Proper position for worship and prayer

Hi. What is the proper position for worship/prayer? A Muslim is asking me where are the scriptural bases for sitting, standing, kneeling, dancing or singing while praying. Are there passages where Christ Himself commanded it? He is kind of insisting that we should prostrate (just like what they do) because Christ prostrated Himself but Christians are not imitating that prayer position.

I know this has already been asked numerous times in the forums, but when I tried a search, I only found threads related to the question, but really not addressing it. If you could provide links for further reading, please do so.


The outward postures and gestures should reflect the inward disposition of our heart. Too many focus on the externals and not the internals.

Point your Muslim friend to the many Scriptures which speak of humility, fear of God, repentance, love of neighbor, joy in having a filial relationship with God, the peace which comes from knowing God, etc. We are called to imitate Christ first and foremost in our inward attitudes and outward actions toward other people. Our postures and gestures are merely reflections.

If he still wants to see Catholics prostrate themselves then take him to an adoration chapel.


The beautiful paintings of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane always show Him on His knees. ---- At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow…Philippians 2:10


There are no passages in which Christ commanded a posture in prayer.
The Gospels differ on whether he prostrated himself or knelt in Gethsemane: prostrated - Matthew 26:39, knelt - Luke 22:41, unclear - Mark 14:35.

Prostrating oneself is more commonly used in the Old Testament than kneeling as a posture of prayer but kneeling is still a valid posture in the Old Testament and both are mentioned in the New Testament, outside the Gospels, as well, though prostration only appears in Revelation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church warns us not to “reduce prayer to ritual words and postures” (see 2726). In the whole of the CCC, this is only one of two mentions of posture in prayer (the other reads as follows: “No one, whether shepherd or wise man, can approach God here below except by kneeling before the manger at Bethlehem and adoring him hidden in the weakness of a new–born child.” [563])

That depends upon the body, and the situation.

Kneeling is painful for me so I avoid it. Usually, I stand with my head down.

But outside of church, I do a lot of praying lying down :):slight_smile:


Jesus meets us where we are. The church tells me to pray ceaselessly. The position for prayer is the one I find myself in.

I can say that I have prayed like Jesus in the garden. It was a bad time for me, but I have been there, on all fours, asking God to allow the cup to pass.

Just because someone doesn’t do it in Church doesn’t mean that we don’t imitate our master in one way or another.



The Nine Ways of Prayer of St. Dominic

As a general rule, Christ did not command any specific prayer postures. Generally the postures developed according to the traditions of the people. In the Western world people knelt in the presence of royalty, and so it was the posture used in the Mass. In the east prostrations were more commonly used, while kneeling was considered to be specifically penitential. I believe the eastern rites use prostration more commonly and restrict kneeling to the penitential seasons.

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