There are different physical expressions in prayer. For example people can scream when they are praying, lifting up their voice in a loud cry.
Hezekiah decided he was going to face the wall, Elijah bent over like someone in deep pain, Hannah was moving like someone drunk as she expressed her desire to God.
Paul mentioned the fact that he bent his knees in devotion to God. He also referred to the lifting up of the hands. Another physical expression in prayer is tears.
One thing that is common in prayer is that things are said, but the physical expression of the prayer is varied. Any attempt to give a regulation to the physical expression of prayer is humanistic rubbish, it is to excoriate the emotion out of the devotion of prayer. The emotion is part of who you are, and if anything less than who you are is expressed in prayer then the prayer is less than it can be. Prayer should be done with the whole of the heart. Loving God should be expressed in prayer and we were told to love the lord our God with all our might, mind, heart. Prayer should not be half hearted, we should not allow self consciousness to make prayer less than it should be.
How about learning from Jesus about physicality in prayer? While before the grave of Lazarus, he wept, and lifted up his voice in prayer. When the disciples came back from a time of ministry, the bible says that he rejoiced in the spirit, and thanked God for revealing things to babes and not to the high people in the society. They won’t know he rejoiced if he did n express that joy. That means you can laugh as you pray.
While he was in the garden of Gethsemane, he was in serious distress, and that was manifested physically in sweat like blood drops. When you see him in that position, you would not see Jesus with a calm demeanor, as what was going on inwardly became manifested physically.
Daniel decided that he was going to face Jerusalem in us regular prayer I a foreign land, showing his heart. The physicality of your prayer shows your heart.
While the physicality of prayer does not guarantee that prayer will be answered, its value is in how it reflects what is going on in the heart. There are people that are too cool to express anything in prayer, or are intimidated by those who are expressive in prayer and so push for a ban on such expression, constituting themselves to mockers.
God looks at the heart. Fine. But the heart is expressed in the act. God declared a damning judgement on Ahab but how he started wearing sack cloth after that touched the heart of God and he modified the punishment.
When you command or dictate for others certain physical posture in worship or prayer (prayer is also worship) the whole purpose is defeated. God wants your expression of devotion to be voluntary, just as he loves a cheerful giver, giving not by compulsion but willingly.
I should be free to sit down if I want to sit down, there should not be a contraint against physical expression in prayer and there should not be a commandment for it.
In Christ we have the freedom to express and the freedom not to express anything, the one who expresses should not think those who are less expressive are less, and the less expressive should not think that the expressive are playing to the gallery.
We have a bunch of humanists rubbish coming into the church, where everything is reduced to the confines of logic. There is nothing logical about raising your voice in prayer since God is not deaf, there is nothing logical about weeping in prayer because God is spirit. Embracing such line of reasoning is humanistic rubbish. There is nothing wrong with physical expression, God made us emotional beings for a reason, and emotions get expressed. Period. If you feel deeply enough about it, you will express it.
There is nothing wrong with emotions. God is emotional, but there is the humanistic rubbish in which the places in the bible where God expressed emotions are regarded as merely symbolic.
Everybody has emotions, and there is no better place to express emotions than pray. Prayer is serious business. It should involve everything: spirit, soul and body. Peter said that we should be serious minded about prayer. When praying, we should not bother about what others can say.
Concerning Elijah, James wrote that he prayed earnestly. There was a certain intensity in his prayer. We learnt that he prayed fervently. “Fervently” is an emotive word. James added that the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous avails much.
The “effectual” aspect is about praying the will of God, (soul) the “righteous” aspect is about right standing with God in your personal life (spirit). But the “fervently” is about physical expression. Anything and anyone therefore that reduces from the importance of the physicality of prayer, attacks the core of prayer.
In the Old Testament, we saw that Elijah went up the mount and bent down like a woman in labour, asking his servants to, at intervals, check the cloud. It was James who told us that what Elijah was doing was pray that it might rain on the earth.
He was in a groaning posture even though he had the word of God that he was going to send rain on the earth. So the physicality of prayer is not about getting God to do what he does not want to do, just the expression of the pressure we are sensing in our spirit, it is sharing the burden of Jesus concerning the matter.
Jesus complained that the disciples did not share his burden of prayer while he was near carrying the cross. They choose to yield to sleep, while he agonized in prayer.
If you see the way the writer of the book of Hebrews described the prayer life of Jesus, you will understand more about the physicality of prayer and he is the one we are supposed to follow.
“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. – Hebrews 5:7” Esv
There is nothing “cool” about loud cries and tears. He offered intense prayer so that he can be saved from death? That was not the impression you get when just reading through the gospels.
But wasn’t it prophesied that Jesus was going to rise up, why then did he have to pray hard for it? The answer is that he was not supposed to rise up without his own active involvement and what is where the tears come in. Who says the physicality of prayer is not important, if Jesus did it, it is more than important, it is necessary.
What about the Holy Spirit? We were told that he intercedes for us with groaning which cannot be uttered. Groaning is not gentlemanly. It is an expression of an intense feeling. Holy Spirit has feelings, that is why we are told not to grieve the Holy Spirit.
So if the Holy Spirit is groaning and you are in tune with him at a particular moment, won’t you also groan? Groaning is intense desire for something (goes with a spiritual birthing process following the natural one). Please let’s stop this humanistic rubbish that reduces the importance of the physicality of prayer.
Rightly so we are taught the importance of the word of God in prayer, but if we are emotional beings, we should be free to express our emotions anyhow we want. To deprive me of my physicality in prayer is to deny God of his enjoyment of me in my prayer, enjoyment of my lack of shame in connecting with him in prayer.
What if my physicality offends others, should I then cage myself? Maybe you can, but don’t let anyone rubbish you, judge you with their humanistic, pseudo faith concepts.