July has been a month of face on the ground praying. I don’t mean to sound woeful, nor do I want to imply that prostrate praying is super spiritual or noble or better. It’s not very pretty. It involves cramped knees (for the over 40) and more than a little snot because face down praying usually includes crying: you either were crying, are crying, or are about to start crying. I’ve found it to be a solitary activity. Usually no one’s with you when you pray on your face, except God of course. He’s right there with you.
All is well for the Allords. Really. Good, in fact. But this past month has been intense for all of us in terms of the spiritual. In.Tense.
What’s going on? you may be asking. Life. Life is going on and life with a 45, 43, 17, and 12-year-old can get dicey, just as it would if you scramble those numbers any which way. Sorry if you’re hoping for more details here but I’m not that blogger who regurgitates every little thing in the fashion of keeping it real. We can be real and raw and wisely exercise restraint.
So back to this uncomfortable, strange, somewhat humiliating practice of praying on your face. The other day I pondered why, with the exception of doing yoga, would someone in “real life” end up on his or her face? Here’s what I came up with:
They slip and fall.
They get hit or hurt and fall.
They trip (either by someone or by their own doing) and fall.
Their knees gave way from intense fear, grief, exhaustion, joy, or awe and they fall.
Notice a common theme here? People end up on their faces because they fall. In other words, because they can no longer stand. In other words, because they’ve come to an end of themselves and lose control, if only for that moment. In day to day life, people don’t choose to physically end up on their faces. When you trip on a roller skate in the black of night and are flailing around like a cartoon character you don’t think, “And now I’m going to put my face to the ground because I am completely out of control of this situation and I might possibly need a little help.”
But when we choose to go face to floor in prayer that is exactly what we’re saying. That above list? Of why people end up on their face? It translates from physical to spiritual pretty easily. We fall on our face to pray because of those same reasons.
Praying on your face is not a requirement for being a “good Christian”. Thank the Lord Jesus Christ we are not under a set of rules to woo him. So why pray on your face? What is it?
- a concrete, deliberate act that says, HELP ME because I’VE GOT NOTHING.
- a physical reminder of spiritual dependence.
- a surrendering of rights, control, will, and pride.
- applied humility which, in due time, results in exaltation.
Praying face down is the quiet rhythm that clashes with the stand up and fight song the world screams. It’s the bowing down low before the rising up again.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. (James 4:10)