"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Man On His Knees

Honestly, one of the earliest visual memories I have of my daddy is of him on his knees by his bed ... praying.  It's not that he spent hours and hours there, but every night right before he retired to sleep, he would kneel on the floor, prop his forearms on the bedside, clasp his hands and bow his head.  I really don't know anything about the dialogue that went on between him and God, but I imagine it incorporated the Lord's Prayer coupled with prayers for my mother, my siblings and me ... among other things.

A man on his knees.  

Then there was the pastor that came to our little church back in the early 90's.  Honestly, I can't recall a word he ever preached.  But what I do remember is that every time he led us in the pastoral prayer, he hit the floor right there next to the pulpit.

A man on his knees. 

Another preacher/pastor I was privileged to sit under would walk down the aisle at the beginning of the service, and before entering the chancel area, would stop at the altar rail, go to his knees and pray.  For all we knew, he could have been saying his ABC's, but his life told us he was asking God to fill that place with His presence.  (I'm so reminded here of the high priests who went into the Holy place in the Temple, carrying the people of Israel on his heart before God.)  

A man on his knees.  

More recently, I sat in church with one of my sons, and while others received communion, watched him bow with his wife on the steps leading up to the platform.  This mother's heart swelled, I must admit.   

A man on his knees.  

And just weeks ago, while making a last minute copy in the workroom before the worship service, I caught a glimpse of the pastor, a very large man in body, alone in his office -- down on his knees before God.  Powerful imagery once again.

A man on his knees.

The physical act of prayer.  Is it important? 

No doubt we hear a lot about body language.  Interrogators watch the body language of those they are questioning.  Employers watch the body language of those they are interviewing.  And don't think for a second a young man (and old) doesn't read the body language of a flirting female.  Or vice versa.  So often, we say more with our bodies that we do with our mouths.  But what about in prayer?

I'm afraid I might do a lot more talking than reverent submission, evidenced by my own body stance not to mention verbosity. 

Have you ever considered that the disciples rarely heard Jesus pray?  At least there's very little recorded in Scripture.  Yes, we see Him "raising His eyes toward heaven" and giving thanks.  And we have the High Priestly prayer recorded for us in John 17.  But were His friends privy to that prayer or did John write it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit along with the prayer in the garden before His arrest?

Regardless, sometime before both of those events, we have it recorded in Luke 11 that the disciples said, "Lord, teach us to pray."  Could it be that they asked, not because of what they had heard Him say, but because of what they had seen Him do?  And it took their breath away?  They desired THAT kind of intimacy with their God.  

A Man on His knees. 

There are no rules when it comes to such language.  We are given no blueprint that says, "This is the way you pray.  Bow ye in it."  But, personally, I am thankful for and encouraged by these men of whom I have seen kneel in prayer.  Could there be a lesson in it for me?

He was bowing in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said, "Lord, teach us to pray." (Luke 11:1)

Just an ordinary moment...

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