This blog post was initiated by someone who excites me because she is pressing into her newfound relationship with Jesus with enthusiasm and curiosity. Like many of us, Paige has been in the church for most of her life, but that didn't necessarily result in "knowing" her Savior. After receiving Inner Healing, she is on fire to experience Jesus to the fullest. Mark and I get some of our most interesting questions from her, and it makes us take stock of our own intimate knowledge of Him and His Word. So, I'd like to share her most recent question, which led to more research and the topic of this post.
Paige asked the very good question, "When they say 'bow your heart' in a church service, is that just Christian-ese speak or does it [really] mean something?" First of all, I want to commend her for having the courage to question something she might hear in a sermon, and to have the desire to fully understand it, rather than accept it, just because it was spoken in church. I've always admired anyone who speaks about our Lord [whether they be a pastor, teacher, or fellow Christian] who is not afraid to say, "Don't accept it just because I said it. Do your own research!" And that is exactly what I ask everyone who reads this blog to do, also.
So, here was my answer to her: "I [personally] don't know of any specific Scripture that tells us to "bow our hearts", but I don't see anything wrong with the description because the attitude of our heart speaks to how we love and honor Christ, and the posture of bowing is a sign of reverence and an expression of worship. So I don't see anything wrong with bowing your heart. Now, religious people would demand a chapter and verse reference instead of seeing the spiritual significance of the phrase. I think it's a good picture of how I want my heart to respond to my Lord".
I just love questions like this because it leads me on a path to more knowledge. The Institute in Basic Life Principles website has an article entitled, What is the significance of using different postures in prayer? I would like to share with you what I discovered.
It's important that we understand that the Bible does not require a specific posture when we pray to the Lord, but how we pray and the postures we adopt do speak of our attitude as we are praying. So the website suggested eight postures of prayer, and I'd like us to consider each one and how they speak of our attitudes towards God.
Lying prostrate before God. This is the ultimate posture for expressing humility toward our Father in Heaven. When you get on your face before God, you are indicating your unworthiness to be in His Presence. When God made a covenant with Abraham, Abraham recognized his unworthiness before God and “fell on his face” before the Lord. (See Genesis 17:1–22.) You are admitting your need for His mercy. When the leper came to Jesus for healing, he fell on his face and begged for mercy, saying, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean” (Luke 5:12.) And when you know that the Lord is the only way out of a situation in your life, you are ready to admit you need His deliverance and are willing to ask His help. (See Joshua 7:1-9).
Bowing before the Lord. Bowing before the Lord shows an attitude of honor, gratitude, and faith; acknowledging that everything comes from His Hand. It is a sign of reverence and an expression of worship. Just as subjects of an earthly king bow out of respect and gratitude for his rulership, so do we followers of Jesus who bow before our Sovereign King. When God answered the prayer of Abraham’s servant, the man “worshiped the Lord, bowing himself to the earth” (Genesis 24:52).
Standing before the Lord. I particularly like this posture because to stand before a ruler indicates that you have a legal right to be
there. It is only through the righteousness of Jesus Christ that we are
able to approach God as His children: “. . . We have an advocate
with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation
for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole
world” (I John 2:1–2). This posture means that we know who we are in Christ and that we know we stand righteous before God because Jesus has justified us. Then there is Ephesians 6:13-18 where we are told to stand, arrayed in our spiritual armor, and ready to do battle ... and having done all, to stand.... This posture also shows a readiness to serve as we stand before our King in the model of Daniel and his fellow servants of the Lord (Daniel 1:5).
Sitting before the Lord. In Scripture, when the king or rulers of a city sat in their official places, they
were in a position to rule and judge and to have their judgments carried
out. We know that Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father, and we know we are seated with Jesus in the heavenly realms. So this posture speaks of not only Their authority, but ours, in their Name. I am immediately reminded that we are to be the Ecclesia of the Lord; His ruling authority here on the earth. We should be mindful that our role is to occupy seats of rulership on the earth and see that the judgments of Heaven are carried out.
Looking up to Heaven. When we look to Heaven in prayer we are seeking the face of God. In the world of social etiquette, looking a person in the face indicates confidence and honesty. It is indicative of an open, trusting relationship. When we adopt this posture in prayer it indicates that we know where our help comes from; that we have confident faith in the One to whom we are praying; and that we have an intimate relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Stretching forth the arm. This posture reflects God's sovereign power. The Old Testament is full of examples of men stretching for their arm and releasing the power of God into a situation. I don't know about you, but I think of Moses as he discharged the plagues of God against the Egyptians, and when he stood on a hill overlooking the battle between the Israelites and the Amalekites, holding the rod of God: “It came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed” (Exodus 17:11). But I also see the sovereignty of God's power in the New Testament when Jesus stretched forth his hand and healed the leper. It was a sign of God's power; His will to heal and deliver; and His blessing upon a life.
Leaping for joy. I think of King David when I consider this posture of prayer. Here was a man that knew the highs of being a man after God's own heart, and the lows of disappointing the One he loved the most. And the Bible warns that even in the midst of persecution we are to "rejoice and be exceeding glad". In addition, we are told, Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you,
and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in
that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven
For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23).
Each of these postures is important to our prayer life and I like knowing their significance and what they symbolize. And it is my desire to incorporate them all into my times of worship and communication with the Lord, as the Holy Spirit leads me. And I'm sure that there are other ways to pray before the Lord that I haven't covered here. It will be fun to search the Scriptures and discover more expressions of reverence and supplication. And it's my hope that we would all be like my friend, Paige ... open to seek more of God than we've been comfortable with in the past. He loves to reveal more of Himself and His ways!
Philippians 4:6-7 Don’t be pulled in
different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer
throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with
overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ.