Positions in Prayer

There are examples in the Bible of standing in prayer, sitting in prayer, kneeling in prayer, and falling on your face in prayer. Lets take a look at positions in prayer.

May I kneel when I pray? Yes, you may, but what does it mean when you kneel and why should you do it? Kneeling in prayer is an act of humility. That's what it means. I'm humbling myself before God.

Daniel 6 verse 10, "Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days."

Notice that Daniel knelt down on his knees and prayed three times a day.

May I stand when I pray? Yes, you may, but what does it mean when you stand? Why should you do it? We're in church perhaps and we are sitting down and someone asks us to stand for prayer, why should we do it? Standing in prayer is an act of respect for God. We stand in His presence.

In 2 Chronicles 6 we read of Solomon's Prayer of Dedication of the Temple and notice that he stood and kneeled when he prayed, verse 12, "And he stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands: {13} For Solomon had made a brazen scaffold, of five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court: and upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven."

May I sit when I pray? Yes, you certainly may, but what does it mean when you sit and why should you do it? Sitting in prayer is an act of friendship. It says, "I have come to talk to You for a while."

In 2 Samuel 7 we read of David's prayer about the Temple and notice that David sat as he prayed. Verse 18, "Then King David went in and sat before the LORD; and he said: "Who am I, O Lord GOD? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? {19} "And yet this was a small thing in Your sight, O Lord GOD; and You have also spoken of Your servant's house for a great while to come. Is this the manner of man, O Lord GOD?"

Kneeling is an act of humility, not an act of collapse. So sitting in prayer is an act of friendship. It says I have come to talk to You for a while.

May I lay prostate on the floor when I pray? Yes, you may, but what does it mean when you are praying in this prostate position? You can be on your knees bent over with your face between your knees facing the floor or you can be laying flat on the floor, with your face in the carpet; or you can be on the ground, with your face in the dirt. This is an act of total humility before God.

Matthew 26 verse 36, "Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there." {37} And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. {38} Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me." {39} He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.""

This was on the night part of the Passover after Jesus had done the Passover meal with His disciples and had instituted the footwashing and the sacraments of the bread and wine and He and His disciples had gone to the Garden of Gethsemane. Notice verse 39 where it says, "Jesus went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed. This expression Ďfell on His faceí indicates the prostate position on the ground in total humility.

Letís notice what Jesus prayed about: "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."

Jesusí prayer was about a life and death trial of Him being crucified on the cross. Jesus set an example that if you are faced with a life or death trial, you might want to consider the prostate position in prayer.

A couple of other examples of Godís servants falling on their faces and praying in the prostate position is Moses and Aaron (Numbers 16:20-22, 20:6), and Joshua (5:14)

May I pray in bed when I pray? Yes, you may. There may be times when you wake up from sleeping and toss and turn. This can be an excellent time for prayer.

There is an example of the prayer of King Hezekiah who was sick and near death. He prayed to God and God heard his prayer, healed him and added 15 years to his life. The following passage does not say he was in bed, but if he was sick and near death, he probably was in bed.

2 Kings 20 verse 1,"In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, "Thus says the LORD: 'Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.'" {2} Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the LORD, saying, {3} "Remember now, O LORD, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly. {4} And it happened, before Isaiah had gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying, {5} "Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, 'Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD. {6} "And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David."' ""

May I pray if in a life threatening situation? Yes, of course you can.

The prophet Jeremiah was cast into the dungeon and he was sinking in the mire and God delivered him (Jeremiah 38:1-13).

King Herod killed the apostle James the bother of John, and had seized the apostle Peter and put him in prison, probably with the intention of killing him also. The Church offered constant prayer, and I am sure Peter was praying too, and he was delivered by an angel. You can read the account in Acts chapter 12.

A life threatening situation is one way for God to get your attention so you can talk to Him in prayer.

May I lift up my hands when I pray? Yes, you may, but what does it mean when you lift your hands in prayer? Lifting your hands in prayer means that they are clean.

I saw people raising their hands in prayer services on television.

One commercial that I saw was promoting praise music. There was this whole congregation of people out there and everybody's hands are in the air waving back and forth like a rock concert and it really has a strange look. I don't know for sure about this, but I suspect the reason why a lot of people raise their hands is because it is a religious thing to do.

They have read in the Bible where Paul said, "I would that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands" (1 Timothy 2:8).

Then they conclude that we are supposed to lift our hands, but nobody has a clue as to why they are supposed to lift their hands. Very rarely do you ever hear a reason for it. I doubt if one person in a hundred knows what the reason for it is. What I just told you is, the expression says, "Lifting up holy hands" which means "My hands are clean."

Here's what Paul says on this matter.

Second Timothy chapter 2 and verse one, it is just a short statement, "I exhort therefore, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, giving of thanks be made for all men, {2} for kings and all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty."

We should pray that God will lead kings, governors and the government to make decisions which will allow us to live our lives peacefully so we can obey God.

Verse 3, "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, {4} who will have all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth, {5} for there is one God, one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ, {6} Who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time, {7} for I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, I lie not) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. {8} Therefore, I will that men pray everywhere lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting."

Now notice, this is not merely a matter of lifting up hands. It is lifting up HOLY hands. If you have wrath and doubting, you have no business sticking your hands up, because your hands are not clean. Every man is to lift up holy hands, without wrath and without doubting,

Now turn back to Isaiah one. I want to underline this question of the hands in prayer, in more of a straightforward fashion. So we're sure we understand what were talking about.

Isaiah 1 and verse 12, "When you come to appear before me, who has required this at your hand?" Who told you to come here? {13} "Donít bring any more of your vain oblations; your incense is an abomination to me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot stand it, it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting."

Now God is not talking here about some Gentile customs. He has come to the place where He no longer appreciates or accepts, or will have anything to do with their observance of His laws and commandments, which I think is fascinating. Their observance was vile and corrupt. They were not obeying God.

Verse 14, "Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates: they are a trouble to me; I am tired of them. {15} When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood."

The whole idea of praying before God, lifting up your hands is to say to God, "I come to you. My hands are clean. I hope." But it had better not be, "I hope," if you're going to raise holy hands to God.

"Wash you," verse 16, "make yourself clean, put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes, cease to do evil, {17} Learn to do well, seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, defend the fatherless, plead for the widow."

We are talking about real life issues here, not the way that you worship. Not some sanctimonious holding up of hands before God, that's not to buy you anything, nothing. It is not merely a matter of putting up your hands, it is a matter of how you treat people.

Relieve the oppressed, defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.

"Come now," verse 18, "and let us reason together", says the LORD: "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. {19} If you be willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land: {20} But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it."

I personally will not lift up my hands in prayer in public, and not often in private, because I know it means I'm saying to God, that my hands are clean and I'm afraid as a human being living in the world we live in, right now, that involves more than a little bit of vanity and a little bit of self-righteousness on all of our parts to do so. I also know how quickly vanity enters into all these things, where we can say, "Ah Ha, See everyone, my hands are clean!"

And so, consequently you will never see me lift my hands in prayer in public. But there have been times in prayer in private when I've done so. When I have come to the place to where I'm so desperate reaching up to God and reaching out to God that I will put out my hands to Him, but I also have to think, that He doesn't want to see my hands out there when they are not clean. Before I can lift up my hands to God, or before I can display my hands to God, I have some work that has to be done before Him in terms of confession, in terms of repentance, in terms of forgiveness and only when my hands are cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ can I then hold up holy hands to God and actually say to God, "I'm here, I'm righteous, but only in the righteousness of Jesus Christ."

So which way should you pray? Kneeling, standing, sitting, with your hands raised, or maybe with your hands behind you in your pockets. It depends on what you need, where you are, what kind of shape you're in. It depends on a lot of things that is happening in your life.

In conclusion: As you try different positions in prayer, you will become familiar with how each position makes you feel and how it affects your prayers. Remember, the most important thing is, to PRAY.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

This article has excerpts from a sermon by: Ronald L. Dart

Titled: The Culture of Prayer #0053

Return to ICOG Newsletter Page