I grew up in a church in which we often knelt as part of the liturgy. I hated kneeling even though the benches were cushioned. Back then, I wondered why God would want us to kneel, which was quite uncomfortable. But recently, I discovered that there’s a good reason for kneeling and a great benefit that comes from it.
The purpose of kneeling isn’t to punish ourselves for our sin to earn God’s approval. When we put all our trust in Jesus to bring us into a relationship with Him, our suffering or good works aren’t needed to earn His favor. Jesus has already done that for us. That was the whole point of His crucifixion and suffering on our behalf. He offers the free gift of washing away our sin when we put our trust in Him rather than in ourselves.
As Christians, the purpose for our kneeling is to offer a sacrifice of worship and gratitude for what He has done for us. While we can worship and pray without kneeling, kneeling before Him is an outward reflection of our inner submission. In addition, the discomfort of kneeling helps us focus while praying and not be distracted by other thoughts and what’s going on around us.
In the book Sermon on the Mount of Messy, author Nicole Horsch writes about the pain of kneeling and describes a scene in which, in full submission to the Lord, she knelt on her bare knees on her unpaved gravel driveway. I was awestruck by the image of my friend placing her every comfort at His feet, especially knowing she has bad knees. She could have walked just a few steps to get inside her house where she could have knelt comfortably. But there was an urgency and a purpose for the position of that prayer.
After leaving my childhood church many years ago, I made it a practice not to kneel as I was praying. Admittedly, it was probably out of rebellion. It wasn’t until recently when God placed several powerful revelations of its value in my path, including those in Nicole’s book, that I got back in that position to pray. I now make it a regular practice, as I realize that the position of my body impacts the position of my heart.
Kneeling hurts, as Nicole reminds us in her book. So, now reflecting on the question I had as a young girl, I’m able to understand the purpose of kneeling. And it became even clearer yesterday when I went out on my deck to pray at lunchtime. I mentioned in a previous blog that I’m overly sensitive to cold. I react more than most people when the temperature drops below 65 degrees. So feeling prompted to go pray on my deck yesterday in 30-degree weather — without a jacket — seemed like a stretch. As I sank down to my knees and the sun shone directly on my face, I realized that the sun hadn’t been on my face when I was standing. It wasn’t until I knelt that I could feel its warmth. As I prayed, I relished in the warmth all over my body because I was aligned directly with the rays of the sun.
It was then that — probably for the first time in my life — I was able to thank God for the cold. The cold helped me to appreciate the warmth. And that day, the submissive heart attitude of my prayer helped me feel the Son’s continued provision for me. I just had to get on my knees to receive it.