Off Topic: Prayer Positions

This past weekend I saw something I have not seen in a while. 

It was Prayer Hands.

As you well know, Prayer Hands are the officially adopted prayer position of the western church. For time and memorial they have been emblazoned upon countless pieces of Jesus paraphernalia. As a child, this is the first of many prayer positions we learn. Our parents teach us to put our two hands together in this fashion as we kneel over our bed and thank God for our puppy and mud puddles.

Oddly enough, people in this part of the world do not pray that way. As a matter of fact, they have their own officially adopted prayer position that looks more like that slap game you played as a kid. In this culture, both hands are placed out, palms up, as you pray. Needless to say, I have gotten accustomed to praying in this fashion instead of the way I prayed in the States.

But this past weekend was different. A team from one of our partnering churches was in country, and during their stay, they held a retreat for all missionaries who work with our people group. It was a great time, and I got to see prayer hands.

Upon noting this nostalgic turn of events, I began observing the positions in which people were praying and noticed some patterns. Do not worry; I was not breaking the vowed eyes closed accord. All observations were indeed made in that moment of mystery before and after the prayer.

I noted the following positions:

The Daisy Chain –

Frequently employed in small group settings the Daisy Chain is a group effort. No one person can pull off this maneuver single-handed. To employ the chain, a group must form a circle facing inward. Each member is required to clasp hands with two co-prayers on either side. If this action is executed properly, the result is one continuous chain of supplication. 

The Suspension Bridge –

This prayer position requires extra equipment. In order to deploy this tactic, one must be in the seated position. Furthermore, their seat must be located directly behind another one. In the case of a traditional church setting, pews make the ideal props for the Suspension Bridge. However, in a pinch (such as the youth group room, VBS, or any other number of events that do not take place in the sanctuary) fold out chairs will suffice. 

The proper implementation sees the practitioner stretching their arms out in front of them, crossed at the wrists, and suspending them on the pew/chair in front of them. This suspended position then allows them to dangle their head in mid air between their outstretched arms.

The Bomb Raid –

(Could also be referred to as the Tornado Drill in certain parts of the country) A naturally defensive posture, this is the most secure of all prayer positions. In case of undue distractions from those around you (or falling debris) this position should be employed. 

Partnered best with a table and not a pew back, proper execution sees the practitioner’s head being laid directly on the table and turned to one side. With eyes closed tightly, the next step is to throw both arms over the head in a crossed fashion.

This position is frequently attempted during meetings, Sunday school, or (in my case) retreats where the participants are all sitting around a table. For additional comfort, the practitioner is encouraged to use a jacket or some form of clothing item as padding.

Over and over again, I saw these positions manifest, but I know there are more. Which prayer positions am I missing? Have you got one to add to the list?

Leave yours below!

2 Comments

  1. NickieB said:

    I guess if I gave this prayer position a clever name as you have yours it would be the Handcuff Prayer Position. This position is usually done at the end of the service during invitation or dismissal prayer. The congregation is standing with their hands behind their backs (well some have them down next to their side but I for some reason always have mine behind my back)clasp together as if in handcuffs. Your head as if looking at your feet. Not that you are looking at your feet because a you have already mention we cannot break the eyes closed law or your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ will surely think less of you or even tell on you.

    May 15, 2011
    Reply
  2. Keelan said:

    The Handcuff position is definitely a keeper Nickie… and you are exactly right, I do that during the benediction.

    May 19, 2011
    Reply

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