The posture of prayer

GRAPHIC The more ways I approach

I’ve prayed sitting in a pew. Balanced on my knees on a cushioned kneeler. Standing at the altar, hands on another’s shoulder. In a circle at prayer group, joined hand to hand in unity. I’ve pressed my face into my carpet, distraught and wordless, and I’ve stood with both arms raised high above my head with confidence and praise.

It’s all prayer. It’s all good. And however you approach it, I’m not here to tell you you’re doing it wrong.

What I know, though, is that so often we get stuck in a routine. Before long, actions that once held deep meaning no longer carry any weight. Emotion is replaced with familiarity.

Familiarity can be good. It comes with comfort and peace. You don’t want to lose that.

But I’d like to suggest that maybe you should shake things up once in a while.


A few months ago, on a Sunday morning, I went to the altar to pray. I’d been closing in with God, doing a lot of writing, thinking of Him as a friend. Sitting beside me. Walking next to me.

But that day, as I knelt in prayer, I realized something. I’ve spent time side-by-side, but not enough time at His feet. It’s a posture of surrender. The physical position is important. Because as I sit at His feet, I remember how big He is. How powerful.

I realize that for generations and generations, kings had to grant special approval to let someone enter the throne room. I’ve done nothing to earn that kind of access. But He allows me to approach Him in His sanctuary, this place of peace, away from the chaos and noise. To rest in the shadows of His glory. To draw near in the shelter of His wings. To not have to do anything. To simply be. To be with Him.

Nothing more is required.

Resting my head and shoulder against the throne, leaning near Him, imagining His hand resting on my head, I felt the weight of His majesty. A fatherly gesture of familiarity and comfort. The bestowal of a blessing.

The sweetest of gifts. The greatest.

We can’t control the way God responds to our prayers. But I’ve discovered that I have different types of experiences when I change the posture of my prayer.

Standing with face up and arms open toward the sky makes me feel exultant. I close my eyes and imagine His light shining upon me, His Spirit pouring into me. I’m coming boldly before His throne.

Bowing on my knees makes me feel like I’m coming to Him in humility and supplication, remembering who He is and offering Him respect. Asking Him, humbly and reverently, for help.

Standing, arms open and palms up, I’m talking to Him as a friend. He reaches out His hands to grasp mine, and we stand face to face.

Face down on the floor, awash in emotions, I am physically responding to the almighty power and greatness, the majesty of my God. I am bowing as low as I can in order to lift Him up.

Lying in bed at night, whispering to Him, unloading the burdens I’ve carried all day, I feel a special kind of intimacy. I can imagine His arms holding me tight as He rocks me to sleep.


If the only way I’ve ever experienced God is in silence, the quiet moments might not seem so sweet. If I’ve only ever danced and shouted, I’ve missed the opportunity to hear His still, small voice. If I always humble myself, I may forget that He wants to come face to face with me and build a relationship. And if I simply walk through life with Him beside me, I may lose sight of how powerful and magnificent He is. I may forget that He. Is. God. We’re not equals; He is so much more.

The more ways I approach Him, the more I experience of Him.

What are you doing today? Whether you meet me at the foot of the Almighty God, or we link arms and dance for joy, or we sit down together and talk over coffee, know this: There’s plenty of room for all of us. And He will meet us there.

Kelly Stanley

Kelly O’Dell Stanley is the author of Praying Upside Down and Designed to Pray. A graphic designer who writes (or is it a writer who designs?), she is also a redhead who’s pretty good at controlling her temper, a believer in doing everything to excess, and a professional wrestler of doubt and faith. She blogs at and calls small-town Indiana her home.

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  1. What a great way to think about how we pray to God! I paused and thought about all the ways I pray. Very interesting….. sitting, standing, laying down, walking, singing, silently, out loud, tearfully, joyfully, fearfully, praising, thanking, begging and so much more.
    Thank you for helping me think about how I share my thoughts with Him who loves me so much. 🙂

  2. As I lay up on my bed, head up on my comfy pillow this morning, and read these words my heart is rejoicing.
    Someone also gets it. Posture is important as we lift our hearts in prayers. There are times we must change up things to prevent complacency.
    What a blessing to read your words on prayers and be reminded of the variety God gives us beyond the mundaneness of repetition.
    Thanks be to God.


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