Question:

Believers in Orthodox churches have the biblical truth about body position during prayer. They stand, or kneel, but not sit, which I was taught is spiritual arrogance before the Almighty. Orthodoxy has lots of truth that evangelical protestants don't. Remember that Jesus stood to pray. The apostolic church never sat to pray, except for the elderly or infirm. I still can't make myself sit in any church at prayer. Notice the protestant pastor leading the service does not sit to pray, so why do their congregations?


Answer:

To make a biblical argument, a person needs to cite Scripture and not a particular group's practices to establish the truth.

We should take note that when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, Jesus never mentioned assuming a particular position during the prayer (Luke 11:1-4; Matthew 6:9-15).

When we look at the prayers in the Bible, we find that those praying assumed a variety of positions:

  • Standing (Mark 11:25; Luke 18:10-14)
  • Sitting (I Kings 19:1-5; Nehemiah 1:4)
  • Lying down (II Kings 20:1-3)
  • Kneeling (Luke 22:41-42; Acts 9:40)
    • Kneeling with hands spread toward heaven (I Kings 8:54; Ezra 9:5)
    • Kneeling and bowing down (Psalm 95:6; Ezra 10:1)
  • Bowing down (Psalm 35:13-14)
  • Falling on their face (Matthew 26:39; Numbers 16:20-22)
  • Lifting their face toward God (Daniel 9:3; Psalms 5:3)
  • Uplifted hands (Psalm 28:2)

The wide variety indicates that there is no one set position in which a believer is to pray. Since both Elijah and Nehemiah sat to pray and neither were infirm, the idea that it is wrong to pray while sitting is false.

Many thanks for your good letter. You know, I have learned more from you through e-mails than I have learned in all my time going to churches here. My big problem is that I have not managed to study the Old Testament enough, so please excuse my ignorance. In my defense I can only say that I am very much a novice in my Christian walk with the Lord, as you have gathered.

Regarding prayer: I have been following the Orthodox Church's practice. My big problem is that instead of trying to study Scripture on my own, I have been listening to the Orthodox priests, some of whom need to study the Scripture themselves.