Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bended Knees. Bowed Heart

Come, let us worship and bow down; let us knee before the LORD our Maker.
- Ps 95:6

Friends, my plate has been fully loaded during the last few weeks hence the irregular posting on the blog. Do bear with me. Today, I share with you on a subject tugging my heart strings - our posture during prayer and worship.

I come from culture where you greet an older person with bended knees if you are a female. If you are a male you either bow or prostrate before the individual. There are many variations of this courtesy of respect.

These include:  the two knees bent on the floor, one knee on the floor with the second bent, or a slight bent of one knee with back straight for females. And for males, prostrating on the ground (chest on the ground), bowing both head and trunk with one or both hands on the floor (similar to get-set position), or bowing the trunk with one hand at the back.

It depends on the status of the person to whom the courtesy is being offered or the relationship between you. Often this elicits  a blessing from the recipient.

Bended Knees - a fading culture?

I wondered many times if we are not fast loosing this culture of respect especially with our third culture children growing in cultures different from the ones where their parents were brought up.

Hugging my parents was a gesture I learnt to do much later in life but my sons me give the hug and not the bowing or prostrating.  But when it comes to their grandparents, they bow down in courtesy and give the hug as well!

My mother is visiting with me and I found that it had been a long time since I had to greet anyone with such courtesy as earlier described. With her youthful looking and fresh skin, and her grey hair covered, she was always passed off as my older sister by friends.

It has been interesting to watch people greet her when I introduce her as my mother. I paid particular attention to the younger generation and noted that:

- some immediately fell on their knees to greet her — you know their roots right away,
- some curtsied, with one bent knee and / or bowed head,
- some hugged her,
- some stood, back straight, arm stretched to shake her hands.

Recently, I worshipped in an old Anglican Church, with arched entrance, painted windows, brown wooden pews, green kneeling pads, green-covered hymn books and wine-coloured, leather bound prayer books with vintage pages—a reminiscence of a time gone past.

The minister encouraged the congregation to kneel down during each prayer time. Kneeling down to pray in the church was no longer a common place experience for me - we stand, we sit but kneel only occasionally.

I do recall those epic moments when my spirit is caught up in praise and adoration of God that I fell on my knees and worshiped in the presence of God. I remembered times when I was so burdened during prayers of supplication or intercession that I fall on my face before the throne of mercy to plead my case.

These precious moments happened more in my bedroom, but sometimes in the church too, when the presence of God feels so palpable. I wonder if these can't be a daily experience of God's presence.

Is bended knees sufficient without a bowed heart? I think not. Bent knees should be an outward expression of inward brokenness, humility and bent heart.

Bended Knees - in prayer

What posture do we take when we pray?

The Bible does not give any instructions as to a particular position we must put our body when we pray. But we have several examples in the Bible of how men of God prayed.

Jesus agonized in prayers on bended knees in the Garden of Gethsemane. He fell on His face (bowed his face to the ground) and prayed (Matt. 26:39).

Three times a day, Daniel got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to God—this was his daily practice (Dan 6:10).

Moses and Aaron bowed themselves in prayer upon their faces as they interceded for those who had deserted them (Number 16:22). Stephen fell upon his knees and prayed.

It is a posture of humility, submission and can denote an attitude of supplication or making an earnest and momentous request. It is a position when adopted in prayer indicates submission to God. 

Reverently kneeling or standing with head bowed seems to be indicative of a deep sense of God's presence and majesty.

Irreverently sitting and staring does not appear to command respect. No one does that in the presence of an earthly King. There ought to be a rebuke of such habits where there is no change in posture during prayer.

Do we give God our undivided attention in the time of prayer?

Every attention must be given to eliminate distraction during the time of prayer and to bring drifting thoughts under control.

Bended Knees - in worship

To whom do we come when we worship?

We come to the LORD our Maker, the Creator of the Heaven and Earth. Ps 95:6 called us to bow down in an attitude of worship, to prostrate before God in order to do Him homage or to reverence Him. For He is our God. It is giving to God honour and adoration due to Him.

Solomon knelt before God to give thanks for  the great benefits bestowed on him and his nation, and to pray for perseverance and prosperity for his people (2Chron 6:13). Hezekiah and all who were with him bowed down and worshiped God, while the singers sang and the trumpeters played (2Chron 29:28-29).

When we sing to worship and adore God, we must bend our hearts to be in tune with the thought we are expressing in songs.

How can we worship in spirit and in truth when our hearts are distant or we are engaged with mundane thoughts and distractive activities?

Bended knees—takes you right back to the old, perhaps archaic times—makes you to think about the old time religion. Bended knees is a posture of reverence and respect to be encouraged both at home and in the church.

It is not a rule. It is not a law. It can not be legislated. But it is the right thing to do.
A proper attitude to cultivate.

I love both the hugs and the bended knees. I can imagine the King of kings and God of gods wants us to be at liberty in His presence. And His presence also commands our reverence. Our reverence for God should go beyond our respect and fear for any man.

How do we comport ourselves when we are in the presence of God, especially during the times of prayer and of worship? With reverential respect or with unchecked familiarity?

Paying attention to how we comport ourselves in the presence of God will enrich our prayer, praise and worship time, and ultimately enrich our communion with God.

What does bended knees mean to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below. I ask you to share this message with your friends and enrich their fellowship with God.


  1. Sometimes I sit, but honestly, when things are hard, I just must kneel to agonize. The heavier the burden, the closer I get to the ground. And often when there has been a mighty breakthrough, I jump up in praise, singing, but still inevitably get back on those knees to say "thank you". I feel like I am among those 24 elders throwing down their crowns before the great throne of God! I also kneel to greet my dad and I have had a very loving Dad so kneeling has never been associatied with humilation for me. It is a posture of sincere expressions in the presence the greatest one. A friend's father died at 90 some months ago. He was found on his knees, facing his chair and since that was his usual praying position, the family concluded he must have died while praying!

    I thank God for the fellowship you share on these blogs and letters and I'll kneel down now to thank God again for you Sis Irene.

    Stay blessed.

  2. Dear Yemisi, this is beautiful and inspiring. Thanks for sharing your experience. I truly can relate with it. Thank you for your prayers. God bless you richly.


Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts and comments. I appreciate you. God bless you.