Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

February 4, 2018


 Kneeling in prayer


       Lovers of history will enjoy watching “The Crown,” a Netflix drama series about the life of Queen Elizabeth II. In one episode there is an intriguing scene in which Elizabeth’s husband Philip rebels at the requirement that he kneel before Elizabeth during her coronation.

Philip argues that he is her husband, not a servant. “Yes,” she replies, “but I am also your Queen.” In the end Elizabeth wins and Philip honors tradition by kneeling at her feet in the ceremony.

        That argument reminded me of the biblical stories of people kneeling at the feet of Jesus. The New Testament describes several scenes where ordinary people, and sometimes influential leaders, “fell” at the feet of Jesus, crying out desperately for his help.

        Some of our church songs remind us that we may receive mercy by kneeling before God. Fanny Crosby paints a picture of a humble sinner kneeling before the Lord in her gospel song, “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior.” That song includes this poignant phrase, “Let me at thy throne of mercy, find a sweet relief; kneeling there in deep contrition, help my unbelief.”

        Many churches have a kneeling rail in the sanctuary which people are encouraged to use when praying. Kneeling has been my favorite position for praying although as my knees are now old and weak, I sometimes need help to stand up.

        Over the years I have gone to my knees in prayer many times. Usually it was at a time when I was broken and feeling helpless. When conflict and anger nearly destroyed my marriage, Dean and I went to our knees in tears beside a kitchen table. Kneeling together, “in deep contrition,” we found mercy and God helped us to restore our relationship.

        When one of my children, or my wife, was desperately ill, I went to my knees in earnest prayer, asking God for mercy and healing. On several occasions I invited the congregation to kneel at the altar and pray for someone whose life was hanging in the balance.

        Does God pay more attention to our prayers if we are on our knees? I don’t know. Probably not. But the act of kneeling allows me to acknowledge my helplessness and my willingness to put a hopeless situation in God’s hands. Kneeling is a physical way of admitting that God is God and I am accountable to Him, and that without His mercy, there is no way forward.  

        I am not ashamed to say that sometimes, on my knees, I have begged God for mercy, the mercy to see how to pick up the broken pieces of my life and try again to get it right. And I can witness to the fact that again and again God has been merciful and helped me to crawl out the mess I had made and make a new start.

        In these days I feel often like getting on my knees, not to ask for mercy but just to thank God for the mercy I have received. He has lovingly answered my cry for help so many times.       

Do I insist that everyone should practice kneeling to pray? No, I am sure that the posture of the body in prayer is not as important as the attitude of the heart. It is, however, interesting to remember that the Bible says that one day everyone, and that means everybody, will kneel before Jesus and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. + + +