Standing during Prayer

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Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Is there a reason for standing during corporate prayer, sitting during the rest of the service? If it is a Scriptural reason (as opposed to an application of biblical principles to choose a culturally acceptable posture, since some posture must be taken as a circumstance of the various parts of worship), would consistency require standing during the reading of the Scriptures, since that is directly mentioned in the Scriptures?

What about for private prayer (family worship, gatherings of individuals, or a sole individual)? Are any postures allowed to be taken then, or are some postures required for whenever the prayer is done as a deliberate and concentrated act of worship? (I'm not sure of the correct way to describe such, but there seems to be a qualitative difference between quick prayers done throughout the day and the more concentrated prayers during what is usually called "private worship," "family worship," or "personal devotions.")
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
The Bible mentions multiple postures in relation to prayer:

  • Standing (Genesis 24:12-14)
  • Lifting the hands (1 Timothy 2:8)
  • Sitting (Judges 20:26)
  • Kneeling (Mark 1:40)
  • Looking upward (John 17:1)
  • Bowing down (Exodus 34:8)
  • Placing the head between the knees (1 Kings 18:42)
  • Pounding on the breast (Luke 18:13)
  • Facing the temple (Daniel 6:10)

So I would be uncomfortable with strict mandates for (e.g. standing) or prohibitions against (e.g. kneeling) particular postures. The only posture of prayer I'm not personally comfortable with in private prayer is laying in bed (it just seems irreverent). But of course there are those who are confined to their beds in which case it's perfectly acceptable.
 

TexanRose

Puritan Board Sophomore
Raymond, here's an article about standing for corporate prayer during public worship services. Perhaps you've seen it:
http://www.fpchurch.org.uk/beliefs/StandingAtPrayer.php
(Oops, Jessica beat me to it!)

Our practice in family worship is to remain sitting for the opening prayer (a shorter prayer where we ask a blessing on our time of worship) and kneeling for the closing prayer (which is the "main" prayer, more prolonged). If we have a really full house with lots of guests, we might stand for the final prayer, if there is not sufficient room for all to kneel.
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
If we are to pray without ceasing, it would seem to me that any posture except one that is deliberately irreverent somehow would be right. At least with private prayer?
 

MichaelNZ

Puritan Board Freshman
At the start of our services, we spend a moment praying to prepare for worship, and we stand for this. We sit for the congregational prayer and prayer of confession, though.

Standing for prayer is the standard practice in Eastern Orthodoxy. In Orthodox countries, the churches may not even have pews, with just some chairs or benches around the walls for those who can't stand (elderly etc).
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Thanks for the replies, all!


Thanks for the FP article, ladies! I read it before a long time ago, and it was thinking on it that partly prompted this thread (though another reason was the primary cause). However, I hadn't read the article in quite some time, so it was a good reminder.

Miss Marple said:
If we are to pray without ceasing, it would seem to me that any posture except one that is deliberately irreverent somehow would be right. At least with private prayer?
It was a similar consideration that prompted me to distinguish between prayer during a specified time that we usually call "worship" and more spontaneous prayers that might occur throughout the day. If there is a posture that should be taken, it seems to me clear enough that it only applies to the former.


C.M. Sheffield said:
So I would be uncomfortable with strict mandates for (e.g. standing) or prohibitions against (e.g. kneeling) particular postures.
Nevertheless, some posture must be assumed, and it can't be indifferent, so how is it chosen? And if we are going to the Scriptures to determine posture in prayer, does that mean consistency requires standing during the reading of the Scriptures? And what about the benediction?
 

irresistible_grace

Puritan Board Junior
In a similar thread four years ago, Rev. Glenn Ferrell said:
Certainly, while standing for scripture reading is not wrong, we sit for communion, representing the rest we enjoy as the redeemed in Christ. Sitting while being fed God's word might also represent that same rest. But, standing for prayer demonstrates our dependence and active engagement in imploring God for his aid. If find no RPW basis for sitting during prayer, except where providentially hindered from standing or kneeling.

I only share his exact words because he said it better than I could!

There was a time when everyone stood for the entire worship service (Singing of God's Word, Prayer, Reading of God's Word, Preaching, Benediction - not just during Prayer)! I know my husband would be perfectly content standing the ENTIRE time we Worship (if the minister is able to stand the entire time he Reads the Scripture, Prays & Preaches, I am physically capable as well). However, since this is no longer common practice, I think it is of most importance to stand during Prayer (for the reasons mentioned above & in the link I shared earlier).

If you want to be consistent & believe we should stand during the Reading of Scripture, would you then stand at random times during the Preaching of the Word when Scripture is read ("Turn if you will with me back to Ephesians... and follow along as I read verses...")???
 

Scottish Lass

Puritan Board Doctor
We stand for at least two prayers each service, as well as the scripture reading for the sermon (but not the sequential chapter reading earlier in the service).
 

Cymro

Puritan Board Junior
Prof Samuel Miller in his book 'Thoughts on Public Prayer', has a chapter on Posture
in Prayer. He wrote, that the ancient Christians made it a subject of specific regulation;
as there is a manifest advantage in having those who worship together uniform in their
external habits, as well as in their theological creed. And from many evidences of the
early church Fathers he shows that standing for prayer was the general practice. Indeed
Kneeling was not permissible on the Lord's day, only for penitents. From scripture he shows
that the four forms of posture were used in particular circumstances. He states that for the
first 300 years after Christ, standing for prayer was the only posture allowed on the
Lord's day. Making four points he writes, 1) it was evidently the apostolical and primitive
plan. 2) The first General Council in the fourth century, enjoined it by solemn canon. 3) It
is a posture of respect and reverence. 4) It is adapted to keep the worshipper wakeful and
attentive.
Sitting for prayer was never allowed in the ancient Church, which was considered irreverent.
Miller ends by calling on Ministers to warn their flocks about falling into habits unfavourable
to the spirit of devotion. A warning that is pertinent in these days of changing worship.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
The Bible mentions multiple postures in relation to prayer:

  • Standing (Genesis 24:12-14)
  • Lifting the hands (1 Timothy 2:8)
  • Sitting (Judges 20:26)
  • Kneeling (Mark 1:40)
  • Looking upward (John 17:1)
  • Bowing down (Exodus 34:8)
  • Placing the head between the knees (1 Kings 18:42)
  • Pounding on the breast (Luke 18:13)
  • Facing the temple (Daniel 6:10)

So I would be uncomfortable with strict mandates for (e.g. standing) or prohibitions against (e.g. kneeling) particular postures. The only posture of prayer I'm not personally comfortable with in private prayer is laying in bed (it just seems irreverent). But of course there are those who are confined to their beds in which case it's perfectly acceptable.

Lying in bed is of course not incompatible with prayer:

E.g. Genesis 48; Psalms 4:4; 6:6; 41:3; 63:6; 149;5.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
Lying in bed is of course not incompatible with prayer:

E.g. Genesis 48; Psalms 4:4; 6:6; 41:3; 63:6; 149;5.

  • In Genesis 48, Jacob is an elderly invalid. I of course made mention of that circumstance as an obvious exception.
  • Psalm 4:4 speaks of communing "with your own heart" in your bed. This seems more like meditation than prayer.
  • Psalm 6:6 isn't commending laying as an appropriate posture in prayer. Nor is it really speaking of prayer at all. It only speaks of his grief and sorrow he has during the night which keep him from rest and sleep.
  • Psalm 41:3 is, again, speaking of an invalid confined to their sick-bed (which is consistent with what I said).
  • Psalm 63:6 speaks of remembrance and meditation but doesn't explicitly mention prayer.
  • Psalm 149:5 does speak of praising God "on their beds." So there's one out of six.
But even if I granted that all of these references were speaking of the act of praying in bed as a normative pattern, there is a distinction between assuming a posture of prayer on one's bed (which in the ancient near east would have been a pallet on the floor), and one casually lounging in bed for no other reason than one is too lazy and irreverent to sit-up or kneel (even in the bed!) -- which was what I was addressing.

And finally, it must be noted that I never said praying in bed was necessarily unbiblical; but that I was personally uncomfortable with praying while laying in bed if I have the physical ability to rise and pray.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
If you're saying that if someone wakes up at night and wants to speak to the Lord, he should get out of bed and kneel by his bedside, I would disagree. People can send up prayers to God in all sorts of informal situations e.g. walking down the road.

If you're saying we should seek to adopt a posture other than lying on our beds for our times of formal private worship, I understand your concerns about an informal and "slipshod" approach to private worship.

Sent from my HTC Wildfire using Tapatalk 2
 
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