I can still picture my father praying. His rough, stained and scarred hands would be clasped with his head bowed near them. He was usually on his knees: kneeling beside his bed at night, kneeling by the couch in the living room, kneeling at a dining room chair as we finished family devotions. Prayer meeting at church was spent on our knees too. As a child I took the opportunity to take a nap. I knelt, put my head down on my arms and no one was the wiser, except for the little puddle of drool when I lifted my head.
It was a different time and place. We don’t kneel anymore. Our view of God has shifted from the God of the universe, who should make us tremble (Isaiah 6:5), to our familiar friend, a chum, an ever present vending machine God. A God who is there to serve us, not for us to serve Him. We are the poorer for our shift in perspective.
As I grew and left my father’s house it wasn’t my practice to pray on my knees. I prayed sitting in my chair, lying in bed or as I walked to class. Jesus was my friend who I could approach anytime, anywhere with no notice. The familiarity made me loose the wonder of who he was. I had free access to the God of the universe and I treated him with no more respect than a waiter. After all he was there to meet my needs, right?
I think back to my father who spent most of his prayer time on his knees and realize I have lost something by failing to follow his example. The posture meant something. It was an acknowledgement of our unworthiness and God’s great and awesome self. Must we kneel for God to hear us? No, but if I really grasped who he was I would feel compelled to kneel. It would be my proper response to this one who gives me so much more than I deserve.
I will continue to pray in bed, sitting in a chair, driving my car and while walking because I believe when Jesus promised to be with us he meant for there to be an ongoing dialogue. Yet, I will be making an effort to spend more time on my knees. Simply as a reminder to my forgetful self of who God is and who I am.
“Come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” (Psalm 95:6 NASB)