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Op-Ed: How We Pray, A Habit Explored

By Kim Ruiz (givemetruth)     Aug 14, 2007 in World
As I led my children in prayer yesterday, I closed my eyes, bowed my head, and folded my hands together in my traditional habit of praying. But after we were done, my youngest son asked me why I prayed the way I did.
At the tender age of 7 years old, this child of mine keeps me on my toes in all the right ways. So when he looked at me and said, "Mom, why do you pray with your head down and your eyes closed? The devil is down there, but God is up in Heaven. I pray with my head looking up at Him, and my eyes open!"
How can you argue with that? Was there anything "wrong" with his prayer posture or thinking? Absolutely not! And it led me on a short search for answers...answers that may make you think more about why you pray the way you do, and maybe changing your habit, at least on occasion.
My initial response to my prayer posture was this: We bow our heads in reverence to God's authority over us, similar to the way subjects bow before a King. We close our eyes to help us focus on what it is we want to say, and not be distracted by things around us. And we fold our hands...to keep from fidgeting? That didn't sound quite right, but it was all I had at the moment.
The act of putting our hands together during prayer led to an explanation offered here. The video link explains how the positive and negative energy forces in our left and right hands are "neutralized" when we bring them together in the center of our body. Additionally, there's a nerve that runs along our breastbone in the center of the chest, and pressing our "neutralized" hands on this point stimulates the vagus nerve, which sends signals to our brain. This response helps alter our brain waves, and puts us into a different frame of mind, ready to pray.
Some people lace their fingers together in prayer, perhaps helping to "lock" them into place, so they're not tempted to fidget. Others may join hands with fellow worshippers, connecting their prayers through their joined hands.
But there are those who will lift their hands upward, along with their faces, during their prayer or worship time. This is a powerful feeling when you pray with hands and arms uplifted, releasing yourself and your requests to God. If you've never tried praying this way (I always thought it was too "demonstrative"), try it in private one time. I was surprised by the difference I felt in praying and worshipping with open hands, palms turned upwards, as if you're physically lifting your thoughts and words to God.
What does the Bible tell us about prayer posture?
1 Kings 8:22: And Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven...
1 Timothy 2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
Matthew 26: 39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
The next time you pray, think about your habit, what meaning or connection it has for you during your prayer time. Maybe you might consider trying a prayer posture from the Bible? In my case, I can only believe that maybe God spoke through my child to show me how to grow in my prayer life by breaking out of customary habits, and encouraging me to grow into new ones.
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