Then He [Jesus] withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed.
I will always remember the night my father was rushed to the hospital having had a heart attack and placed in intensive care. When I returned home that night I got down on my knees to pray for my dad. I usually prayed sitting in a chair or lying on my bed. But that didn’t feel the right way to pray that night. I felt compelled to fall on my knees.
As a hospital and prison chaplain I sometimes saw people praying for the first time and feeling the need to pray on their knees. The posture seemed almost a prayer in itself. Our Lord Jesus in the darkness of Gethsemane also got down on His knees to pray. To get down on our knees seems something almost inborn and intuitive for expressing urgency as we pray. English theologian David Peterson describes the force of praying on our knees:
Whatever the situation it was a recognition of total dependence of one party on another for the provision of some need…Sometimes it was associated with an outburst of praise, but sometimes the gesture itself appears to have been sufficient to express the trust and gratitude of those concerned. (Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship)
The first Christian martyr, Stephen, fell on his knees talking with God as he was dying (Acts 7:60). Peter knelt beside the dead body of Tabitha, asking God to raise her back to life (Acts 9:40). Paul fell to his knees praying as he said his final goodbye to the Ephesian Christians (Acts 20:36). Kneeling as we pray is expressive body language and the embodiment of surrender to God. In kneeling we go down into the very dust from which we were created, acknowledging our total reliance on our Creator and Redeemer.
- Kneel as you pray today.
- Conclude your prayer with The Lord’s Prayer.
- Take a few moments to reflect on what it was like for you to kneel in prayer.
“If your knees knock together, kneel on them.”
This appeared on a sign in front of a London church during World War II, when the bombing was intense.