I have never been one for kneeling to pray and have often thought that this was not really necessary to the praying or hearing of the prayer. I know now what I didn’t before. When you come to a place of desperation, when you need to know your prayer is reaching the ears of God, kneeling with your forehead to the floor is an outward sign of complete submission and supplication– when you put yourself physically into the act of prayer. You bow to God, giving your full measure of devotion.
Does that mean God doesn’t hear the prayers offered up under other circumstances? Does He turn a deaf ear to the one who walks, stands, sits, or reclines? To quote Paul, “By no means!” (Romans 6:2 NIV) The Bible, on the subject of prayer positions, has many examples, such as dancing and singing like Miriam is Exodus 15:20 or King David as he danced before the Lord in celebration in 2 Samuel 6:14. In Job 1:20, Job fell face down to pray to God. Jesus knelt and stood as He prayed (Luke 22:40-41, Matthew 6:9-14). After all, prayer is simply talking to God so it can technically be done anywhere. I personally do a lot of praying when driving. It is a place and time when God and I are alone together.
Kneeling is said to have been originally used when approaching a King as a symbol of honor and humility and lying face down (prostrate) before the King showed desperation when asking for a monumental favor. In Matthew 26 it is said that Jesus “fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’” It was a desperate heartfelt plea. (Notice that Jesus asked for a reprieve yet was willing to accept God’s will.)
Kneeling and prostrating yourself is worship in a way. It says, God I am desperate for you; I desperately need you Lord or my need is desperate. I have to admit when I see people lying in front of the altar at church I think it is extreme and, perhaps, unnecessary. Yet, who am I to “judge someone else’s servant?” (Romans 14:4) Maybe I am not desperate enough. Thank God for those who are willing to risk judgment from man to please God. Think about that!
Don’t kneel in false humility, God knows your heart. Jesus said, in relation to the Pharisees, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1 NIV) God knows your heart and hears its desperate cry; kneeling is a prayer in itself. Kneeling is not about comfort; in fact, to physically sacrifice yourself facilitates prayer for you. It says, God I offer you my body in worship (I am not talking about those who physically cannot kneel, etc).
For the skeptics I say, just give it a try and see if you can bless God while He blesses you. I always say that prayer is for us; God moving is not dependent upon our prayers. When we pray it gives God a chance to show us that He is working on our behalf to bless us and to strengthen our faith. Consider the millions of things He must do every day that only He knows about. Before Him we kneel for He is our King.