Assuming the Position

I watched as this thick-haired girl knelt beside him, both father and daughter bowed faced down before the Lord. I thought how my own children have never witnessed that kind of worship from me, nor do I remember seeing my own parents assume that position before the Lord.

I grew up in a liturgical church. We knelt. We stood. We sat. And then we’d kneel some more. I didn’t know the reason behind any of the positions we took, but I followed obediently going through the motions.

When I visited other churches, I viewed with skepticism those who dared to clap or raise a hand. Surely, their reactions weren’t genuine. They were doing it for show or to not be outdone by the person next to them. Even though I had no idea why I knelt or stood, those positions felt comfortable and, therefore, right.

Over time, as I was further removed from the church of my youth, I found my former worship sterile and lacking, the latter more alive. While I never waved my arms in the air, I felt more comfortable in a room where people were rejoicing through song, where they seemed genuinely in love with their God.

Yet, I still didn’t understand.

Watching that father and daughter marks the first time my eyes were opened as I closed them to worship from my heart and not from a missalette or a passing feeling. That night at church, with my husband at my side, I didn’t do what was comfortable–I did what I needed to communicate before my God.

Shachah: to kneel, face down to the ground. A position of reverence.Β You are God, and I am in awe.” Position of worship used 80% of the time in the Old Testament.

Barak: to kneel. A position of surrender. “You are God, and I am not.”

Yadah: to praise, a standing position. “You are God, and I wait.” Psalm 43 and Psalm 79

Halal: to praise the Lord, to clamor foolishly. Β “You are God, and I praise.” Psalm 150

And what struck me about this evening as I learned the different positions of worship is how much time I have spent in church not understanding what I do or why I do it. After I left the liturgical church and really dug into Scripture, I saw the beauty and meaning behind the rituals that had seemed empty. And after Friday night, I learned that people who raise both hands in church just might not be crazy. Maybe.

And, perhaps, the church of my youth and the church of my adulthood are both right and can learn from one another. And, perhaps, I shouldn’t base my worship on what is comfortable for me but, instead, on what the Lord deserves.

I’m linking up with Michelle today. If you’ve never read her work before, click on the image above–you will not be disappointed!

And continuing with our Journeys through the fruits of the Spirit, this Friday’s link-up will be on kindness:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,Β 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, New International Version, 2010). Emphasis mine



13 thoughts on “Assuming the Position”

  1. AT one meeting I was at that had folks from lots of different church backgrounds someone explained that different people worship in different ways – he said that if we struggle to understand those who raise both their hands to think of the old cowboy movies – I surrender. To this day I am not a hand raiser but I do enjoy watching the I surrenders go up around the church.

  2. I have memories of attending a pentecostal church and having severe doubts that all the speaking in tongues and falling in the spirit were ligit. I still have those doubts because of the particular church it was. I'm more comfortable being boring πŸ™‚

    1. I had a similar experience that left me uncomfortable, so I really dug into the Word to learn about the topic and figure out what I believe. Unfortunately, I never really dug into the Word to see what it said about worship and praise. This weekend was very enlightening to learn that there was a specific purpose and meaning behind the four different postures.I'm naturally pretty introverted, so I guess some would say I'm boring, too. πŸ˜‰

  3. "And, perhaps, I shouldn’t base my worship on what is comfortable for me but, instead, on what the Lord deserves."…amen…I love how worship positions reinforce to our puny minds that He is GOD and we are not! Thank you for reminding me.

  4. I grew up in a very conservative church and am in one where people raise their hands and are truly praising God. I think what really tenderized my heart is when my adult boys started raising their hands and I could see on their faces they were truly worshiping. It brought streams of tears for me.

  5. This is really beautiful. I love this line.

    And, perhaps, I shouldn’t base my worship on what is comfortable for me but, instead, on what the Lord deserves.

    Thanks for stopping by today, and I'll be back!

  6. This makes me think of our time in Birmingham, and Michelle's post afterward about raising her hands – or not. I'm smiling, remembering the time we shared there. And, I appreciate those descriptions of worship postures. Very cool.

    1. I actually thought about Michelle's post, too, and had just e-mailed her the other day writing that I really hoped we'd get to meet up again someday. But we can pick a place where Michelle doesn't have to raise her hands. πŸ˜‰

  7. Yeah, what Deidra said — I instantly thought of the Deeper Still conference and how I totally freaked with the demonstrative worship! I am more comfortable in the stoic church — Lutheranism is perfect for me!

    I like the Hebrew descriptions of the different worship positions — really interesting. I never considered standing a worship stance — you've given that new meaning for me today.

    Thanks for linking up, Jennifer — always a gift to have you there!

  8. This was a great post! I loved the last line – And, perhaps, I shouldn’t base my worship on what is comfortable for me but, instead, on what the Lord deserves.

    We're so blessed to be able to worship a God who deserves our praise! πŸ™‚

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