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The etymological root of the word bless in the Old Testament is, to kneel! The implications of the idea are explosive. In northern Europe, inside one of the great cathedrals, there is a triptych of paintings depicting prayer. The first portrays a marketplace scene full of hurried activity, merchants selling and shoppers bartering. The second offers a window on a small sacred assembly, a handful of folks who have stepped from the busy streets into the temple for a moment of prayer. There, priests occupy themselves with candles and oil, lamps and basins. Even there, one finds bustling and busyness. In the final scene, behind closed doors, is a solitary seeker. He is alone, kneeling in the Presence of God, humbly, in prayer. Here at last is the hidden, secret life of prayer. It is the key to power. It is this calibration with heaven of our inner gyroscope that keeps us upright and sane in the crazy, covetous world in which we live.

To kneel is to position oneself for blessing from God. It is a declaration of dependence. It is an act of humility. It is the tranquility of stillness. How can we move about on our knees? It is the lowering of self. It is coming beneath the shadow of God. It anticipates God above, hovering, touching, giving life, brooding, anointing, imparting – blessing! It the opposite of arrogance, of self-sufficiency, of proudly standing by one’s own strength. It is the end of pride. In the Hebrew mind, the knees were an indication of strength and, therefore, to bend a knee was to subordinate strength to God. Prayer, kneeling, is learning to lean into His strength. To kneel is to seek the blessing of God. It anticipates a positive response. It expects the gift of grace. It awaits a sense of His loving Presence. It looks forward to what God might say or do!

In your prayer time this week, draw even closer to God by falling to your knees as an expression of humility to Him.

  • This blog is part of The Praying Church Handbook – Volume III – Pastor and the Congregation which can be purchased at>

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Comment by Stephanie Tucker on February 23, 2016 at 4:53pm

Thank you, Doug. Your word has opened up a whole new way to think about kneeling and praying. I always thought about kneeling and praying as an act of reverence. Thank you.

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