A mother was worried about her child. She asked St Porphyrios (recently canonized) for his prayers and counsel. His response surprised her: “show me your knees”. He pointed out that there were no callouses and that more prayer for her child on bended knee was required!
Prayer, which is our lifeline to God, can be done either standing, kneeling or sitting, be it at home or in church. The stance we take during prayer can be telling of our spiritual state.
In the Old Testament, there are many references to bowing, kneeling and prostrations. King David wrote: “O come let us worship and fall down before Him” (Ps 94:6). The Prophet Daniel “knelt upon his knees and prayed and gave thanks before His God”(Dan 6:10), as did Moses and Aaron beseeching God, “having fallen on their faces”(Num 16:22).
Christ himself sanctified this custom by His own example praying on bended knees, such as before His Passion in the garden of Gethsemane (Mat 26:39). We have many examples of Saints of the Church, such as St Seraphim of Sarov, who spent 1,000 days on bended knees in deep prayer.
There is an innate longing for man to have union and communion with his Creator, and this is achieved through prayer. It is a natural state for the creature to bend its form in worship of the awesome mystery of the Divine. Kneeling is an expression of repentance and godly sorrow for our fallen nature. In kneeling, we fall down to the earth to show our sinful state, crying out for God’s mercy. St Ambrose of Milan tells us that “beyond the rest of the ascetic labours, kneeling has the power to lessen the wrath of God and to evoke His mercy”.
It is appropriate for us all to fall on bended knees and worship the Triune God!
Source: June-July 2015 Lychnos Edition