What feelings are generated at the thought of kneeling? Maybe it is pain or discomfort. Maybe it is the worry that you won’t be able to get back up again. Maybe it brings back memories of kneeling to be at closer eye level with someone or something. When you think of kneeling in the context of praying do completely different emotions surface? Does it create a formal feeling or maybe an awkwardness?
In the past, when it comes to kneeling in my faith I’ve mainly done that at the communion rail. I’ve not done it much in my prayer life. Within the last year I’ve taken to my knees in my daily prayer time. In the past, I mostly did this when the circumstances called for it. You know, “when the times get hard you hit your knees”? But what would it look like if we did this every day? When I first started this practice I had the stereotypical stance of being on my knees, sitting back on my heels with my hands folded. That became uncomfortable quickly. Then I would straighten up and not sit on my knees. That strained my back more. So eventually my praying stance became almost prostrate with my arms out straight, usually with my palms up. I was surprised at the relief and comfort I felt, both physically and spiritually.
In the Bible, we’re told of many instances of people kneeling before God and Jesus. Solomon, the wise king, knelt in front of the assembly of Israel when dedicating the Lord’s temple (2 Chronicles 6:12-13). Daniel knelt three times every day to pray (Daniel 6). Jesus himself knelt when praying to His heavenly Father (Luke 22:41). Acts records instances of Peter and Paul kneeling as well when praying.
Forget for a moment whether you are physically able to kneel or not. If it helps, think of a time when you could physically kneel. Why do we hesitate to do so? Is it because it makes us uncomfortable lowering ourselves below someone else? Is it scary to be in what feels like a very vulnerable position, in submission? Are we just too busy to take the time to be intentional with our prayer life? For me, I would have to say I had really never thought of making it a habit to kneel when praying. Then when I would think about it it was physically and emotionally uncomfortable. It felt too formal and unnecessary.
Since adopting the practice of kneeling more often when I have my personal prayer time, I have found it freeing, refreshing, humbling, inspiring, and very intimate. I have felt my burdens lifted as am almost prostrate with my hands opening, asking Jesus to take what I don’t want or need and to give me Himself instead. What would it be like for you to be completely relaxed and submit to God, laying down your burdens at His feet and giving Him the control we all are trying to take?
We’re told in the Bible that in the end everyone will be on their knees. “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)
Here’s my challenge to us all though. Rather than think about where we will be in the end let’s think about where to be in the beginning. I love the imagery of a race given to us in Hebrews 12:1-2. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Whether you can physically kneel or not, we can all mentally and spiritually kneel. If we’re going to run a race why not get low in the starting blocks!