Something I’ve often been hugely challenged by has been the importance of kneeling in prayer. In fact, I’ve become really passionate about it! I really believe that kneeling can be a really important part of prayer.
Now, this is not some new-fangled thing – people have been kneeling in prayer since the start of the church. Eusebius tells of James, brother of Jesus and the first Bishop of Jerusalem, having callouses on his knees because he spent so much time on them in prayer! The desert fathers were a group of Christians in Egypt in the third century AD who went out to live in the desert and devote their lives to seeking God, and in doing so set the template for every monastic movement in Christianity ever since. One of their many stories mentions seeing an apparition of the Devil. Among the most striking things about this apparition was that he had no knees, and therefore a complete lack of ability to honour our Father. But don’t just take tradition for it! I just want to give you four quick reasons from the Bible as to why getting on our knees is important:
#1 - Right reaction to the power of God
Joshua 5:14, Isaiah 45:23, Philippians 2:10
Throughout the Bible when God or his heavenly associates show up, Bible characters get on their knees in awe. Just one example is Joshua’s interaction with the commander of heaven’s armies in Joshua 5:14. Isaiah 45:23 tells us that one day, when God’s full glory is revealed, every knee, whether Christian or non-Christian, shall bow before the Lord, as reiterated by Paul in Philippians 2:10.
#2 - Admitting our weakness and humility
Mark 1:40, 10:17, Matthew 17:12, 27:29, John 9:35-38, Acts 9:40, Luke 22:41
Secondly, kneeling admits our weakness and humility. Each of the gospel writers gives examples of people falling down on their knees before Jesus in respect of their weakness and inability to save themselves before him. Jesus himself kneels in the garden of Gethsemane saying “not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42) admitting the weakness of his human nature before the Father. There’s a beautiful example in Acts 9:40 where the apostle Peter kneels down in humility to pray for a disciple called Tabitha to be raised from the dead. This stands in stark contrast to the prayers of the disciples before Jesus’ resurrection, most notably James and John’s proud demand to call fire down from heaven, (Luke 9:54) and shows just how far their understanding has come. I think there’s a really important thing about our physical posture being crucially tied to our spiritual posture. Kneeling admits that we are weak, and puts everything before God
#3 - Coming into a place of intimacy with the Father
Kneeling also brings us into a real place of intimacy with the Father. I won’t go into this in too much detail, but the Garden of Gethsemane must surely be one of Jesus's closest times with his Father.
#4 - Begging for God to come
2 Chronicles 6:13, Ezra 9:5, Acts 21:5
Finally, I believe that kneeling is a crucial part of begging for God to come. When Solomon built his temple to the Lord he knelt down and prayed that God would fill that space. Ezra did the same when the temple was rebuilt. In Acts 21 we see a whole church getting down on the beach to pray that God would come and move in their situation.
So let’s get on our knees and pray for God to come to our city! Start with five minutes individually reflecting on the awesome power of God. Then let's admit our weakness and humility to him, saying sorry and asking forgiveness for our sins.