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Does posture matter when you pray?

By: abbie sharpe

We know what prayer is: asking for help, giving thanks, talking with God. But how do we pray? Do you look up to the sky with outstretched arms or bow your head and pray discreetly? Does it even matter?

The Bible talks a lot about prayer. Prayer is powerful. It’s how we communicate with God, and it’s available to all of us. Prayer can happen anytime, anywhere. It can be spoken aloud or in a quiet meditation between yourself and God.

What Your Posture Communicates

Have you ever sat across from someone who tells you they care, but their body language says the opposite? Positioned as far from you as possible with arms crossed and one eye checking the clock, you’re pretty sure they’d rather be anywhere but here. 

Posture matters in every conversation. It conveys emotions our words cannot. This is true in our conversations with each other and our conversations with God. 

God is most concerned with the posture of our hearts.

You’ve probably seen Christians take all sorts of postures when they pray. But you might not know there is meaning behind each one: 

  • Bowing is a sign of respect and honor.
  • Kneeling is a sign of humility.
  • Hands raised is a sign of worship and praise. 

There is no wrong way to pray, whether on your knees at your bedside or with arms outstretched during church. God is most concerned with the posture of our hearts. 

Three Things to Remember When You Pray

1. God is present.  

Although we cannot see God when we pray, He is there. That should bring us comfort, but it should also leave us in awe. The Creator of the Universe is with you and wants to hear from you. 

Allow yourself to experience the reverence of His presence. God takes our prayers seriously, which is one reason we can trust Him at all times when we pour our heart out, for God is our refuge (Psalm 62:8). 

2. God can handle your real feelings. 

When we come before God in prayer, we can give Him our most authentic thoughts. But while God longs to hear from us, anger and strife displease God and make it difficult to focus in prayer. 1 Timothy 2:8 instructs, “Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.” 

It is important to make things right with others before making requests of God. Our mighty God cares more about us maintaining right relationships with Him and with others, not keeping up a religious front.  

God hears our venting and provides a listening ear, but the Holy Spirit will provide that poke that convicts us to humble ourselves and make things right. Psalm 66:18 is a nugget of prayer wisdom: “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” Repentance before God leads to effective prayer.

3. God is not grading your words or giving out style points. 

Many times we do not know what to say when we go to the Lord in prayer. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. “We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26).  

The Holy Spirit is a gift given to us at salvation. When we find ourselves at a loss with the words to say, we can trust the Holy Spirit to fill in those blanks for us and intercede on our behalf. Simply submitting our spirit to the Lord when all else fails is a win-win situation. 

James 4:8 reassures us, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” Isn’t that comforting to know? God draws us closer to Him when all we do is talk to Him in prayer. 

After all, the power in your prayer isn’t in the posture but in the Holy Spirit who lives in you.

Looking for more on how to pray, check out Matthew 6:5-13 where Jesus teaches His disciples how to pray.

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