Did you know that the position or posture in which you pray can be a prayer in and of itself? Some of us learned to pray in a certain position and only feel prayerful when in that position. Let’s take a look at some of the prayer postures and examine what they should mean. At the end I hope you will think about other postures and incorporate them into your prayer time.
1. Praying with our heads bowed
2. Praying in a kneeling position
3. Praying with our eyes closed
4. Praying with our eyes uplifted
5. Praying with hands uplifted
6. Praying while we walk
When we kneel or bow our heads or both, we should be expressing our humility before the Lord. The imagery is that of a subject coming into the presence of a king. The subject would kneel, bow his head and yield to the wish of the king – even if the king’s wish was to put the subject to death. In this position the back of the subject’s neck was exposed to the king. If he so desired, the king could take a sword and remove the subject’s head by striking the back of the neck.
Do you present yourself to the King of Kings in this kind of humility. Making no claims even of life, we should say as Job:
Though he slay me, I will hope in him.
(Job 13:15 ESV)
The apostle Paul also speaks of this kind of humility,
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
(Romans 12:1 ESV)
Our bodies are to be presented to God as a living sacrifice. If God so chooses, he can take our life. This is a perfect posture for praying prayers of confession and repentance.
When we pray with our eyes closed, it might also represent the same thing as when we kneel and/or bow our heads. It also should be a way for us to shut out all of the worldly influences and focus our minds and hearts upon the Lord. Practically, we might need a bit of encouraging with regard to this. For some, closing the eyes too closely resembles going to sleep. If we are not careful, we might become sleepy or daydream. Focus. Exert all of your mental strength into focusing on God and who he is rather than letting your mind drift or tire.
When we pray with our eyes and/or hands lifted, we should be acknowledging the praise-worthiness of God. We are saying that he is above us. He is high and lofty. I remember the days when a person who raised their hands to praise God was looked upon as somebody strange. Hopefully that no longer exists.
Jesus made it a habit to pray with his eyes lifted up. He did this when he blessed the bread and fish to feed the 5000.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.
(Matthew 14:19 ESV)
On at least two occasions, Jesus lifted his eyes when he performed a miracle. While we may not have the miraculous power which Jesus had (not that we can’t pray for miracles, we don’t inherently have that power like he did), we can mimic why he did this. He was honoring the Father and demonstrating that the Father was working through him.
And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.
(Mark 7:34-35 ESV)
So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
(John 11:41-44 ESV)
In this final example from Jesus, we find him praying as the time for his crucifixion was at hand. He looked to heaven because of the intimacy between the Father and the Son.
When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,
(John 17:1 ESV)
We should be reminded of the intimacy we have with the Father. We are able to call him Abba. He dwells in us. He loves us. When we express our love for him, we can lift our eyes upward in adoration.
The final posture is that of praying while we walk. Note: don’t combine this with praying with your eyes closed. The results might not be prayerful.
To pray while we walk should help us be mindful that we are to walk with the Lord. As we go about our day, we should be speaking with God. We ask for his advice. We pray for his wisdom. We praise him. We intercede for others in need of God. Walking in prayer pretty well encompasses whatever other positions in which you might find yourself. Sitting in a chair, lying in a bed…praying like this is walking with the Lord.
We can also use walking in prayer as a means of praying for specific geographical areas. In recent years, Christians have embarked upon Prayer Walks. They walk through a neighborhood or city while praying for God’s blessings on that area. It is a pretty good idea.
Pick one of the postures from the list above. Make it one which you have not used before or have not used it in some time. Spend some time in prayer. I welcome any comments about what you experience.