success stories

Posted October 7, 2003

Is Kneeling Important to You During Worship?

By Voices
Sunday, October 5, 2003; Page C11

“The word knee in Hebrew denotes strength.
When we kneel our strength bows to God’s strength.”

I think kneeling is very important, an integral part of my personal worship experience, and I will continue to do it as long as my knees don't give out. It is a physical attitude that helps me focus on prayer and helps me realize there is someone out there bigger than I am. When I kneel, it is like a signal to my entire being that it is time to concentrate on God, not on the world.

-- The Rev. Sharon Henderson, Fairfax

Kneeling is valuable as an outward sign of an inward condition: humility, supplication, gratitude. I knelt in church for 40 years until I had two back surgeries and got overweight. Since then I slouch back half-sitting in the pew, just as the nuns told me not to do. Like Heinrich Heine on his deathbed, I believe that "God will forgive me, because it is his profession."

Not kneeling isn't a sin but rather a deprivation. I'd do it if I still could. It helps create a special atmosphere for prayer.

-- Jamie Yeager, Bethesda

The act of kneeling was instilled in me from parochial school days; however, as I got older, I noticed my grandmother would never kneel. When I asked her why, she said, "The Lord hears my prayers just as well because they're from my heart, not my knees." That always stuck with me. She was a very devout and kind and loving woman who suffered from arthritis. This may also have been the reason she couldn't kneel.

Sometimes I kneel, sometimes I don't; but I am always sincere in my prayer offerings and they come straight from my heart, not my knees.

-- Patricia Harvey, Washington

We do not kneel in my church, and I wish we did. Kneeling may not be necessary to reverent adoration, but it does promote a proper attitude.

God is holy and we are not. The Muslims recognize this fact when they prostrate themselves before Him in prayer. Unless we understand how very holy God is, and how very sinful we are, we will never fully understand the significance of the transaction which took place at Calvary.

-- Catherine Collins, Olney

Is kneeling important? Traditionally, kneeling is a more penitent posture, while standing is a more joyous, celebratory one. This is often why congregations (at least in the Episcopal church) kneel for the Eucharist during Lent and stand during Easter. It's a way for one to show outwardly what one believes inwardly.

Does it matter if one kneels? It matters only to the extent that it enhances one's personal relationship with God. If kneeling means nothing to you in worship, then stand or sit. I think God cares more about people trying to be faithful than posture.

-- The Rev. Kedron D. Jarvis, Herndon

Yes! Kneeling is very important to me. It is a sign of respect based on what is occurring in the service at the time people are asked to kneel.

While touring in St. Petersburg a few years ago, it really moved me to see so many little old ladies kneeling on the stone floors of the churches as they attended Mass. The churches were packed, with every pew filled. They understood what it means to respect the Lord and the Lord's Word.

Barbara Esposito Ilacqua, Arlington, Va.

If kneeling for those people is important, they will. There are those that, due to physical limitations, are unable to, but that does not lessen their devotion, worship or spirituality. There are denominations where kneeling may not be regarded as important. Throughout the Bible, and even now, kneeling is an act of reverence and penitence to God. But Christians who are solid in their faith, understanding, and personal relationship with God do not get hung up on the issue of whether or not to kneel, for it is what is in your heart, soul and mind that count.

Lee Brunt, Washington, D.C.

The act of kneeling is important to me. I don't kneel during every church service, but when I feel especially distant or connected to God I kneel in reverence to Him. I used to be Catholic (I now attend a nondenominational church) where kneeling was a part of the service. I must say that it became such a routine that I didn't focus on the purpose of it. I understood that it was to honor the Lord, but for me personally, it sort of lost of its impact. Kneeling is one of the many ways I worship God beyond my lifestyle and my attendance at church to show Him that I adore Him and surrender to His will for my life.

LaJuan Williams-Dickerson, Capitol Heights, Md.

I kneel before the Lord because of his awesome power and glory (Eph. 3). I find my kneeling more as a result of thanksgiving. Standing is also a great appropriate response; a response of action and readiness. When someone of respect enters into a room one stands to show respect. Whichever is chosen, a congregation picks one posture to show communion, a sign of one body in the Lord. "For all that Jesus has done, God greatly exulted him, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend". (Phil 2:6-11)

Larry Konouck, Vienna, Va.

As an American Baptist seminarian, the act of kneeling in worship is a theological and meditative part of a believer's life. The communication of the posture of worship is so profound that it has such an intimate impact in a believer's life. It says to God, "Here I am, just me, kneeling humble before you to worship you." So often as believers we do not acknowledge the gifts that God has given to us. The act of kneeling can also act as a part of meditation and prayer in appreciation of those gifts. Lastly, the simple act of kneeling should be a personal choice to be chosen by the believer to do in formal or informal worship.

Alan Rudnick, Philadelphia

I think kneeling is symbolic. The Scripture says to "pray without ceasing." Some of us have joint problems where kneeling causes great pain. The idea is to focus on talking with God. Praying is speaking with the spirit. So, in my opinion, I don't think kneeling is significant. If a person feels that kneeling helps them to focus, then that's fine for them.

There are plenty of elderly people in my church who cannot kneel for the reasons stated above. God is not going to be angry with them for that. He sees the heart of a person.

Mary Ross, Washington, D.C.