THE ONLY WAY TO PRAY IN WORSHIP-2
the Bible, men generally knelt or fell on their faces when they prayed
to the God of heaven. The harmony on this point is as remarkably
consistent as is the truth about the seventh-day Sabbath being the only
true weekly Sabbath of the Lord. If we keep the Bible Sabbath, we surely
ought to kneel when we pray in worship to our Creator!
exceptions, of course, were when men prayed as they went about their
work, suddenly encountered an emergency, or were situated in such a way
that they could not kneel.)
are some of the passages where men of God knelt; there are others:
Genesis 24:12-14, Eliezer prayed at the well for help, and Rebekah
arrived "before he had done speaking" (24: 15). There is no
indication that he knelt. But, when he learned it was Rebekah, a kinswoman
who was arriving, he bowed in a prayer of worship.
the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the Lord. "Genesis
probably knelt or fell on his face during this prayer. Rebekah was so
startled that she ran home. Similar phrasing formulas ("bowing in
worship") are given three times in Exodus, and probably always
indicate kneeling or falling on the face in a worshipful prayer. Here
the people believed: and when they heard that the Lord had visited the
children of Israel [by sending Moses to deliver them], and that he had
looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and
is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover, who passed over the houses of
the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and
delivered our houses. And the people [as they realized they were about
to be rescued from Egyptian domination] bowed the head and
the above passages, the phrase, "bowing," is used. But they
were probably all bowing with the face to the ground. The word,
"bow in prayer," in the Bible, probably means to kneel with
one's head on the ground.
Moses [as the Lord passed by] made haste, and bowed his head toward the
earth, and worshipped."-Exodus 34:8.
are additional passages, in which God's people bowed on their knees in
at the evening sacrifice [Ezra, having learned of the apostasy of his
people] . . fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my
come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our
when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house;
and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled
upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his
God, as he did aforetime."-Daniel 6:10.
people in New Testament times also bowed on their knees in prayer. The
crucifixion had not freed them from that duty:
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."-Acts 7:59-60.
put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed."-Acts 9:40.
he [Paul] had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them
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.
bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."-Ephesians
by now, you recognize that the above passages do not necessarily mean
just "kneeling," but may indicate kneeling with the face down
-even to the ground. In some instances, the seeker after God lays
prostrate-flat-on the ground while praying.
are two principles here: First, we are not told that we must do this:
kneeling alone is acceptable when we worship God.
there seems to be a pattern when people fall prostrate on the ground, or
bow with their faces to the ground: They are either in the immediate
presence of God or believe that they are.
the burning bush, when God made His presence known] And Moses hid his
face; for he was afraid to look upon God."-Exodus 3:6.
Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and
worshipped."-Exodus 34:8, And Moses and Aaron went from the
presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the
congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the Lord
appeared unto them, "-Numbers 20:6,
Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto
him, What said my Lord unto His servant?"-Joshua 5:14.
Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah
and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, worshipping the
Lord,"-2 Chronicles 20: 18.
when one passage speaks about "kneeling," another clarifies it
as meaning bowing with the face to the ground. Here are three descriptions
of Christ's first prayer in the Garden:
He [Christ] was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled
down, and prayed."-Luke 22:41.
He went a little farther, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, 0 my
Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless; not
as I will, but as thou wilt," -Matthew 26:39.
He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it
were possible, the hour might pass from him,"-Mark 14:35.
adds this comment:
in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and
supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to
save him," Hebrews 5:7.
the Bible, we are only told that Solomon knelt and prayed (2 Chronicles
6: 13-14; cr. 1 Kings 8:22). But, in an inspired commentary on that
event, we are given more detail, and told how that worship prayer was
then knelt. . and . . lifting his hands toward heaven, while the
congregation were bowed with their faces to the ground, the king pleaded
[in prayer]."-Prophets and Kings, 40:1.
examples could be cited. In the Bible, the word, "kneeling,"
meant entering into a position of deepest worship before the Lord our
Maker. When there was sufficient depth to the experience, an even more
reverent expression occurred.
us now behold how Christ prayed in the Garden:
prayer is heard. While He is bowed in lowliness upon the stony ground,
suddenly the heavens open, the golden gates of the city of God are
thrown wide, and holy radiance descends upon the mount, enshrouding the
Saviour's form. Divinity from within flashes through humanity, and meets
the glory coming from above. Arising from His prostrate position,
Christ stands in godlike majesty," Desire of Ages, 421:1,
went a little distance from them-not so far but that they could both see
and hear him-and fell prostrate upon the ground, He felt that by sin He
was being separated from His Father,"-Desire of Ages, 686:3.
Him contemplating the price to be paid for the human soul. In His agony
He clings to the cold ground, as if to prevent Himself from being drawn
farther from God, The chilling dew of night falls upon His prostrate
form, but He heeds it not. "-Desire of Ages, 687:2.
away, Jesus sought again His retreat, and fell prostrate, overcome by
the horror of a great darkness. The humanity of the Son of God trembled
in that trying hour. He prayed not now for His disciples that their
faith might not fail, but for His own tempted, agonized soul, The awful
moment had come-that moment which was to decide the destiny of the
world. The fate of humanity trembled in the balance,"-Desire of
in Old Testament times knew how to pray as Elijah did. We have this
description of him in prayer:
Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of
Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face
between his knees."-1 Kings 18:42.
[Elijah] then intercedes in behalf of sinning, apostate Israel. In the
most painful position, his face bowed between his knees, he most
earnestly supplicates God to send rain. He does not become impatient
and faithless because the Lord does not immediately give the token that
his prayer is heard. He continues in earnest prayer, sending his servant
seven times to see if God has granted any signal."-3 Testimonies,
humbled himself until he was in a condition where he would not take
the glory to himself. This is the condition upon which the Lord hears
prayer, for then we shall give the praise to Him." 2 Bible
Commentary, 1035:1 [also read the next paragraph].
was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly
that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of
three years and six months.
he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth
her fruit."-James 5:17-18.
concluding this section, it is of interest to note that, when men were
in the presence of God (or thought they were), they would fall at His
feet. They were not necessarily praying, but were in deepest worship.
this happened to Ezekiel, for he was afterward strengthened to arise to
his feet (Ezekiel 2:1-2). He again fell on his face (3:23) and, once
again, was raised to his feet (3:24). Compare Mark 5:22; 7:25; Luke
8:41; 17:16; John 11:32; Acts 10:25; 26:16.
Daniel and John the Revelator fell at the feet of an angel, thinking he
was God. (Interestingly enough, in both instances we are elsewhere told
that the angel was Gabriel.)
he came near where I stood; and when he came, I was afraid, and fell
upon my face: but he said unto me . . Now as he was speaking With me, I
was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground. But he touched me, and
set me upright."-Daniel 8:17-18.
I fell at his [the angel's] feet to worship him. And he said unto me,
See thou do it not: I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy
brethren."-Revelation 19: 10 [repeated in 22:8-9].
John and Ellen White described an experience of coming into the
presence of Christ:
when I saw Him [Christ], I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his
right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the
last." Revelation 1: 17.
tried to shield myself from His [Christ's] gaze, feeling unable to
endure His searching eyes, but He drew near With a smile, and, laying
His hand upon my head, said: 'Fear not.' The sound of His sweet voice
thrilled my heart with a happiness it had never before experienced. I
was too joyful to utter a word, but, overcome with ineffable happiness,
sank prostrate at His feet.
I was lying helpless there, scenes of beauty and glory passed before me,
and I seemed to have reached the safety and peace of heaven. At length
my strength returned, and I arose. The loving eyes of Jesus were still
upon me, and His smile filled my soul with gladness. His presence filled
me with holy reverence and an inexpressible love. "-Early Writings,
are several passages, which may appear to contradict the Scriptural rule
that we should kneel when worshiping God. These are instances of standing
prayers. Let us examine each of them:
are several instances in which God suddenly spoke to men, and they
answered Him. One example would be when the Lord spoke to the child
Samuel as he lay in bed. But such occurrences, obviously, are not
there are instances in which men, in times of great emergency, cried to
the Lord. One example would be Sampson, as he stood by the pillars, just
before pulling down the temple of Dagon. He was not engaged in worship,
but crying for help.
would be Nehemiah, when he darted a prayer up to God before answering
the question of the King, before whom he stood. The Spirit of Prophecy
highly commends Nehemiah's action. In the midst of his ongoing work, and
in a time of emergency when he needed just the right words and response,
-he quickly sent up a prayer for guidance. It was an emergency
situation; he was in the middle of his work, and did not need to kneel.
question [from Artaxerxes] gave the opportunity for which Nehemiah had
long waited: 'For what does thou make request?' But the man of God did
not venture to reply till he had sought direction from One higher than
Artaxerxes . . 'I prayed,' he said, 'to the God of heaven.' In that
brief prayer Nehemiah pressed into the presence of the King of kings and
won to his side a power that can turn hearts as the rivers of waters are
pray as Nehemiah prayed in his hour of need is a resource at the command
of the Christian under circumstances when other forms of prayer may be
impossible."-Prophets and Kings, 631:1-2.
kind Father is very practical, and He neither expects nor requires
changed body positions when we pray in the midst of our daily duties. He
is more concerned that we keep praying as we work!
in mind that the Scriptural plan is that we should bow on our knees in
prayer during worship, if at all possible. When emergencies arise or as
we go about our daily work, we are not in a worship situation and we can
pray as we sit, stand, or while resting.
there are three special passages, which some consider to be problems.
They appear to violate the rule to kneel during worship prayers:
is the problem passage, as presented by those who declare it is all
right to stand to pray in worship to God: 'And the king turned his face,
and blessed the whole congregation of Israel: and all the congregation
he said, Blessed by the Lord God of Israel, who hath With his hands
fulfilled that which he spake with his mouth to my father David, saying,
Since the day that I brought forth my people. .
. . [Prayer] . .
when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from
heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the
glory of the Lord filled the house."-2 Chronicles 6:17:1.
the argument goes, the above passage indicates that Solomon stood when
he prayed at the dedication of the Temple. This passage has been cited
as evidence that it is not necessary to kneel during a worship prayer.
when we look more closely at this, and its parallel passage in 1 Kings,
we find that Solomon did, indeed, kneel during this prayer. In addition,
we will learn that, while he kneeled, all the congregation fell on
is this closer analysis:
Solomon blessed the congregation. We are told that he stood while doing
this (2 Chronicles 6:3-11 and 1 Kings 8:12-21).
the blessing was concluded, King Solomon remained standing (2 Chronicles
6: 12; 1 Kings 8:22). Then he began the dedicatory prayer. But did he
first kneel before giving that prayer?
The beginning of the prayer: It is true that 2 Chronicles 6:12 and 1
Kings 8:22 tell us that Solomon was standing when he was about to begin
his prayer. But many people overlook the fact that 2 Chronicles 6:13
says he then knelt to begin the prayer, So he did kneel during that
Solomon had made a brazen scaffold, . and upon it he stood, and kneeled
down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread
forth his hands toward heaven. And said. . "-2 Chronicles 6:13-14.
The end of the prayer: It is true that 2 Chronicles 7:1 does not say
what his position was when the prayer ended, But 1 Kings 8:54 clearly
states that he had been kneeling during that prayer! 'And it was so,
that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and
supplication unto the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord,
from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven. And he
stood, and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud
voice,"-1 Kings 8:54-55.
It should not be surprising that the mention of Solomon's getting on his
knees should have been omitted in one or the other of those parallel passages,
There is evidence of other omissions: For example, 2 Chronicles 7:1
does not mention the final blessing of the people, which is recorded in
1 Kings 8:55-61.
The Spirit of Prophecy clearly, in the most definite words, clarifies
the matter: Solomon and all the people stood as he blessed the people.
Then, we are told, he knelt-and, with him, all the congregation knelt
this [platform] Solomon stood and with uplifted hands blessed the vast
multitude before him, and all the congregation of Israel stood.' [He
blessed them] . . Solomon then knelt upon the platform, and in the
hearing of all the people offered the dedicatory prayer. Lifting his
hands toward heaven, while the congregation were bowed with their faces
to the ground, the king pleaded. ."Prophets and Kings, 39:2-40:1
[cf. 2 Selected Messages, 312:8-313:2],
Solomon stood upon a brazen scaffold before the altar and blessed the
people. He then knelt down and, with his hands raised upward, poured
forth earnest and solemn prayer to God while the congregation were bowed
with their faces to the ground. After Solomon had ended his prayer, a
miraculous fire came from heaven and consumed the sacrifice."-Story
of Redemption, 194:3.
After concluding a description of that entire worship service, several
pages later Ellen White returns to one aspect of the service, in order
to emphasize it more strongly: the fact that the great Solomon kneeled
to pray. According to her, this act of kneeling on his part, revealed a
genuineness to his Christian experience. Then we are told that we today
must also kneel, lest we lose the sense of God's holiness and majesty.
humility of Solomon at the time he began to bear the burdens of state,
when he acknowledged before God, 'I am but a little child' (1 Kings
3:7), his marked love of God, his profound reverence for things divine,
his distrust of self, and his exaltation of the infinite Creator of
all- all these traits of character, so worthy of emulation, were
revealed during the services connected with the completion of the
temple, when during his dedicatory prayer he knelt in the humble
position of a petitioner. Christ's followers today should guard against
the tendency to lose the spirit of reverence and godly fear. The
Scriptures teach men how they should approach their Maker-with humility
and awe, through faith in a divine Mediator. The psalmist has declared:
'The Lord is a great God, and a mighty King above all gods. . 0 come,
let us worship and bow down: Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.'
in public and in private worship it is our privilege to bow on our knees
before God 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. Paul declared, 'I
bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.' Ephesians 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,' Daniel 6: 10.
reverence for God is inspired by a sense of His infinite greatness and a
realization of His presence. With this sense of the Unseen, every
heart should be deeply impressed. The hour and place of prayer are
sacred, because God is there. And as reverence is manifested in attitude
and demeanor, the feeling that inspires it will be deepened. 'Holy and
reverend is His name,' the psalmist declares. Psalm 111:9. Angels, when
they speak that name, veil their faces. With what reverence, then,
should we, who are fallen and sinful, take it upon our lips! "Well
would it be for old and young to ponder those words of Scripture that
show how the place marked by God's special presence should be regarded.
'Put off thy shoes from off thy feet,' He commanded Moses at the
burning bush, 'for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground,'
Exodus 3:5. Jacob, after beholding the vision of the angel, exclaimed,
'The Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. . This is none other but
the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven,' Genesis
28:16-17." Prophets and Kings, 48:1-49:1.
example cited as evidence that it is not necessary to kneel while
praying, is the fact that Jesus Himself spoke of standing in prayer:
"Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them.
. When thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the
hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets. . And when thou
prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray
standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they
may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their
really, who wants to use the hypocrites as an example for how he should
pray during worship! Jesus was not recommending the actions of the
there is the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, who were praying
in the temple: "Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a
Pharisee, and the other publican.
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
the publican, standing far off, would not lift up so much as his eyes
unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a
this instance, the publican was standing, praying, and doing it in
church. And Jesus commended him. Is this, at last, an exception to the
rule? . Believing that Scripture is always consistent with itself, let
us examine this passage more closely:
The man was in the process of coming to God. He did not know how to
properly approach Him. If a pagan sat or stood, while in sincere prayer
for forgiveness of sin, -would not Jesus commend his prayer and receive
him? Of course, He would.
The contrast in the parable was between the Pharisee who knew so much
truth, who prayed "to himself," not to God in heaven, vs. the
heathen publican who, in utter genuineness and humility of spirit, pled
with God for forgiveness. -And, as a result, he was justified! (Many
spend years trying to figure out the meaning of "justification by
faith," yet this poor man received it within a few minutes!)
"I tell you that this man went down to his house justified!"
The publican prayed the prayer privately in church. It was not a worship
prayer; it was a plea for forgiveness and acceptance.
This prayer is like those which Ellen White conducted at the conclusion
of public meetings, in which she called for individuals to dedicate
their lives to God-and then led them in prayer while standing, Such
prayers are not prayers of worship. They are prayers of repentance and
surrender. (However, the statements quoted earlier indicate that, when
practical, she preferred to have the audience kneel during such a
prayer, But it was in no way required.)
we find no instances in the Bible when God's faithful ones prayed a
worship prayer to Him while standing or sitting. Why then do moderns do
it? Convenience and appearance-the same reasons they sprinkle their
babies, go to church on the first day of the week, and carry around
beautiful Bibles, which they rarely open.
often should we pray during the day? Here are some interesting
statements, which also reveal how often we should, if possible, worship
God on our knees each day:
when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house;
and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled
upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his
God, as he did aforetime,"-Daniel 6:10.
and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear
my voice. "--Psalm 55:17.
following Christ, looking unto Him who is the Author and Finisher of
your faith, you will feel that you are working under His eye, that you
are influenced by His presence, and that He knows your motives. At every
step you will humbly inquire: Will this please Jesus? Will it glorify
God? Morning and evening your earnest prayers should ascend to God for
His blessing and guidance. True prayer takes hold upon Omnipotence and
gives us the victory. Upon his knees the Christian obtains strength to
resist temptation."-4 Testimonies, 615:4-616:0.
father who is the 'house band' of the family will bind his children to
the throne of God by living faith. Distrusting his own strength, he
hangs his helpless soul on Jesus and takes hold of the strength of the
Most High. Brethren, pray at home, in your family, night and morning;
pray earnestly in your closet; and while engaged in your daily labor,
lift up the soul to God in prayer. It was thus that Enoch walked with
God. The silent, fervent prayer of the soul will rise like holy incense
to the throne of grace and will be acceptable to God as if offered in
the sanctuary. To all who thus seek Him, Christ becomes a present help
in time of need. "-4 Testimonies, 616:1.
mind was given that you might be keen to discern your God-given
opportunities. Your ears are to listen for the commands of God. Your
knees are to bow three times a day in heartfelt prayer. Your feet are to
run in the way of God's commandments. Thought, effort, talent, should
be put into exercise, that you may be prepared to graduate into the
school above and hear from the lips of one who has overcome all
temptations in our behalf the words: 'To him that overcometh will I
grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set
down with My Father in His throne.' 'Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If
thou wilt walk in My ways, and if thou wilt keep My charge, then thou
shalt also judge My house, and shalt also keep My courts, and I will
give thee places to walk among these that stand by.' Revelation 3:21;
Zechariah 3:7. If you do not co-operate with the Lord by giving yourself
to Him and doing His service you will be judged unfit to be a subject of
His pure, heavenly kingdom." Testimonies, 298:0.
is additional helpful information about the best positions during
prayer, when others are present. Our Father kindly helps us understand
better ways of praying:
long prayers made by some ministers have been a great failure. Praying
to great length, as some do, is all out of place. They injure the throat
and vocal organs, and then they talk of breaking down by their hard
labor. They injure themselves when it is not called for. Many feel that
praying injures their vocal organs more than talking. This is a consequence
of the unnatural position of the body, and the manner of holding the
head. They can stand and talk, and not feel injured. The position in
prayer should be perfectly natural. Long praying wearies, and is not in
accordance with the gospel of Christ. Half or even quarter of an hour is
altogether too long. A few minutes' time is long enough to bring your
case before God and tell Him what you want; and you can take the people
with you and not weary them out and lessen their interest in devotion
and prayer. They may be refreshed and strengthened, instead of
exhausted. "-2 Testimonies, 617:2.
Christ taught the people, He did not devote the time to prayers. He
did not enforce upon them, as did the Pharisees, long, tedious ceremonies
and prayer. He taught His disciples how to pray: 'And when thou prayest,
thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing
in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be
seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou,
when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut the
door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which
seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not
vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be
heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for
Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.
After this manner therefore pray ye.' "-2 Testimonies,
many offer their prayer in a dry, sermonizing manner. These pray to
men, not to God. If they were praying to God, and really understood what
they were doing, they would be alarmed at their audacity; for they
deliver a discourse to the Lord in the mode of prayer, as though the
Creator of the universe needed special information upon general
questions in relation to things transpiring in the world. All such
prayers are as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. They are made no
account of in heaven. Angels of God are wearied with them, as well as
mortals who are compelled to listen to them.
was often found in prayer. He resorted to the lonely groves or to the
mountains to make His requests known to His Father. When the business
and cares of the day were ended, and the weary were seeking rest, Jesus
devoted the time to prayer. We should not discourage prayer, for there
is far too little praying and watching thereto. And there is still less
praying with the Spirit and the understanding also. Fervent and
effectual prayer is always in place, and will never weary. Such prayer
interests and refreshes all who have a love for devotion.
prayer is neglected, and this is why many offer such long, tedious,
backslidden prayers when they assemble to worship God. They go over in
their prayers a week of neglected duties, and pray round and round,
hoping to make up for their neglect and pacify their condemned
consciences, which are scourging them. They hope to pray themselves into
the favor of God. But frequently these prayers result in bringing
other minds down to their own low level in spiritual darkness. If
Christians would take home the teaching of Christ in regard to watching
and praying, they would become more intelligent in their worship of
God."-2 Testimonies, 581 :2-582:2.
let not those who kneel round the family altar put their faces in their
hands and in their chair when they address God. Let them lift up their
heads and, with holy awe and boldness, come to the throne of
grace."-Adventist Home, 435:3.
not those who kneel around the family altar put their faces in their
hands close down to the chair when they address God. Let them lift up
their heads and with holy awe speak to their heavenly Father, uttering
their words in tones that can be heard."-6 Testimonies, 381:4.
am pained as I see how little the gift of speech is appreciated. In
reading the Bible, in engaging in prayer, in bearing testimony in
meeting, how necessary is clear, distinct utterance! And how much is
lost in family worship when the one offering prayer bows the face down
and speaks in a low, feeble voice! But as soon as family worship is
over, those who could not speak loud enough to be heard in prayer, can
usually speak in clear, distinct tones, and there is no difficulty in
hearing what they say. Prayer that is thus uttered is appropriate for
the closet, but not edifying in family or public worship; for unless
those assembled can hear what is said, they cannot say Amen. Nearly all
can speak loud enough to be heard in ordinary conversation, and why
should they not speak thus when called upon to bear testimony or to
speaking of divine things, why not speak in distinct tones, and in a
manner that will make it manifest that you know whereof you speak, and
are not ashamed to show your colors? Why not pray as if you had a
conscience void of offense, and could come to the throne of grace in
humility, yet with holy boldness, lifting up holy hands without wrath
and doubting? Do not bow down and cover up your faces as if there were
something that you desired to conceal; but lift up your eyes toward the
heavenly sanctuary, where Christ your Mediator stands before the
Father to present your prayers, mingled with His own merit and spotless
righteousness, as fragrant incense. "-Counsels to Teachers, 241: 12.
sermonizing prayers are uncalled for and out of place in public. A short
prayer, offered in fervor and faith, will soften the hearts of the hearers;
but during long prayers they wait impatiently, as if wishing that every
word might end it. Had the minister making such a prayer wrestled with
God in his chamber until he felt that his faith could grasp the promise,
'Ask and it shall be given you," he would in his public prayer have
come to the point at once, asking with earnestness and faith for grace
for himself and his hearers."-Gospel Workers, 179:2.
have found the inspired statements to be both clear and consistent.
There are different types of prayer at different times. We can generally
pray in any position. Our Father is far more anxious that we pray than
what our position may be when we do it.
there is a strong exception to this: He requires that we get on our
knees, as the very minimum, when we are worshiping Him. As with all His
other requirements, this one is for our best good. You have read the
statements and know, by this time, why it is for our best good.
the humble who have learned to obey God's words, will go through to the
end. They alone will obtain the victory over sin; they alone will
erelong stand on the sea of glass-there to fall before Him and worship
Him, as they did on earth.
years ago, in 1965, an earnest Christian friend told me this: "I
stand when I speak to an equal. I get on one knee, when I speak to an
earthly ruler. I get on both knees when I speak to God."
thank the Lord, that the day is coming when every creature in the
universe will bow the knee in prayer to God! Let us now-before that
time-begin. Only the wicked will wait until later to do it. Those who
worship their God appropriately now will do so with thankfulness-now
and later. Those who wait till after probation-will do it in terror.
is it that, in this world, men and women hesitate to kneel before God?
Yet the time is coming when every knee shall bow in solemn worship.
have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness,
and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue
shall swear."-Isaiah 45:23.
I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue
shall confess to God."-Romans 14:11.
God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above
every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things
in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that
every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of
God the Father. "-Philippians 2:9-11.
if entranced, the Wicked have looked upon the coronation of the Son of
God. They see in His hands the tables of the divine law, the statutes
which they have despised and transgressed. They Witness the outburst of
wonder, rapture, and adoration from the saved; and as the wave of melody
sweeps over the multitudes without the city, all with one voice exclaim,
'Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are
Thy ways, Thou King of saints'; and. falling prostrate, they worship the
Prince of life. "-Great Controversy, 668:4-669:0.
sees that his voluntary rebellion has unfitted him for heaven. . His
accusations against the mercy and justice of God are now silenced. The
reproach which he has endeavored to cast upon Jehovah rests wholly upon
himself. And now Satan bows down and confesses the justice of his sentence."-Great
concluding this study, those whom it was shown to in advance said that
it was insufficient: There also needed to be suggestions as to how to
adapt the Bible/Spirit of Prophecy pattern to the situation we find in
our church services now.
present writer has had some experience with dealing with that. So here
are several suggestions: "There are generally four prayers during
worship services in our churches.
SILENT PRAYERThe first is a silent prayer by those on the
platform, just after they enter:
is the first part of the traditional church service:
Those leading out in the service enter the platform, and (2) the
audience stands respectfully as those on the platform kneel in silent
prayer. Then all stand and sing the doxology together. (3) The speaker
steps forward and gives a prayer while everyone stands.
us consider how the silent prayer relates to the Bible-Spirit of
present writer found no instance in Scripture in which the leaders of
a worship group prayed to God-while others stood about them, or in front
of them. We rarely find such conduct even outside of a worship
gathering! When a Christian kneels down to pray about an important
matter, fellow Christians in the room do not stand around him! They
kneel with him.
minister (or other speaker) is supposed to be the one who will speak
words from God's Word to the people in that worship service, and he is
kneeling to re-establish that vital contact-before bringing God's
message to the people.
would the congregation be standing at such a solemn moment! He has
entered the presence of the God of heaven-and there they are, standing
like soldiers at attention! Why? Who told them to do that? God's Word
surely did not.
theory, that they are "showing respect," is a fallacious one:
They are not showing respect for the act of prayer. If they really
believed that the mouthpiece of God was on his knees beseeching the King
of heaven for help, -the congregation would be on their knees also,
adding their silent pleas to his! To merely stand there is ridiculous.
For the same reasons, they are not showing respect for the minister, the
event, for God, or themselves. The minister needs their concerted,
though silent, prayers also at such an important time. The event demands
it. Reverence to God requires that they get on their knees, for they are
in His presence while His servant is praying! Lastly, the Bible pattern
is that "all ye are brethren," All are to kneel and plead for
Christ's help in this service. For the congregation to stand while the
speaker kneels is akin to the papal concept that only certain people can
approach God on behalf of the rest.
initial silent prayer is quite obviously a worship prayer. Not even
the heathen in Arabia or India stand during their worship prayers!
in mind that many in the audience know of friends who need spiritual
help at that gathering. They should be on their knees praying silently
as those on the platform do. The congregation will also know about
visitors there that day, who need special prayer. We should not expect
those on the platform to know all these needs. United prayer is always
more powerful. Why rob the congregation of an opportunity to pray, as is
done during the traditional initial silent prayer?
should be done to solve this problem? The answer is that everyone in the
auditorium, who is physically able to do so, should kneel and silently
pray at the same time that those on the podium do.
INVOCATION-The invocation is also a worship prayer. It should
be given while kneeling! It is true that this could produce the effect
of an "updown-up-down" pattern: The ministers enter and
everyone up; the ministers and people kneel -and It everyone down;
everyone rises to sing the doxology up; everyone kneels for the
invocation-down again. This smacks of the mindless traditional forms we
see when we attend a Catholic mass: up, down, up, down. A meaningful
church service should have a calm, worshipful atmosphere and a purposive
flow. Everything that is done should have a reason, and it should be a
reason based on obedience to God's Word.
is the solution? The solution is to rearrange the order of service.
Here is a revised first section of the worship service: (1) Someone
comes out onto the platform and gives the name of the speaker for that
morning, the purpose of the offering, announcements of coming events,
but not the worship hymn numbers. (These will be posted on a front
wall. No announcements will be given during the worship service.) (2)
Everyone arises as those who are ministering enter. (3) Following the
lead of the speaker, all kneel together for silent prayer. All are
silently praying for God's blessing on that meeting and on those in
attendance. (4) Then, while all are still on their knees, the speaker
prays aloud, giving the invocation. (5) All arise together and sing the
very nice, orderly, and meaningful such an order of service is!
OFFERING PRAYER AND WORSHIP PRAYER
central portion of worship is also important. Here is the middle part of
the traditional church service: (1) Announcements are made of coming picnics,
movies, and whatnots. (2) Perhaps a Scripture reading, (3) followed by
an opening hymn. (4) The offering prayer is given (while everyone is
sitting, many of them fumbling for their wallets or purses!). (5) Then
the offering is taken, (6) followed by the pastoral prayer (during which
all kneel), (7) special music, (8) and the sermon.
did not mention the timing of the music; that is generally done all
right-when it is proper music and properly played. The organist and
pianist often provide a more worshipful atmosphere than do the
speakers, with their standing prayers, announcements of coming shows,
long ingathering pleas, and jokes in the pulpit.
this normal arrangement, the only kneeling prayer in the entire church
service is the pastoral prayer. What decadent lives we live! Little
wonder we have no spiritual power! We have forgotten how to pray to our
will get down on our knees to change the crankcase oil, plant beans, or
pull weeds. But we sit or stand in prayer, showing how little respect we
have for the act of entering our Creator's presence! Many of God's
professed people only kneel in prayer one time a week-during the
pastor's prayer at church. Pitiful. Such pathetic living produces spiritual
misery; and, to make matters worse, many blame their kind Father for the
daily trials they face all alone. They are like orphans, wandering
can we improve on this?
would do it by a little rearranging, combining the offering and
pastoral prayer, and changing the pattern at the close. We need to make
it worshipful and more in harmony with God's Word. Of course, only
those will kneel who are able to do so: Here is a revised middle section
of the worship service:
Scripture reading, if it is desired (we would recommend it). (2) The
worship hymn. (3) Without any announcement at this time, assistants
quietly begin taking the offering, starting from the front. (4) When
the offering has been taken, the pastor arises and calls the people to
the worship prayer. He may mention the needs of certain ones who are
sick or injured. Then all kneel, and the pastor prays earnestly
(earnestly!). During that prayer he mentions in passing the offering
which was just taken. (5) Special music. (6) The sermon.
will note that, in this revised format, the name of the opening hymn has
been changed to the worship hymn, for that is what it is. The pastoral
prayer is now the worship prayer. The worship hymn, prayer, and sermon
constitute the worship gathering.
us now consider what occurs after the sermon is concluded:
CONSECRATION PRAYER-You will recall the footnote, quoted
earlier, which said that Ellen White gave benedictions while standing.
The present writer found not one statement about her giving a benediction!
Perhaps on occasion she did, but that is not what was in the statements.
Every instance cited, in which she gave a closing prayer of any sort
(standing or kneeling)-was a dedicatory prayer following a
consecration call; it was not a benediction, which is just a routine,
concluding prayer to end the service.
is the last part of the traditional church service: (1) Closing hymn.
(2) Someone asks everyone to stand, and then he gives a quick prayer.
(3) The meeting adjourns.
can this be done better?
is a revised final section of the worship service: (1) The call is
given. (A call for souls to come forward and accept Christ for the first
time. This is followed by extending the call, to make it a consecration
call for the others. When possible, they can be asked to press to the
front, but this may not always be feasible.) [Alternative: On some
Sabbaths, have a consecration call; on others have the audience give
testimonies.] (2) Next comes an earnest consecration prayer (kneeling or
standing). (3) A closing hymn, if desired (or a couple stanzas of a song
can be sung softly during the call to come to the front). (4) If
desired, the speaker could bless the congregation with God's favor and
help through the coming week. (5) The meeting is adjourned (while those
who have made an initial, or special, decision meet with the pastor in
it is thought best to do so, the audience is asked to kneel for this
prayer. By this kneeling response, they can more wholeheartedly pledge
their personal acknowledgment of love and devotion to God. But kneeling
is not a necessity, for this call and consecration is not part of the
main worship service. The people are not worshiping God, but initiating
or renewing their acceptance of Him as their Lord. Ellen White
apparently had them kneel when the auditorium was not crowded. We do not
know, but it may also be that she had them kneel when most of those in
attendance were Advent believers. Keep in mind that she frequently spoke
to large audiences, primarily composed of non-Adventists.
the above conclusion to the service lends itself well to bringing your
friends to the service, so they can accept Christ and begin Bible studies.
We are told that, in every audience, there are souls who want to come to
alternative to the consecration call would be to invite the audience to
stand and give testimonies of their experience and love for Jesus. This
is a sweet experience, one which the early pioneers deeply appreciated.
will notice that we have eliminated the benediction. Actually, the
traditional concluding prayer is not one! A "benediction" is a
blessing on the congregation, pronounced by the speaker at the beginning
or close of the service. It is Biblical. But a true, brief Biblical
benediction could be given at the close of the worship gathering. A true
benediction-a blessing upon them-would cheer the hearts of the departing
congregation and encourage them for the oncoming week.
you will study the blessing uttered by Solomon in the Bible (2
Chronicles 6:3-11; 1 Kings 8:14-21), you will find that it was given
while he and all the congregation stood, and that it primarily consisted
of praising the Lord for His protecting care.
ENTIRE SERVICE-Here is this entire suggested, revised order of
worship service. It is not stuck in concrete, so do what you want with
it: (1) Someone comes out onto the platform and gives the name of the
speaker for that morning, the purpose of the offering, announcements of
coming events, but not the worship hymn numbers. (These will be posted
on a front wall. No announcements will be given during the worship
service.) (2) Everyone arises as those who are ministering enter. (3)
Following the lead of the speaker, all kneel together for silent prayer.
All are silently praying for God's blessing on that meeting, and on
those in attendance. (4) Then, while all are still on their knees, the
speaker prays aloud, giving the invocation. (5) All arise together and
sing the doxology.
Scripture reading, if it is desired (we would recommend it). (7) The
worship hymn. (8) Without any announcement at this time, assistants
quietly begin taking the offering, starting from the front. (9) When
the offering has been taken, the pastor arises and calls the people to
the worship prayer. He may mention the needs of certain ones who are
sick or injured. Then all kneel, and the pastor prays earnestly
(earnestly!). During that prayer he mentions in passing the offering
which was just taken. (10) Special music. (11) The sermon. (12) The call
is given. (A call for souls to come forward and accept Christ for the
first time. This is followed by extending the call, to make it a
consecration call for the others. When possible, they can be asked to
press to the front, but this may not always be feasible.) [Alternative:
On some Sabbaths, have a consecration call; on others have the audience
Next comes an earnest consecration prayer (kneeling or standing). (14) A
closing hymn, if desired (or a couple stanzas of a song can be sung
softly during the call to come to the front). (15) If desired, the
speaker could bless the congregation with God's favor and help through
the coming week. (16) The meeting is adjourned (while those who have
made an initial, or special, decision meet with the pastor in back).
it is again, as a word outline:
/ Silent Prayer - all arise, then kneel
- still kneeling
PRAYER - all kneel
PRAYER - stand or kneel
are definite advantages to an order of worship, as suggested above.
First, it is more Biblical. Second, because it is more simplified, it
is likely to be more quiet and reverent. Third, it is definitely more
purposive and worshipful in all its parts.
rather quickly becomes a ritual to do something just to do it. In this
revised arrangement, the opening silent and invocational prayers have
become meaningful. The announcements are banished from the interior of
the service. Most or all the prayers are kneeling, without a
up-down-up-down routine. The entire service lends itself to a worshipful
atmosphere. It all becomes a meaningful experience. But, beware, the
heart must be in it, and the prayers must be sincere-or even the best
service becomes a dead gathering.
you believe you may have a difficult time getting the brethren to modify
your local church service, try for just these two changes:
- All kneel for the silent prayer, and switch the two items which
immediately follow it, so everyone can remain kneeling for the
invocation: (kneeling: silent prayer and invocation; standing:
- Either kneel for the offering prayer or place the pastor's prayer
immediately after the offering, which had no prayer preceding it.
is a final suggestion. One of the most worshipful services the present
writer ever saw, was conducted by a pastor who let a few moments of time
elapse between events. Someone was not always jumping up to start the
next item on the worship agenda.
the Lord bless your efforts, as you seek to worship Him in accordance
with His commands.