Standing. In my research several authors have stated that in the Old and New Testament time period standing was the most common position of prayer. I think this was true especially among the Jews, because when they prayed they most often prayed before the altar of the Lord; and since the altar was symbolic of God’s presence it was most appropriate to stand before it. The altar in the temple, being a magnificent sight, no doubt caused the pray-er to do more than just stand, but to stand in great awe of God.
In any case, whether before an altar or not, standing before God in prayer was mainly out of respect for the authority of God. Just as when a soldier stands at attention before his commander and salutes, those who stand and pray do it out of respect for God’s authority over them. This respect for the authority of God is probably the main reason why we stand to pray, but I want to mention the following five more reasons, six in all.
1. Our standing in prayer is out of respect for Him. God is our authority figure.
2. Our standing in prayer reminds us that we need to be examined by God. For standing is the position of examination. When we go to see a doctor to get an examination he will at some point tell us to stand up, because that is the position in which he can best check us over. Hence, when God examines us we are also required to stand.
In the Old Testament, when a woman was suspected of adultery by her husband she had to go before the priest, and the priest would then instruct her to stand before the Lord. The priest then forced the women to drink “holy water” mixed with dust. If she was found guilty the bitter drink became a curse to the woman, and it would cause her thighs to waste away and her abdomen to swell. But if she were innocent she would survive (Nu. 5:1-28).
When we stand before the Lord in prayer let us always remember that God is our examiner, and He requires us to be holy—free of the guilt of sin. He sees us thoroughly and He knows whether we have sinned or not. If we do not repent of our sin, and lie about it, saying that we have nor sinned, then we are under a curse; for the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). But thanks be to God, Jesus has died in our place. He has paid the price for our sin. All the sin He finds in us, if we confess it to Him, He will cleanse it from us with His blood (1 Jn. 1:9).
3. Standing in prayer may help us to see our obligation to be bold in our witness and testimony. For standing is a position of boldness. Paul stated that He was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16). Let us stand tall in prayer and declare with Paul our boldness for Christ.
4. Standing is a position of service. Those ministers who stand in front of their congregation and preach, they are performing a service to their people. To all believers, in whatever role you have, you need to remember that each one of you are priests of God, that you are to be servants like Christ was. For He came not to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many (Mk. 10:45). As we stand to pray, let us remember that we are God’s priests and we are standing in His service.
5. When we stand in prayer one of the reasons we stand is because we are in great awe of God’s glory. Just as when a crowd stands to cheer at a basketball game or when we stand in amazement at a fireworks display, we stand even more to see and behold the glory and majesty of God.
6. Standing is a position of strength and of defense. In the Christian life we are taught, especially from the book of Ephesians, that we must take a defensive stand against our enemy the devil.
Watchman Nee, in his book Sit, Walk, Stand, writes, “Our task is one of holding, not of attacking. It is a matter not of advance but of sphere, the sphere of Christ. In the person of Jesus Christ, God has already conquered. He has given us His victory to hold. Within the sphere of Christ the enemy’s defeat is already a fact, and the church has been put there to keep him defeated…In Christ we are conquerors—Nay, ‘more than conquerors’ (Rom. 8:37). In Him, therefore, we stand.”
Nee stresses in his book that if we are not sitting and resting in Christ then we “cannot hope to stand before the enemy.” In our standing then, we are sitting and resting in Christ. And likewise, in our sitting, we are walking in the spirit. As we stand against the enemy we have on the armor of Christ. Christ is our armor and our victory. And we do all of His work in His name. As we stand in prayer let us remember that we can stand fast against the devil if we are resting in Christ and are walking in His Spirit.