Several people have asked me in the past few months, “When did we stop kneeling to pray here at the Church of Our Saviour?” My first response to them is, “As far as I know, we haven’t.” However, a slightly longer response is also in order.
If the real question being asked is, “When did we all stop kneeling simultaneously to pray here at the Church of Our Saviour?”, then my response is somewhat different. I certainly cannot speak about our corporate prayer posture before I arrived in mid-February, but I can say that my own understanding of corporate worship doesn’t call for us to pray in the same way. In our Book of Common Prayer, there are occasional directions in the rubrics (the words in small print written in italics) for the congregation to stand (as during the Opening Sentences or the Nicene Creed) or sit (as during the readings and sermon). But there are no rubrical directions for prayer posture during the Prayers of the People, the Confession, or the Post-Communion Prayer. And during the eucharistic prayer, after the “Holy, holy, holy”, the congregation is directed to stand or kneel. So, clearly, the writers of the Prayer Book were quite intentional about not imposing an expectation that there is a “right” way to pray.
Rather, my words of encouragement to you are to assume a posture of prayer which allows you to most fully enter into that dialogue with God, where you can speak – and more importantly listen – in that holy conversation. If you are a kneeler, then kneel. If you are a stander, then stand. And frankly, if you are a sitter, then please feel free to sit. At the end of the day, what is important to remember is that “unity is not the same as uniformity.” What binds us together as God’s holy people is not that we are all doing exactly the same thing at the same time. What binds us together is our loving God who invites us to gather for worship and praise, giving thanks to God for all the blessings we have received.