Prayer is certainly one of the most important activities that a Christian does. As a matter of fact, Paul declared, “Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thess. 5:17-18). We also remember the words of our Lord:
And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? (Luke 18:1-7)
Since the Bible places so much emphasis on prayer, does the Bible mention any particular posture that Christians should use in addressing the Father? Most of us are familiar with pictures of Muslims kneeling on a prayer rug to pray. We have probably seen someone kneel in prayer. You might be interested in knowing that some religious groups within what the world calls “Christianity” dictate how a person should posture themselves for prayer. However, our question in reality ought to be, does the Bible dictate a certain posture for prayer?
The Bible actually mentions many different postures that were used for praying. Here is at least a partial picture of prayer posture:
Standing (Gen. 24:12-14)
Bowing down (Exod. 34:8)
Sitting (Judges 20:26)
Placing the head between the knees (1 Kings 18:42)
Facing the temple (Dan. 6:10)
Kneeling (Mark 1:40)
Pounding on the breast (Luke 18:13)
Looking upward (John 17:1).
Lifting the hands (1 Tim. 2:8)
It must be obvious from the above that no one posture should be elevated above another. Rather than the physical posture of prayer being stressed, it truly is the position of the heart (referring to our mind, spirit or soul) that is important. We might point out at this point that we are not saying that a nonchalant posture in prayer could, and I emphasize the word “could,” indicate a nonchalant attitude toward God. The point is that there were many different praying postures used in Bible times. Therefore, let us notice what is truly important in our prayer life.
The first posture required in prayer is that we must be in Christ. In other words, the first priority in our prayers must be that we are a Christian. Paul wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Notice that Paul said that all spiritual blessings are in Christ. Prayer is a spiritual blessing; therefore, for my prayers to be acceptable, I must be a Christian.
The second posture that needs to be addressed is that the heart must be humble. Before God will answer our prayers, we must humble ourselves before Him. Jesus taught, “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matt. 23:11-12). James echoed these words:
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. (James 4:6-10)
The final posture of the heart that we will discuss is purity. Jesus taught, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). Paul wrote to the younger preacher Timothy, “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22).
To sum it up, the Bible teaches that our physical posture is not what is most important. Most important is the spiritual posture of the heart.