Prayer is a vital part of the Christian life. It is our way of communicating with God, of seeking His guidance, and offering our thanks and praise. But how do we pray? What is the proper posture for prayer?
Some people believe that kneeling is the only proper way to pray because it shows obedience to God. Others believe that any posture is acceptable as long as your attitude is respectful. They point out that Jesus prayed in many different positions, including standing, sitting, and kneeling.
So, do you need to kneel when you pray?
The short answer is no. Kneeling is a good way to show humility towards God, but it is not the only proper posture for prayer. Any posture can be used for prayer as long as the heart is right.
We will explore some different perspectives on this topic in this article and I invite you to read on. If you are curious, you may also enjoy reading about reading the Bible before or after you pray, or even about whether to close your eyes or bow your head when you pray.
We invite you to share your insights or prayer requests in the comments section at the end of this article.
It’s Okay To Kneel When You Pray
The Bible does not explicitly say that we must kneel when we pray. However, there are a number of passages that suggest that kneeling is a humble and appropriate posture for prayer. For example, in Psalm 95.6, the psalmist writes, “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”
And in Daniel 6.10, we read that “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.”
These passages suggest that kneeling is a way of releasing our pride and showing respect for God. When we kneel, we are acknowledging that God is our Creator and that we are His creatures. We are also acknowledging that we are sinners in need of God’s grace.
Kneeling can help us to focus on our prayers. When we kneel, we are physically removing ourselves from the distractions of the world around us. This can help us to focus on our relationship with God and on the words that we are saying. Literally, we are lowering ourselves into a posture of submission and relinquishment before God.
Kneeling can be a sign of our love for God. When we kneel, we are showing God that we love Him and that we are grateful for all that He has done for us. On our knees can be a posture of gratitude, combined with our words of prayer.
However, it is important to remember that kneeling is not the only proper posture for prayer.
It Is Okay Not To Kneel When You Pray
The Bible also records instances of people praying in other positions. For example, in Luke 22:41, we read that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
“On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22.40-42, NIV).
But in one of the books of Moses, we witness the Levitical priests standing before God, as they were chosen, “to stand before the LORD to minister unto him, and to bless in his name, unto this day” (Deuteronomy 10.8, KJV).
These passages suggest that any posture can be used for prayer as long as the heart is right. When we pray, we should focus on our relationship with God and on the words that we are saying. The posture of our body is not as important as the posture of our heart.
Of course, kneeling is not the only way to show humility, submission, focus, or love to God. Any posture can be used for prayer, and in many ways is helpful to change our prayer posture from time to time.
For instance, if you are injured and unable to kneel, you can pray in any other comfortable position. You can sit in a chair, lie down in bed, or even stand up. The important thing is that you are able to focus on your prayers and communicate with God.
The Posture Of Your Heart In Prayer Is Vital
We can now see that our physical posture during prayer can be whatever we need it to be, and it will be appropriate. But what about the posture of our heart? Isn’t our mindset and the attitude of our spirit more important when we approach God in prayer?
From scripture, this very much appears to be the case. The best example is from King David’s prayer in Psalm 51 (it is worth your time to read the whole Psalm). He prays this after the prophet Nathan confronted him about his adultery with Bathsheba. Convicted by God’s Spirit, King David prays with repentance in his heart:
“Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions. . .
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight. . .
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51, NIV).
Praying with a repentant heart is key to keeping our relationship with God in the realm of grace and mercy. The posture of our heart can keep us from becoming hardened or cynical in prayer. We also want to pray with thanksgiving in our heart.
Jesus counsels us to come to God in prayer with humility and not to show off for others. Jesus also shows us that the words that come out of our mouth find their start in our hearts. The Psalmist offers that we should come to God in full trust. Without doing an exhaustive survey of scripture, even these few examples show us the biblical trend–pray to God with a humble heart.
Given that we are sinners and God is God and we are not God, it is easy to see how we can approach with both confidence through Jesus Christ, and also with a sense of reverence, respect, and understanding of who we are, and who we are not. Praying with an open heart seems to be the ideal, and one we can all grow into, and deepen as we journey forward with God.
Prayer is a conversation with God. It is a time to express your thoughts, feelings, and needs to Him. If kneeling helps you do that, then enjoy those tender moments with God. If standing or pacing back and forth enables you to focus your mind and heart toward God, then by all means do that.
You may discover there are situations in life that are so serious that you will choose to pray face down on the ground before God. Whatever comes along in your life, remember that praying to God brings you closer to God. However you need to situate your body is up to you, your health, and your emotions in that moment.
Here are some additional things to consider when deciding whether or not to kneel when you pray:
- Your personal preference: Some people find that kneeling helps them to focus and to feel more humble before God. Others find that standing helps them to feel more energized and to pray with more passion. There is no right or wrong answer, and it is perfectly okay to choose the posture that works best for you.
- The situation: There may be times when kneeling is not possible or appropriate. For example, if you are praying in a public place, you may not want to kneel for fear of drawing attention to yourself. Or, if you are injured or unable to kneel, you can pray in any other comfortable position.
- The culture you are in: Different cultures have different customs and traditions when it comes to prayer. In some cultures, kneeling is seen as a sign of respect, while in other cultures, it is seen as a sign of submission. It is important to be sensitive to the cultural context when you are praying.
Some people find that kneeling helps them to focus and to feel more humble before God. Others find that standing helps them to feel more energized and to pray with more passion. There is no right or wrong answer, and it is perfectly okay to switch between kneeling and standing depending on your mood or your needs.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to kneel when you pray is a personal one. There is no right or wrong answer. What matters most is that you have a sincere heart when you pray.
May you continue to grow in your journey of prayer with God. Explore many of the hundreds of prayers across this website and discover that God truly wants to hear from you about anything and everything happening in your life. There is nothing too big or too small to bring to God in prayer.