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Prayer – Is there a certain position required when praying?
We, who have attended worship service whether it was a Sunday morning service, bible study, prayer meeting, etc., when we start to pray, we are always asked to bow our heads and close our eyes. Also we have been taught to fold our hands in prayer. But is this principle or precept in God’s word? Where did this practice come from? Is your physical position significant?

So, I researched the bible to see is there a certain physical position to pray. I found that there are several positions listed in the bible when praying. The positions are; face down (prostate), kneeling, bowing, standing, sitting, looking up/eyes open, hands lifted up, in your bed, silently, and out loud. In each one of these positions it was about the condition of the person’s heart and need when praying to God. Each one of these positions has purpose and meaning.


The prostrate position is the first one recorded in the Bible. “Abram fell face down, and God said to him.”, Genesis 17:3. It is also recorded about Jesus when he was praying in the garden before he was crucified, in Matthew 26:39, “Going a littler 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.” No position symbolizes humility better than being on our faces before God. It represents a right response to a serious situation, it acknowledges our total unworthiness, and it recognizes the need for God’s mercy.


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The bowing position is a sign of reverence and an expression of worship. In some cultures when someone wants to show reverence and respect to anyone, they will bow as to kings, lords and people of authority. The lower the bow the greater the reverence. Job demonstrated this when God allowed satan to strip him of all his worldly possessions and children. “At this Job got up, tore his robes, shaved his head. Then fell to the ground in worship.” Job 1:20. You can also read Genesis 24:52 about Abraham’s servant when he bowed in worship.

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The standing position can mean a legal right to stand before a ruler, It also shows respect and honor and that you are ready to receive instructions. Mark 11:25 “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them. So that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” And in Luke 13:8, “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

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Sitting denote a symbol of rest. We find this in 1 Chronicles 16:17-27 when David prayed to the Lord after giving him rest from his enemies. Verse 17, “Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and said, ‘Who am I, LORD GOD and what is my family that you have brought me this far?”

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Looking Up
When you look at person in the face it reflects confidence and honesty. It is indicative of an intimate, open and trusting relationship. John 17:1 “After Jesus said this. He looked up toward heaven and prayed: “Father the hour has come, glorify your Son , so that your Son may glorify you.”

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Hands Lifted Up
This position acknowledges a place of surrender, with no weapons or hidden agenda and a position of praise. Paul addresses Timothy about how he wanted men to pray. “I want the men everywhere to pray lifting up holy hands without anger and disputing.” 1 Timothy 2:8. This position also shows worship.

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I found scripture reference for the following, but no specific reason for the positions.

Lying In Bed
Psalms 4:4 “Tremble and do not sin. When you are in your beds, search your hearts and be still.”

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Out Loud
NKJV Psalms 34:6 “This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.

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1 Samuel 1:13, “Hannah was praying in her heart and her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk.”

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As we’ve read, there is no scriptural reference to a position of head bowed and eyes closed. So where did this practice originate? This tradition started in the 1800’s when the Methodist church incorporated “altar call” as part of their weekly fellowship. It was introduce by a methodist preacher name Peter Cartwright. Soon other ministers start using this method. A good friend and brother in Christ explained it to me this way. “D. L. Moody popularized it and Billy Graham standardized it.”

The folding of hands is found in 2 verses in the Bible, and both are in the book of Proverbs. Both verses state exactly the same thing. “A liittle sleep, a little slumber, a little of the folding of the hands to rest…”, Proverbs 6:10 and 24:33. These verses have to do with being lazy, So where did the practice or tradition of hands together or folded on prayer come from. No one knows where it originated from. Most religions practice this, but why? It is suppose to be symbolic of obedience, submission,sincerity and repentance.

Again, the issue is the attitude of the heart not the postition of the body in worship. Prayer is certainly worship. I have learned from this research that sometimes the position can make a difference when we are praying, if it is done from the heart. Because God is looking at the inward person and not the outward appearance. As he said in Jeremiah 17:10, “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”




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