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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What Posture Should Be Used for Prayer?

If I say, "Let us pray," I can count on everyone in the room bowing their heads. Most will also close their eyes. I don't have to tell them to assume the position of prayer. I wonder if we have taken prayer for granted and the bowing of the head is more of a ritual than an act of humility. I wonder how many people listen as others pray. I wonder how many join in the prayers of others as they pray.

No, you don't have to bow your head or close your eyes to pray. I told Jesus I needed Him (as my Savior) while I was driving a 1966 Mustang. I neither bowed my head nor closed my eyes. I might have met Jesus in a very different way that afternoon if I had closed my eyes. The Bible records several different postures while people prayed.

Standing while praying:

Mark 11:25 (ESV)
25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

Bowing and kneeling while praying:

Psalm 95:6 (ESV)
6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

Prostrate while praying:

Matthew 26:39 (ESV)
39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 

Spreading out hands while praying:

Isaiah 1:15 (ESV)
15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.

Looking upward while praying:

John 11:41 (ESV)
41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.

While I realize that the posture the people praying took reflected the position they assumed in their hearts toward God, I don't believe that a certain position was necessary for them to pray. I was driving when I asked to know Jesus. My heart was prostrate but my body was sitting up driving a car.

Thus, you may pray with eyes opened on closed. You may pray standing, sitting or lying prostrate on your face. You may look up or bow your head. You may kneel. You do not have to assume any posture but there is a likelihood that the position of the body may fully reveal the position of the heart.

I often am asked to pray with people. I like to take their hands because I want to physically touch them as I pray. I want to make a connection with them. I want them to know that I am not merely saying some words but am joining them in their prayer. I often ask people to join me in prayer. I usually say, "Pray with me." I am not concerned with whether or not people have bowed their heads. I truly believe that we are gathered in His name and join together in order to have Him among us. Nothing says that I or anyone else has to assume a posture in order for that to happen.

So, pray while driving but don't close your eyes.

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