Have you ever heard, “Close your eyes and bow your head” at church before? This usually happens before prayer, but why do we bow our heads and close our eyes?
Why is there Christian prayer etiquette? Christian prayer etiquette is in place to help us to show respect to God while praying. Our posture helps us communicate and show our reverence towards God. There are many different ways to pray, but ultimately prayer is a conversation with God and can happen anytime.
Many people speak in a certain way or stand in a certain way while praying. Praying standing or kneeling helps us show reverence to God. Using phrases like, “Dear God” help to show respect to God. Etiquette is important to showing respect and reverence. We also must keep in mind that we are given access to God anytime because death on the cross and have access to God anytime.
Prayer Etiquette: “Closing our Eyes and Fold your Hands”
Surprisingly, closing your eyes and folding your hands during prayer is never mentioned in the Bible. It is a common position Christians use while praying.
Closing your eyes and bowing your head is an excellent way to stay focused on the singular task of praying.
When I was in Sunday school, the teacher would ask us to fold our hands before praying. This kept our hands from grabbing a toy or finishing up an art project. We were also asked to close our eyes. This helped up to stay focused during the prayer.
Most people consider closing your eyes to be respectful during prayer. Sometimes pastors encourage it to make the time of prayer private.
We as Christians can be respectful to those who feel this way and close our eyes, but ultimately it does not prove spirituality or seriousness in prayer.
Even those older and more mature in the faith still close their eyes and fold their hands. This could be because it has become a habit, or it still helps them from getting distracted today.
The amazing thing is that we have access to God even without closing our eyes and folding our hands. If having our eyes open keeps us more concentrated we can do that. If we open our hands in worship in prayer or decide to use our hands to write down or illustrate our prayer, we can.
Different Positions During Prayer
“Let’s kneel,” “Please stand up,” are some common things said when we in church small group or any Christian establishment while we are praying. Is there a reason one position is used instead of another during prayer?
Unlike other practices, we have today, such as the folding of hands, praying both kneeling and standing and other positions are discussed as positions of prayer in the Bible.
Commonly at the end of church services, you are asked to stand as the Pastor’s closing prayer. Standing can represent being ready, giving praise, or instructions.
When pastors give benedictions we commonly open our hands to show we receive the blessings. Hands lifted also is significant as it shows a place of worship and surrender. Paul even writes in 1 Timothy about his desire that we should pray with hands stretched out.
I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling1 Timothy 2:8
Kneeling is a popular position because it shows humility. It shows our willingness to surrender to God. Throughout Scripture, we see many people who kneeled while they prayed including King Soloman, Ezra, and Jesus.
We see through Scripture those in despair, awe, and repentance pray with their faces to the ground. The position of prayer usually reflects the heart.
There are no requirements or rules on when to do what, just examples from the Bible based on how others have done it. The positions we take during prayer will help us show reverence to God and know our place as sinful people before a Holy God.
Etiquette During Corporate Prayer
While we are able to pray how we want and when we want while showing proper respect towards God, when praying with others there are certain guidelines we should follow.
While praying on our own is very important and should happen every day, praying with others is important as it says in scripture.
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among themMatthew 18:20
First, it is important that when you pray you are talking to God to keep your prayers directed towards God. There is no need to show off while praying. Keep your attention on God.
God knows all the details, if you don’t feel comfortable saying something out loud you don’t need to. When you are praying in a large group it is kind to give everyone time to pray.
You should avoid gossiping during times of corporate prayer. As the body of Christ we want to glorify Christ in our prayers.
Laying hands on others can be powerful and show others that you care. It is polite to ask if the person you are praying for is comfortable with having peopel lay hands on them.
What We Say During Prayer
Many times when we pray we start with “Dear God” and end with “In Jesus name, Amen.” When we look in Scripture we can see these phrases are used in Scripture.
Dear God… In Matthew, Jesus prays to the Father this way. At the beginning of the Lord’s prayer, Jesus starts out with “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9). Jesus taught us how to pray to the Father, and make our praise and requests known to God.
In Jesus Name is common prayer phrase basic is praying in the name of Jesus. People say this before specific requests or at the end of prayers. This is another part of prayer explicitly taught to us by Jesus.
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the SonJohn 14:13
We make our requests known to God in his name because there is power in the name of Jesus. We believe in the Trinity, knowing the important roles of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Amen… the word amen means “so be it” and is found throughout the Bible. It was and still is used as a term of confirmation although today we use it much more mindlessly. It is an important term and we should remember its significance as we pray. If we are the ones praying or anyone else we should remember to say amen. Saying amen means we are in agreement with the prayer.
Why It Matters
Ultimately although certain positions and postures help us pray, prayer is talking to God and we are able to do this anytime. Prayer etiquette helps us have respect when talking to God.
Now, it is not possible to always be kneeling while praying. But the purpose of prayer etiquette is not to become rules, rather a guide. You do not always have to pray with your head bowed. The purpose of prayer etiquette is to help you respect God while praying.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.Hebrews 4:16
We want to always show respect to God by treating times of prayer with respect through our body language and speech. Praise God that we are free to come to the throne of God at anytime.