodus 12:27 the people bowed and worshipped when the Passover was announced. In Exodus 34:8, Moses bowed his head and worshipped when God met him on Mt Sanai to give the Ten Commandments.
We are told in Phil 2:10-11 that one day,
“at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
I would prefer to bow now and acknowledge Him in reverence and awe. He is an amazing God! And in that day, I will bow before Him once again, rejoicing that He has saved me and had mercy on me.
Kneeling before the Lord is a posture of humility. We humble ourselves before Him because He has given us such undeserved mercy. His grace has washed over us like a soothing river, bringing with it His peace, His joy, His hope and all the blessings He bestows on us. When we kneel before Him in prayer, it is an acknowledgement that He alone can supply our needs.
1 Kings 8:54 King James Version (KJV)
54 And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.
Solomon had just completed building the temple, and was at the altar bringing his prayers and supplications to the Lord for not only the temple, but for the whole nation. He was kneeling at the altar, knowing only God could bring an answer to this prayer. I can just picture Solomon in my mind, knelt before he altar with his hands raised to heaven! Can you see him? What a glorious posture to take before God. We see this again in 2 Chr 6:13.
Ezra 9:5 King James Version (KJV)
5 And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God,
The people had committed sin by intermarrying with the people around them instead of marrying Israelite spouses. Ezra had rent his clothes and was distraught, but he came out of that and came before the Lord, kneeling and lifting his hands to God. He prayed a prayer of supplication to God for the nation and the people. A heartfelt prayer of repentance is fitting when we kneel before our creator.
Luke 22:41 King James Version (KJV)
41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
Jesus kneels and prayer sin the Garden, a prayer of supplication to God that the cup might pass from Him. Also a prayer of humility, that God’s will must be done, not His.
We also see kneeling in prayer in Daniel 6:10 when Daniel prayed despite the Kings’ edict. In Acts 7:60, Stephen kneels down and asks God to forgive those who stoned him. Kneeling in prayer is taking a posture of humility when we come before him with our supplications. He has a ready ear to hear our cry.
FALLING ON OUR FACE BEFORE GOD
Falling down before the Lord is a sign of surrender, as you probably guess. It is a position of giving your all to Him and letting Him have His way. When we fall before Him, it is a combination of kneeling and bowing, which signifies humility and reverence. This goes one step further, though. We are as low as we can go, and acknowledge that He is the only one who can lift us up. It is total dependence on God.
Deuteronomy 9:18 King James Version (KJV)
18 And I fell down before the LORD, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.
You certainly can see the desperation Moses felt during this time before the Lord. This is the only record in the Bible, outside of Jesus in the wilderness, where someone went this length of time without water or bread. He was giving all he had to God to ask for His mercy because of the sins of he people. Have you ever fallen down before God for a long period of time? I can remember times when I lay before the Lord for an hour or two, but 40 days?
When Korah rose up against Moses, we see that Moses fell down before the Lord twice during that ordeal (Num 16:4 & 22). This was a difficult time for Moses, and he had to depend totally on God to bring him through it.
Joshua 5:14 King James Version (KJV)
14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant?
Joshua and all of Israel were getting ready to attack Jericho. Joshua was alone looking over Jericho and when he looked up, he saw a man with his sword drawn. Joshua asked if he man was for him or against him. You can see the response above. What would be your reaction if an angel of the Lord appeared before you? I would fall on my face in total surrender. What else would there be to do?
In the Revelation, Jesus appears before John and John falls flat on his face, as if he was dead (Rev 1:17). The magnificence of Christ was too much for him to bear. The glory of he Lord is a powerful thing. I think we forget that.
Numbers 20:6, Lev 9:24 and 1 Kings 18:39 all show us instances where a large group of people fell before the Lord because they were confronted by His glory. There are many times I have been in services where we ask God to send down His glory, and I just wonder to myself if we really understand what would happen if He did. We would not be able to stand in such an atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when the atmosphere in a service is overpowering. The Holy Spirit can move in such a place, and feeling His presence is awesome, to say the least. But to feel the full weight of His glory coming into a service would have us all on our faces before him.
There are very few instances of people actually standing and praying to God, but what we see tells us that this position has some redeeming qualities. It is a position of boldness, unlike the other three that show reverence, submission and humility. We will look at two examples before we close this chapter.
Mark 11:25 King James Version (KJV)
25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
Forgiveness takes boldness, mixed with humility. Have you ever had to forgive someone who doesn’t know you have something against them? First you have to summon the boldness to approach them and tell them you have been holding something against them. Then in humility. you have to ask their forgiveness for your feelings. We must forgive from deep down inside, in an attitude or prayer. God doesn’t forgive us and remember – He removes our sin as far as the east is from the west. When we forgive, we should do the same.
Luke 18:11 King James Version (KJV)
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
The boldness of the Pharisee is apparent. This is not a good position prayer. This is a proud position, and we should never take such a position with God. Of course it is OK to pray standing up – we can take any position in prayer. Just make sure you do it with all the reverence, humility and surrender you can muster up. You are not petitioning your boss at work, or a police officer or someone with earthly authority. You are petitioning the Creator of all things, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This honor should never be taken lightly.
One more note. I love to lift my hands to God in times of worship. I would guess some of you do, and some don’t. The bible mentions raising the hands in worship many times. David, Moses, Solomon, Jeremiah, Paul and others all mention lifting hands to the Lord. To many it is a sign of surrender to God, to others it is a sign of giving oneself to Him. I often have these feelings when I lift my hands.
Most of the time, I get a picture of a young child lifting up his hands to his father, looking up at his face with adoration, wanting to be picked up and held. This is what I envision when I lift my hands to God – Heavenly Father, pick me up and hold me! I love you!
We are about done with this section on how to pray. Next, we will be looking at the most well-known prayer to all of us – the Lord’s Prayer. Join us!