Kneeling or Standing in Prayer?
by Ellen White
As the Son of God bowed in the attitude of prayer in the Garden of
Gethsemane, the agony of His spirit forced from His pores sweat like great drops of blood.
It was here that the horror of great darkness surrounded Him. 2T 203.
Both in public and in private worship, it is our privilege to bow on our knees before the
Lord when we offer our petitions to Him. Jesus, our example, "kneeled down, and
prayed."[LUKE 22:41.] Of His disciples it is recorded that they, too, "kneeled
down, and prayed."[ACTS 9:40; 20:36, 21:5.] Paul declared, "I bow my knees unto
the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."[EPH. 3:14.] In confessing before God the sins
of Israel, Ezra knelt.[SEE EZRA 9:5.] Daniel "kneeled upon his knees three times a
day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God."[DAN. 6:10.] GW 178.
The prayer offered by Solomon during the dedication of the temple, was not made while he
stood upon his feet. The king knelt in the humble position of a petitioner. RH
"For Solomon had made a brazen scaffold, of five cubits long, and five cubits
broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court: and upon it
he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and
spread forth his hands toward heaven." 2 Chron. 6:1-13.
Herein is a lesson for God's people to-day. Our spiritual strength and our influence are
not increased by conformity to a worldly attitude during prayer. In these perilous times,
those who profess to be God's commandment-keeping people should guard against the tendency
to lose the spirit of reverence and godly fear. RH 11/30/98
The Scriptures teach men how to approach their Maker,--with humility and awe, through
faith in a divine Mediator. Let man come on bended knee, as a subject of grace, a
suppliant at the foot-stool of mercy. Thus he is to testify that the whole soul, body, and
spirit are in subjection to his Creator. RH 11/30/1905
I have received letters questioning me in regard to the proper attitude to be taken
by a person offering prayer to the Sovereign of the universe. Where have our
brethren obtained the idea that they should stand upon their feet when praying to
God? One who has been educated for about five years in Battle Creek was asked to
lead in prayer before Sister White should speak to the people. But as I beheld him
standing upright upon his feet while his lips were about to open in prayer to God,
my soul was stirred within me to give him an open rebuke. Calling him by name, I
said, "Get down upon your knees." This is the proper position
always. NBL 119
"And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and
prayed." Luke 22:41.
"Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the
body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat
up." Acts 9:40.
"They stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my
spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to
their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep." Acts 7:59, 60.
"When he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all." Acts
"When we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they
all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city:
and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed." Acts 21:5.
"At the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my
garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord
my God, and said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to Thee, my
God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up
unto the heavens." Ezra 9:5, 6.
"O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our
maker." Ps. 95:6.
"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
To bow down when in prayer to God is the proper attitude to occupy. This act of
worship was required of the three Hebrew captives in Babylon. . . . But such an act
was homage to be rendered to God alone--the Sovereign of the world, the Ruler of the
universe; and these three Hebrews refused to give such honor to any idol, even
though composed of pure gold. In doing so, they would, to all intents and purposes,
be bowing to the king of Babylon. Refusing to do as the king had commanded, they
suffered the penalty, and were cast into the burning fiery furnace. But Christ came
in person and walked with them through the fire, and they received no harm.
Both in public and private worship it is our duty to bow down upon our knees before
God when we offer our petitions to Him. This act shows our dependence upon
God. NBL 119.
I present these proof texts with the inquiry, "Where did Brother ----- obtain
his education?"--At Battle Creek. Is it possible that with all the light that
God has given to His people on the subject of reverence, that ministers, principals,
and teachers in our schools, by precept and example teach young men to stand erect
in devotion as did the Pharisees? Shall we look upon this as significant of their
self-sufficiency and self-importance? Are these traits to become conspicuous?
"And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they
were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the
one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with
himself, God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust,
adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all
that I possess." Mark you it was the self-righteous Pharisee who was not in a
position of humility and reverence before God; but standing in his haughty
self-sufficiency, he told the Lord all his good deeds. "The Pharisee stood and
prayed thus with himself"; and his prayer reached no higher than himself.
"And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes
unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I
tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every
one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall
We hope that our brethren will not manifest less reverence and awe as they approach
the only true and living God than the heathen manifest for their idol deities, or
these people will be our judges in the day of final decision. I would speak to all
who occupy the place of teachers in our schools. Men and women, do not dishonour God
by your irreverence and pomposity. Do not stand up in your Phariseeism and offer
your prayers to God. Mistrust your own strength. Depend not in it; but often bow
down on your knees before God, and worship Him. NBL 120.
We are living in perilous times. Seventh-day Adventists are professedly the
commandment-keeping people of God; but they are losing their devotional spirit. This
spirit of reverence for God teaches men how to approach their Maker--with sacredness
and awe through faith, not in themselves, but in a Mediator. Thus man is kept fast,
under whatever circumstances he is placed. Man must come on bended knee, as a
subject of grace, a suppliant at the footstool of mercy. And as he receives daily
mercies at the hand of God, he is ever to cherish gratitude in his heart, and give
expression to it in the words of thanksgiving and praise for these unmerited
favours. Angels have been guarding his pathway through all his life, and many of the
snares he has been delivered from he has not seen. And for this guardianship
and watchcare by eyes that never slumber and never sleep, he is to recognise in every
prayer the service of God for him. NBL 121.
RETURN TO TOPIC LIST