Prayer Posture

Eugene Peterson

I’m a raving fan of Eugene Peterson.  When he died on October 22, 2018 I wrote a brief reflection on his impact on my life (you can read it here).  I just reread it.  I’d be willing to write 50 more reflections on the impact of his life, writing, and ministry.

Last week I was rereading a Peterson work.  I do this often.  I have a shelf dedicated to Peterson and the books contained on it are well-read and well-loved.

Practice Resurrection is a running commentary and reflection on Ephesians.  Here are Peterson’s thoughts on kneeling before the Father from the opening of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14 …

The physical act of bowing “my knees before the Father” is an act of reverence. It is also an act of voluntary defenselessness.  While on my knees I cannot run away.  I cannot assert myself.  I place myself in a position of willed submission, vulnerable to the will of the person before whom I am bowing.  It is an act of retreating from the action so that I can perceive what the action is without me in it, without me taking up space, without me speaking my piece.  On my knees I am no longer in a position to flex my muscles, strut or cower, hide in the shadows or show off on stage.  I become less so that I can be aware of more – I assume a posture that lets me see what reality looks like without the distorting lens of either my timid avoidance or my aggressive domination. I set my agenda aside for a time and become still, present to God.

As usual, Peterson’s reflection sent me on a week long journey of chasing thoughts and self-examination.

Here is a brief summarization of my pondering:

Prayer is an intimate conversation between God and his people that leads his people to the will of God. Intimate because you are speaking to the God who created you, sustains you, redeems you, and knows you better than you know yourself. Conversation because prayer is meant to be two-sided. We speak to God and God speaks to us. Ultimately, this intimate conversation leads us to God’s will.

When people pray it is common to fold hands, bow heads, and close eyes. Yet, there are numerous prayer postures in the Bible.

Standing (Genesis 24:12-14)

Lifting Hands (1 Timothy 2:8)

Sitting (Judges 20:26)

Kneeling (Mark 1:40)

Bowing Down (Exodus 34:8)

Looking Toward Heaven (John 17:1)

There is no formula to follow in prayer. The key is a heart of humility and submission. We come to God confessing that he is God and we are not. We come to God ready to do as he leads us.

Are you struggling to pray this week?  Perhaps you need to assume a posture of submission to God’s will and not your own.

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