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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

Why Kneeling or Lifting Hands Can Help Prayer and Worship

Visiting a church

Years ago my wife and I visited Jack Hayford’s Church on the Way.

We were used to church services where we’d sing a few songs and then hear a sermon.

But Church on the Way was different.

They weren’t just going to church — they were seeking God.

They weren’t just enjoying a service — they were worshiping God.

They weren’t just singing songs — they were meeting the Living God.

Not only that …

Some were kneeling before God, some lifting their hands to God, some bowing before God.

And I will never forget one couple right in front of us.

They were both lifting their hands in worship.

Then the husband reached over and grasped his wife’s raised hand — so that together they lifted their hands to the Lord.

Beautiful.

Deeply impacted

That service impacted me in many ways.

One was that I started noticing how often bowing, kneeling, and lifting hands are mentioned in the Bible —

Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah … fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord.  (2Ch 20:18)

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!  (Psa 95:6)

[Daniel] got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. (Dan 6:10)

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands. (1Tim 2:8)

Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! (Psa 141:2)

Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the LORD! (Psa 134:2)

But I’m an introvert

I am.  Not very expressive.  So this felt a little uncomfortable.

But I started to wonder — Is physical posture important?

It seemed to be  — based on God’s Word.  But why?

Here’s an illustration that helps me —

Imagine that I am sitting at the kitchen table, and Jan is at our sink, and I want to tell her that I love her.

So think of what I’d feel if I stayed sitting, and said to her — “I love you.”

I’d mean it.  And I’d feel it.

But —

Think of what I’d feel if I got up from the kitchen table, walked over to her, took her in my arms, looked her in the eye, and said “I love you.”

Same words.  But I would feel them more deeply.  Much more deeply.

Why?

It’s because our feelings and bodies are connected.

Our physical posture can express our feelings — and strengthen our feelings.

Not that physical posture produces feelings.

But if we are already feeling love for God — physical posture can strengthen that even more.

Specifically —

Kneeling can deepen humility before God.

Bowing can increase awe of God.

Lifting hands can strengthen desire for God — or praise to God — or neediness before God.

So here’s a suggestion —

Start with your own private prayer

What’s most important is your heart.

So focus on nurturing your heart for God through prayer and God’s Word.

Then — as God stirs your feelings — try this and see what happens —

As you worship — raise your hands toward God.

As you confess — bow down on the floor before God.

As you plead — kneel before Him — stretch out your hands to Him.

I can almost guarantee — your feelings toward God will be strengthened.

What difference did this make?

I’d love to hear — leave a comment below.  Thanks!

And if you know someone who would be helped by reading this — email it to them using the “share” button below — or use the buttons to share it on your favorite social medium.

And here’s some related links you might find helpful —

 

(Picture on everystockphoto by kalandrakas.)

Category: Growing in Worship, Help with Prayer

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20 Responses

  1. Ron R. says:

    I found this to be true in my own life. I used to go to a church whose worship style was rather conservative. But one thing that they did encourage was this: During prayer time, they would encourage anyone that was able to humble themselves on their knees during prayer time. At the time I had just started to go to this church. This, too me, was the clincher. I really enjoyed the prayer time. Now I am going to a church where I feel free to raise me hands and bow before him during the worship time- and I really enjoy it.
    During my own private time with the Lord,I find that this also is a part of my time with the Lord. I so want to express my love for the Lord during this time. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Cathy Charon says:

    I appreciate this post Pastor Steve.. If you are postured to be reverent or praising..your heart and mind will more easily follow. I know it definitely has that effect for me.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      It’s good to hear from you, Cathy. And it is helpful to hear that you have also experienced physical posture strengthening your heart for God.

      May the Lord richly bless you and Craig!

      Steve

  3. Pastor Emeka says:

    Kneeling, raising up hands and prostratipon are all evidences of a genuine submission to God or any other being one is acknowledging as superior. Thus, when we worsh God in this manner, it pleases Him and makes our worsh more acceptable to Him.

  4. Meridian says:

    Fantastic article…and the part about being an introvert is true. I’m not very demonstrative around other people, especially here in the conservative Bible Belt. I used to attend a church where the worship was incredible–raised hands, dancing, total Holy Spirit experience–but the preaching didn’t feed me at all. Now I’m at a church where the pastor’s sermons are deeply meaningful and teaching me volumes–but the people aren’t very expressive. Makes me laugh…can’t I have both, Lord??

    But when I’m alone, I can let go. And my physical posture is much more an expression of my passion than an attempt to strengthen my feelings toward God. It’s like…I can’t contain it, so my body just reacts to the feelings in my heart. In Heaven, I’ll definitely be on the dance team :-)

    I love how the Jewish people of the Bible put their feelings on display. They didn’t hold back when in the grip of strong emotion. Wonder if that was a cultural thing?

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Great to hear from a fellow-introvert, Meridian!

      And I agree that too many churches are either strong in expressive worship or strong in biblical teaching.

      But I’m glad you can fully express your love for Christ in private worship.

      And I think you are right that there’s cultural aspects to this — but I’m also sure we can all grow in expressing our hearts for God.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

      Steve

  5. Brian says:

    My brother Steve,

    I know that we’ve shared this personally but it seems appropriate here, too.

    I learned about lifting of hands during prayer, praise and worship from my older son. When he was 2 or 3 he would greet me at the door when I came home from work. Standing in the door, in my way, with arms held high seeking my embrace. Being as dense as I am it took me a while to realize that his embrace was more important than getting into the house to put things down. And then, all too quickly, he didn’t meet me at the doors any longer. Fortunately, I learned this lesson while he was still teaching it, “His embrace is what I need”.

    I have learned something about this from listening to Jack Hayford, as well. When our Lord is “calling” us to worship Him, with arms up, with knees down or with both, heed His call and worship Him. When we’re worshiping Him our focus is on Him and we don’t have time to notice how others are worshiping Him. If we cannot keep our focus on Him, sit in front where we cannot see what others are doing.

    One might be surprised at how many others in the body we attend are wanting to lift their hands during prayer and worship but they don’t want to be “the only one”.

    A definition of “introvert” is “a reserved or shy person”. I think we’re all reserved or shy when it comes to standing or kneeling before the congregation with arms held high. But, can we turn our back on the congregation and stand or kneel before our Lord with arms held high?
    Further definitions of “introvert” are, “to turn inward or in upon itself” and “to concentrate or direct upon oneself”. I see these as points of stumbling in my worship, too.

    Give heed to His call!

    Brian

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks so much for sharing your powerful story, Brian. I hope many read it and respond.

      I love your heart for our Lord.

      He is worth it all,

      Steve

    • Meridian says:

      Hey Brian – just a slight clarification here.

      An introvert isn’t necessarily a shy or reserved person, though that’s a common viewpoint many people have. An introvert is someone who, when needing to be recharged, prefers to be alone. Being around others drains our energy, and being alone charges it back up. We are also somewhat introspective, tending to process thoughts and ideas inwardly as opposed to projecting them outwardly toward others in our environment. And we are the minority – most of the world is extraverted, and designed with extraverts in mind.

      I’ve had some incredible worship experiences, including one where many of us raised our hands high, clasped them together like a chain, and jumped up and down to the beat of the music while random people in the room blew shofars. Yep…intense. And I loved it. Being an introvert doesn’t stop me from sharing my passion with like-minded others who understand and accept it.

      Does being an introvert affect my worship style? I guess it does, because when I’m recharging alone – that’s when the real worship happens. That’s when I’m most comfortable with spiritual intimacy. In a crowd, not so much. But I don’t find this a stumbling block as much as a reality. Steve’s example about saying ‘I love you’ vs approaching his wife and wrapping his arms around her and looking deeply into her eyes while he says it…that hit home with me. How comfortable would I be having an intimate moment like that with my husband in a crowd? Not very, lol!

      My private, introverted moments with God trump moments in a crowd any day.

      Anyway, just my two cents (smile).

      Blessings,
      M.

      • Steve Fuller says:

        Thanks for the thoughts on what it means to be an introvert, Meridian.

        I found your insight helpful, and experience it myself.

        I definitely get more energized from alone-time — although I am also pressing deeper into community with my church family.

        And I fully resonate with your last line — private moments with God trump moments in a crowd. Me, too!

        Steve Fuller

      • Brian says:

        While I didn’t address Pastor Emeka’s great comments, nor any of the others, I totally agree that the lifting of hands is an expression of humble surrender, of being prostrate before our God.
        My worship would not occur in the public settings if it had not also occurred in the private. Similarly, it would not occur in the private if I were forsaking the assembling of my brothers in the public.
        To paraphrase Corinthians the body is not just an introvert, neither is it an extrovert. The body consist of you, Meridian, and me, people who would knock heads and disagree, people who prove that iron really does sharpen iron.
        Your worship brings glory to the Lord I love!
        Your act of surrender encourages my act of surrender!
        Your expressions of love are a reminder that I need to express the love of my own heart.
        Just as when I see Steve lifting up Jan in public, your husband bragging about his wife in public, these remind me to show honor to the bride of my youth in public.

  6. Natasha Kay says:

    I love this! What a great reminder of how expressive God is and how much He wants to have a real relationship with each of us. :)

    • Steve Fuller says:

      It’s always a joy to hear from you, Natasha — and I’m so glad that you found this to be helpful.

      Let’s press on to know the Lord — He truly is worth it all.

      Steve

  7. Nick says:

    Yes I agree! During one praise and worship sessions I don’t normally feel the Lord until I kneel and raise my hands. That’s where the love of our God works .

  8. Samantha Theriot says:

    This is all so true! I appreciate this post… our youth group consists mainly of teens that are just starting to come to church and become saved. I have been going over fundamental things with them, and we are currently doing a series different ways that we can worship. The beauty of it all is that all of the above listed are not “required” of us when we worship, but all are forms or expressions of what worship is and what it may look like. We all have our individual relationships with God, so our worship will always be “our own thing.” It’s all about conveying our praise to Him in the best way for our current circumstances. I really like the “I love you” example.. I will more than likely use it for our bible study tomorrow. Again, thanks!

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