133. Attitude in Prayer and Praise

“Z. Y. X.” We do not know of any Christians who regard kneeling in prayer as “an imperative duty.” We should feel called upon to protest against such a notion. The New Testament does not lay down any rule as to bodily attitude, and we must say that when Scripture is silent, no one has any right to legislate. We certainly do like to kneel whenever we can. We consider it a suited attitude to express the reverential and devotional feelings of the heart. We are often pained to see people habitually remaining seated while prayer is being offered, and that, too, in cases where bodily health or want of space could not be pleaded as an excuse.
It seems to us to show great want of reverence and solemnity. It looks lazy and self-indulgent. We find our Lord kneeling in prayer. (Luke 22:4141And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, (Luke 22:41).) We find the apostle Paul kneeling with the elders of Ephesus. (Acts 20:3636And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. (Acts 20:36).) It is in every way a becoming posture; but when people undertake to speak of it as “an imperative duty,” we regard it as a piece of unwarrantable assumption. We have often found a quantity of self wrapped up in these little crotchets about bodily attitude in praying or singing. We never find persons of any spirituality or real breadth of mind occupied about such things. Our own feeling as to all such matters is this, let people have their crotchets if they will, let them kneel, or sit, or stand, as they feel led; but let them not attempt to force their crotchets or their attitudes as “an imperative rule” upon other people. If a man gives us a “thus saith the Lord” we shall, by the grace of God, bow to it; but if it be merely a “thus saith Mr. So-and-so,” we must take it for what it is worth.