Last week, my church home fellowship group did something interesting. Around the room were different stations, a variety of challenges, questions and things to ponder – paper to draw out a picture of worship, playdough to make and break idols, string to hang blessings, a cross to pin on burdens, the word of God, a jar of prayer, a bin of torn up sin, and finally, a platform to posture ourselves before God. I enjoyed the hour and a bit we were able to spend gazing upon the face of God there in that place, but the journey was not done there. I have been thinking more about my posture before God, so often an unconscious response. However, being more aware of my posture and my response – in both a physical and spiritual sense – unlocks a flood of revelation about the intimate heart of God, our eternal lover.
Posture: Cause and Effect
Posture, in the physical sense, says a lot about a person. It is an unspoken whisper of identity, insecurities, desire. There are postures that exude confidence, demand obedience, cower with fright, lock down with determination, and float with free spirit. There are postures for walking, talking, sitting at a desk, and relaxing. Most of the time, these postures are unconscious, a natural, in-built or learned habit, at times an automatic response to a certain situation or task. Yet, there are times when we are more aware of our posture – prompts to stand up, talk, or walk with confidence into an interview for example. Posture has effects on our body, and these are not always seen immediately. The slouched workman or awkwardly tall person may suffer back pain and muscle cramps in future.
What then, can we say about spiritual posture? In the same way we have an array of unconscious physical postures with future consequences, I believe our spiritual posture is influenced by and has influence on our spiritual journey. A few points about spiritual posture:
- Spiritual posture is a response to our perception of identity in Christ. Are we confident in His love, angry at His discipline, or trampled by fear of His judgement.
- Spiritual posture conveys our desire and goal. Do we face toward God, or away from Him?
- Spiritual posture conveys our openness towards God. Are we completely surrendered to Him, or are some areas of our lives closed to His grace and revelation?
- Spiritual posture affects the way we relate to God. It impacts of the way we speak to Him, obey Him and minister in testimony and works.
- Spiritual posture, therefore, has impact on the fruit of our relationship with God. This is because it directly affects our relationship with God!
While spiritual posture is often an unconscious response to a long-term way of seeing and knowing God, it can be altered. We can say to ourselves – “Stand up straight. I am a child of God!” At the same time, we can consciously lower ourselves in worship of our Great and Mighty God. There are three specific physical postures I want to share about today. These are the three which I consciously spent some time in and for each one, the Lord showed me a different part of His character, and a different aspect of my being in Him.
- Being Prostrated on the Ground
- Kneeling with Arms Outstretched
- Lying with Back on Ground, Knees Up, and Hands Behind Head
on the Ground
A few Biblical allusions to this posture are found in the passages below:
· [Joshua 5:14] – When Joshua meets the Commander of the army of the Lord, he worships, lying prostrate, and says to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” Joshua is then told to take off his sandal as the place he was standing was holy.
· [Matthew 26:39] – Jesus lies prostrate when He prays, in anguish, for the cup to be taken from Him. Yet, “…not My will, but Yours be done..” he says.
· [John 8:1-12] – This is the story about the adulterous woman, brought before Jesus for judgement. Instead, he challenges her accusers saying, “…he who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” No one does, and Jesus tells the woman he goes not condemn her, go a sin no more. There is a song by Misty Edwards, “Harlot”, which tells the story of this woman in song. I remember one phrase – “facedown” – speaking about the accused woman lying in the dirt, aware of her sins and her due punishment. Yet, Jesus lifts her up to life in His light; He forgives her sins.
· [Revelation 4:10] – The 24 elders who are around the throne are described to be constantly falling down before God and worshipping Him. The Greek word used to describe their falling before the throne is πίπτω (pipó), in this context, meaning to fall prostrate.
This was the first position I spent time in during our home fellowship evening. It is a posture I have found myself in very rarely. In fact, I remembered only two to three times I have come to worship God in this position, and only one of these times do I still remember vividly. The times when I had lain prostrate before God were personal times, in my bedroom, after a long period of worship or intercession when I just lay before Him and cried, “Lord, only you can!” Only He could satisfy me, only He could give life to those in darkness, only He could change a seemingly disastrous situation. However, to start by consciously assuming this position before God was different, and it made me more aware of where I am, compared to where God is.
A few things I felt about the posture of being prostrate before God:
- It is a response to God’s holiness and righteousness
- It is submission to His will
- It says, “I recognise my weakness, but I know Your grace”
- It reminds us of God’s promise – “I will lift you up!”
· Jesus was the firstborn from the dead. He rose from the grave and ascended to the right hand of the Father. He made the way, and He is always interceding for us.
· Joshua rose up as a leader and judge over Israel, and it began with a healthy fear of the Lord and submission to His ways.
· The adulterous woman received grace and was forgiven her sins, lifted from shame into purpose.
· The 24 elders are constantly lifted into astounding revelation of the beauty of God in a cycle of worship and adoration.
· We rest assured in the promise of a faithful God who lifts us up from the miry clay, lifts us up from darkness and lifts us up from sorrow into the promise of His life and everlasting love.
Kneeling with Arms Outstretched
Once again, here are some examples of this posture in the Bible:
· [2 Chronicles 6:13] – Solomon, as leader and king over Israel, knelt on a bronze platform before the people and raised his hands to God. Before the congregation, he dedicated the temple to God, and proclaimed the God who hears.
· [Acts 9:10] – Peter kneels when he prays for Tabitha (also known as Dorcas) to be resurrected from death. In this instance, he first puts out all the people from the room.
· [Philippians 2:9-11] – “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on the earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
This was, for me, a familiar posture and I felt I could stay in this posture for eternity (except my arms became a little tired and I brought them down to rest a little lower from time to time). When I knelt with arms outstretched, I experienced the following:
- An openness before God – He had complete access to all of my being, and I was wholly and fully surrendered to Him.
- That I also, had open access to God – to His revelation, His Spirit, His thoughts and His power. Wow, that is an incredible and overwhelming feeling!
- I just kept praying, “Fill me Lord!” It reminded me of how David prays for his cup to be filled to overflowing in Psalm 23. I felt a great desire to be filled to overflowing with the fullness of my living God – with all His love, all His mercy, and all knowledge of Him.
- I felt the vastness of God, yet the tangible closeness of Him – a God so high in power and holiness, yet lowly and humble, who desires an intimate relationship with me.
- I said to the Lord, “Lift me up in Your arms and carry me.” I know a God who desires for us to be with Him where He is [John 17:24]
Lying with Back on Ground, Knees Up, and Hands Behind Head
This posture was very relaxing, and as I spent time with the Lord here, He showed me pictures of His promises. I found my heart declaring – “Jesus, Your promises never fail, and Your love endures forever.” Some the promises God spoke were:
- “I am the God of rest – come to me all you who are heavy burdened and I will give you rest. Come rest in My peace, come rest in My love.”
- “I am the God of Israel – I teach Ephraim to walk, I witnessed his birth, I cradled my children through their past, and I am with them still.”
- “I will be with you forever.” I felt like I would spend eternity with God, gazing upon His face – that we would see things together, and that He would show me all His beauty, and all His works.
- I saw a smiling God, who enjoys us. His smile made me smile.
This time, spent before the Lord in various physical postures, made me more aware of my relationship with, and perception of God. I saw my God as majestic, seated upon the throne of glory in matchless holiness and beauty. At the same time, I experienced the deep desire God has to be with us – He is an approachable God, full of mercy, full of love, and He enjoys us. I was reminded of the promises God speaks over us, and I was immersed in the sense of His wonder and eternity.