2010-04-17 - Posture in Prayer
John 17:1, These things Jesus spoke; and lifting up His eyes to Heaven, He said, Father, the hour has come; glorify Thy Son, that the Son may glorify Thee.
It might seem a small thing, but the Holy Spirit has recorded our Lords posture in this prayer Christ gives for Himself, the disciples, and for us. We see various postures in prayer given to us in Scripture, and I am not advocating one above another. The publican, in Luke 18:13, while looking down toward the ground, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to Heaven. Jesus had no sin in Him, so we would not expect Him to have such a posture as this. Here, He lifted His eyes to Heaven. However, Matthew 26:39 records, And He went a little beyond, and fell on His face and prayed. The Holy Spirit even records this posture of falling down of our Lord. When He healed the deaf man, Mark 7:34, we see Jesus, looking up to Heaven with a deep sigh. In the case of Lazarus, John 11:41, Jesus raised His eyes. There are numerous passages we could look at, but let us notice that the Holy Spirit records for us posture in prayer. It is not insignificant.
We are not given a certain posture in which to pray. We are not under any ceremonial law that requires a form of prayer. We should notice that the Holy Spirit does take notice of our gesture in prayer. Generally the error is that we make too much of the form. We make external observances, to say something that is not going on in the heart. We can be so concerned with appearance, the form of words used, and position of the body, that there is no concern to the inward propensity of the heart. The external is much more easy to practice, even fake. God looks at the heart. It is possible to have so much concern with what our outward form of prayer appears like, that we give no thought to our hearts before God. In this, prayer fails. Let us be more concerned with our humility in prayer, affection towards God, a devoted heart - than we are with how things look on the outside.
Our posture should show some sign of reverence and devotion. It is rare that I share about myself in the devotionals, and I dont set up what I do as an example all should follow, but when I pray in public, I generally cover my eyes. If I am the one praying, I dont usually do this, but if I am praying with someone and they are praying out loud; either in a service, alone with someone, or in a prayer meeting, I will either place one hand over my eyes, or burry my face in both hands. Prayer to the Lord is different than normal conversation, and I think it is important for myself, at least, to look to honor who I am coming before with my outward posture which, in my case, is to cover my eyes when I approach the throne of Gods grace.
Again, I do not think we are bound to outward gestures. It is the heart that matters in prayer. Our outward posture should not exceed our inward consecration. But it does seem significant that the Holy Spirit records for us many of the postures used in prayer by our Lord and by His servants in Scripture.
Soli Deo Gloria,