C. S. Lewis in his Screwtape Letters suggests that our bodily posture makes a big difference in our prayers, that we are animal creatures and whatever our body does, affects our souls.
According to Markus Bockmuehl:
The argument here, is that since we are bodily, ‘animal’ creatures, our desires and aspirations necessarily find expression in bodily form. When we are joyful or fearful, sad or angry, we will most naturally seek to manifest this in some appropriate outward and physical fashion…So also the posture we adopt in prayer is an outward and visible expression of our real (and not just inward!) need for God.
We may conclude from these words that when we freely express outwardly what our soul says inwardly we become motivated to pray more fervently. But if we hinder the position of prayer that God is beckoning us to take, whether it be standing, kneeling, or on our face before Him, then we are disobedient and we cut off the true Spirit of prayer that God intends for us; that is, we cut off the Holy Spirit’s call to us—His gentle tug, pulling us to prayer, even to the posture He wants us to take.
Oh Holy Spirit, Oh Spirit of Prayer, bring us to our knees! Flatten us on our faces before the Father! Cause us to see our real need for God. Bring us, pull us to the throne.
It is such a prideful thing to hinder the Holy Spirit’s work of prayer—to resist the humble positions of kneeling and bowing and holding our hands high toward heaven. Oh, how long will we resist? Do we think we are greater than God? Is our body so frail that we can’t kneel for five minutes? Is the pain that unbearable?
Let us be mindful that God is opposed to the proud and He gives grace only to the humble. If we want His grace we must humble ourselves before Him (1 Peter 5:5, 6). Let us listen to His voice. He will tell us what to do—even the position He wants us to take.
SIX PRAYER POSITIONS AND WHAT EACH ONE SYMBOLIZES
Sitting. The first prayer position that we must start with is sitting, because sitting is the position of a student, of a learner.
One who is eager to learn sits straight up with alertness and attentiveness.
If you are eager to learn how to pray, I suggest that you begin by sitting at a desk with your Bible open.
An eager prayer student may start by reading and studying the Bible every day. Then, as he reads he is careful to pray over every passage that God blesses him with that day.
David is one who sat before the Lord in prayer (1 Chron. 17:16). No doubt he was eager to learn all that God required of him; for he had a heart after God’s heart (Acts 13:22).
Sitting is also the position of meditation and rest. I like this position of prayer because it reminds me that I am positionally seated with God in the heavenly places in Christ. Yes, God raised Jesus from the dead, and He seated Him at His right hand (Eph. 1:20). And when we became a Christian God raised us up too with Christ in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). And so there we are now, sitting and resting with Christ. He has done all the work to get us there and we need only rest in His grace.
But the problem with sitting is that sometimes we are found sitting before idols (which may happen to be such things as the TV, the movies, or the computer—things that take the place of God). We so often rest and indulge ourselves with all of the lusts of the world and of the flesh more than we rest and enjoy the good things that God gives us to enjoy.
Let us return to the Living God, for it is only in Him that we can find true rest and lasting satisfaction. All other sources lead to death, because they are dead idols. They have no life and can give no life.