Are you bored in prayer? Do you fall asleep often or drift easily? We tend to pray in the wee hours of the morning or late at night when sleep can get the best of us. Today I wanted to share about 5 postures of prayer to shake us out of the rut we can fall into when we pray.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but ones I identified with personally. Each position tends to emphasize a different heart. As you find yourself in different mindsets, let your body language follow. Or if you want to have a certain mindset, start with a position and let that influence your thoughts.
This is not woo-woo stuff. Our bodies and souls are connected. They do not operate independently from one another. From Proverbs 4:23 we are instructed to “guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Our heart affects our actions and our actions affect our heart.
I loved what C.S. Lewis said in Screwtape Letters. It’s an experienced demon talking to his nephew who’s job is to basically trip up a human and keep him from God. He says “At the very least, they can be persuaded that the bodily position makes no difference to their prayers; for they constantly forget, what you must always remember, that they are animals and that whatever their bodies do affect their souls.”
Isn’t it true that frowning or scowling can affect our heart or putting on a smile or laughing can change our mood?
So with that, let’s add a little life back into our prayers. I have 5 postures, a word or two of the posture of our hearts that it emphasizes and description along with a verse or two to see how that posture was demonstrated in the Bible.
HANDS UP – WORSHIPFUL
When we raise our hands up, we are lifting them to heaven. We do this in song as well as prayer and it can be an incredible way to pray prayers of Adoration (seen in the ACTS method) to lift up hands to the Lord. I often do this in the car when I am praying and driving.
May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. – Psalm 141:2
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FACE DOWN – DESPERATE
When we are faced down, it signals a desperation and utter dependence on God. We have nothing apart from Him. He is our source of everything. When you are facing a crisis or feeling completely overwhelmed, pour out your heart to God with face to the ground. This may be a position we can utilize as a part of confession. I think it’s interesting that both passages below show other postures of the heart following their desperation.
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. – Job 1:20 – Job had just lost everything so in desperation, he worshipped.
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” – Matthew 26:39 – Jesus was about to face the cross, so in desperation, He prayed for a different outcome but ultimately surrendered His will.
FLAT ON BACK – SURRENDERED / EXPECTANT / CALM
I start my morning prayer time flat on my back. It’s a quiet and calm time to focus my heart and surrender my day to the Lord. My instinct was to call this a surrendered and expectant time, but the below passage reminds me that from these things flow a calm as we are no longer carrying the heavy burdens of life but He is.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” – Psalm 23:2
KNEELING or HEAD BOWED – REVERENT
The kneeling position reminds me of people’s response to a king or master. It is one of reverence and I love the way Daniel emphasizes his reverence to the King of the World above his reverence to the kings of the land in the verse below. And head bowed, and the verses I found in the Bible about it, seemed to echo this reverence. When I am having trouble focusing, I use this position. It reminds me that in a distracted and full world, God is above it all and deserves my undivided attention.
Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. – Daniel 6:10
But I, by your great love, can come into your house; in reverence I bow down toward your holy temple. – Psalm 5:7
SITTING – ALERT / READY / LIKE A STUDENT
To me, sitting emphasizes a mindset of alertness and ready with an attentive ear. Ready to listen, ready to study the Word. This verse further emphasized this idea of becoming like a student who is ready to learn from the Lord. I think the passage below is a bit of a rhetorical question of gratitude to God, but I think it shows David’s heart to know this generous God even more. I think this would be a great position to use when you are about to study the Word as part of your morning quiet time. Present a ready heart to the Lord to learn more about Him.
Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? –2 Samuel 7:18
So there you have it! Five positions to shake up your prayer time and enhance the heart that is praying with your body language.
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