Updated: Nov 29, 2020
When I was a kid, my parents told me to, “fold your hands and close your eyes before you pray.” And so when we had children, we told them the very same things. But where in scripture has God said to the affect, “thou shalt fold thy hands and close thine eyes when praying?”
I’m guessing the idea of children closing their eyes and folding their hands, so they are not distracted makes some sense. For kids. But how about for adults?
In other words, where did we get those ideas and other ideas about prayer, and does God care one way or another about how we pray? The short answer is “yes.” God does give us some instructions and examples in these verses, about our posture:
“We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.” 1 Timothy 2:8
“When Solomon had finished all these prayers and supplications to the Lord, he rose from before the altar of the Lord, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out toward heaven.” 1 Kings 8:54
“But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and cried out, ‘O God, the God who gives breath to all living things, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?’” Numbers 16:22
There are tons of other verses that describe how believers have prayed in scripture. But the truth is, God appears to be far more interested in our attitude in prayer and the content of our prayers, than in our posture. But the purpose of this blog is not about either attitude or content. My purpose is to give you some ideas about how to breath some new life into your prayer life. Because this much is true; every Christian I know has times when their prayer life is boring and lifeless.
So here are some ideas for breaking out of that, which do not violate any clear teaching in scriptures?
Praying out loud Years ago, I began praying out loud. I had several reasons for doing so. First, I found that praying out loud kept my mind from wandering. But more importantly, when I began praying out loud, my prayers became more passionate. I found myself literally crying out to God, or being angry with God, or weeping with the joy I expressed to him out loud.
When I’m all alone, I often pray full-throated, out loud prayers. When others are in the next room, it’s usually a whisper. The volume isn’t important, nor is any prayer said out loud commanded in the Bible. It just adds something important to my worship experience and keeps my attention on God.
Hands raised In every culture, raised hands are the universal sign of surrender. There are all kinds of biblical references to raising hands in prayer. So most of the time, I do just that. I have no idea why so many Old Testament leaders raised their hands in prayer, but if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.
Standing or walking when I pray I’ll also, often stand or walk around as I pray. That’s a completely different thing than praying while driving my car, or working out. Praying while driving or exercising feels like I’m trying to wedge prayer and God into some other activity, just to save time. It does not feel like the sole purpose for my praying is worship and the sole focus is God. When God says, “you shall have no other Gods before me.” I think he means, “I won’t compete with anything or anyone for your attention or allegiance.”
So, I will occasionally go for a walk outdoors, for the sole purpose of prayer. Other times, I’ll walk around the house, eyes wide open, moving and animated, talking to God out loud, just as I would walk and talk with a friend. I wouldn’t walk and talk with my best friend with hands folded and eyes closed.
Romans 12:1 says this; “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
I’ve read scientific studies that indicate way more than half of our personal communication between individuals is body language. My wife can tell more about what I am thinking from my eyes and my shoulders than my words. So, offer your whole body to communicate to God the love, anger, hope and the desires of your heart, just as you would a spouse, or good friend.
It’s time Christians break out of childhood prayer ideas and think more about how you’d like to be spoken to, if you were God. And as you experiment with these ideas, pass them on to your children, grandchildren and those you spiritually mentor.
Question: Do you have things you’ve done to keep your times of prayer fresh? Please share with us.
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