Is our physical posture in prayer important to God? Is kneeling, folded hands, head down, eyes closed, the most reverent way to pray?
In this episode, Nathan tackles this often asked question and explains how the spiritual posture in prayer is more important than the physical posture of prayer.
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The Physical Posture in Prayer
For many people, the proper posture in prayer is one of physical reverence – often defined as kneeling or, especially for kids, eyes closed with heads bowed and hands folded.
And while all these physical postures can be helpful, the Bible doesn’t give a formula for a correct physical form.
So while you may choose to kneel, lie face down with hands outstretched, sit in a chair, or pace back-and-forth, we need to remember that the physical posture is to help us focus and remove distractions.
Leonard Ravenhill used to talk about Edward Payson who was a man of prayer. For Payson, kneeling at the side of his bed was how he best communed with God. Ravenhill writes about Payson:
“Edward Payson, better known as Praying Payson of Portland, was another great prayer warrior. He used to kneel at the side of his bed and pray, and pray, and pray. When they washed his body for burial, they found great big pads on his knees like a camel has. … When they were washing him, somebody said, “What abnormal knees. They’re heavy with callouses.” That’s because he used to pray at the side of his bed with energy – and he wore two grooves about six or seven inches long into that hard floor where he used to pray and make intercession.”
The key concept for the physical posture in prayer is: engage in prayer in whatever way helps you remove distractions and focus on communicating with the King of kings.
This is also true when applied to music. If background music helps you focus, use it. If it distracts, turn it off.
The Spiritual Posture in Prayer
More important than your physical posture in prayer, is how you come into prayer – your “spiritual posture.”
We need to approach God with trust and faith as we “come boldly into the throne room of grace” (Hebrews 4:16). We must know His character and attributes, the “WHOM” we are praying to, and we must place our hope, trust, and faith in Him.
Prayer is not merely spouting words to the heavens, rather it is an intimate conversation with the Living God. As such, we need to know Who we pray to. Just as it changes what and how I say when I converse with a good friend verses a stranger, the more I know God, the richer and more effective the prayer can become.
James tells us that the “effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). The reason such prayer is effective, is because the person praying has been made righteous (as God is and how we are to behave).
We must also come to God with humility. The term “humility” in Scripture (tapeinophrosynē), means to see yourself low to the ground. When I approach the King of kings and Lord of lords, I must see myself low to the ground, in humility. I do not come to God in my own strength, resource, or ability. I am weak and though I approach His throne boldly, I do so with great humility.
And we must remember to also have the spiritual posture of praise and thanksgiving. Philippians 4:6 reminds us that we are to pray with thanksgiving and Psalm 100:4 exhorts us to, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.”
Again, while your physical posture of prayer is to help you remove distractions, it is less important than the spiritual posture you enter into prayer with.
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Question: How have you seen the spiritual posture of prayer more important than the physical way you pray?
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NRJohnson (Nathan Johnson) is a Christian who has an overwhelming passion for Jesus, the Gospel, and Studying God’s Word. He is a writer, teacher, and communicator who helps other believers understand and apply the Bible as they grow and mature in their faith—desiring that they gain greater intimacy with Christ, experience the victorious Christian life, and transform the world through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Read more about him here.
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Many Christians feel frustrated because they don’t grow spiritually. The Deeper Christian Podcast helps equip Christians to understand the Word of God and cultivate a passionate love for Jesus that turns the world upside down.
Whether you want to learn how to study God’s Word, grow in your faith, cultivate a powerful and effective prayer life, share the Gospel boldly, deepen your intimacy with Jesus, live victoriously, or transform the world through the indwelling life of the Holy Spirit, the Deeper Christian Podcast with NRJohnson (Nathan Johnson) will encourage and equip you to grow spiritually and live a Christ-centered life.