Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Prayer Applause

Prayer Applause
By Brenda Black

Stand up! Throw back your head and open your eyes. Raise your hands in surrender and praise. You are talking to an awesome God!

Most often, this is not the first choice for prayer posture. Head bowed, hands folded and eyes closed is usually the image we muster when “Let us pray” is uttered. The traditional posture for requesting favors from a king is ideally suited for prayers of repentance or supplication. Kneeling signifies humility and submission as demonstrated in Matthew 18:26.

“The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt, and let him go.”

Even our Lord himself adopted such a posture when he pleaded with his Father for release from the horror of crucifixion. “[Jesus] withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 'Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.' An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke: 22:41-44)

There is a time and a place for kneeling and bowing, and even lying on one’s belly, hands up, with the head up and eyes open or head down and eyes averted. Different prayer postures convey a variety of interaction with a holy God.

So why did Solomon stand before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands? He adopted the oldest tradition for prayer, called orans, from the Latin word for praying. In this posture, he acknowledged God as external and transcendent. His was an act of thanksgiving, praise, blessing and benediction for an inimitable and unrivaled God.

“O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth – you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it – as it is today.” (2 Chronicles 6:14-15)

Where is our fervor for this true God who still keeps his promises? While we position ourselves in prayer quietly, yes – even discretely, so as not to be noticed, are we in a posture of humility or ho-hum indifference. There is a time to be still and somber, repentant and submissive. And there is a time to be bold and proclaim the greatness of our God and King.

“I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers...For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

“So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord...

“Here is a trustworthy saying: 'If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (2 Timothy 1:3,6-8a, 2:11-13)

Stand up! Throw back your head and open your eyes. Raise your hands in surrender and praise. You are talking to an awesome God!

Our kids need to see us pray like that sometimes. Our churches need to pray like that sometimes. Our nation needs to pray like that sometimes. Yes, we need to humble ourselves and pray and seek God's face and turn from our wicked ways (2 Chron. 7:14) in order to obtain an audience with the King and receive forgiveness of sin and healing for our land. But we also need to lift up sincere and joyful praise that causes the angels in heaven and the saints on earth to applaud the Almighty. Our God is worthy!

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