The Proper Posture of Corporate Prayer

As a new congregant, I stand amidst my loving, nurturing Bible-focused, reformed evangelical (old school non-emergent)church deep in the heart of Texas. The associate pastor welcomes the faithful and visitors to our worship gathering. He jubilantly proclaims that we are “perfectly okay” with whatever outward physical form of prayer, praise, worship, supplication makes one comfortable. If the Spirit of God moves you to “spin around in your chair, go ahead and spin for the Lord.” 

New to this whole evangelical scene, I ponder this exhortation. The pastor alludes to various  postures and actions of the church body in worship and prayer: hands raised aloft toward Heaven, hands clapping fervently, joyous head-bobbing, mouths proclaiming “amen” and “Thank you Jesus,” loud singing. Wow! Since I insist on taking a place in the very front of the church–actually the second row since my wife considers the front row too bold and exposed– I hardly see what my brothers and sisters are doing. I, being an old traditionalist church stick-in -the-mud, hardly do anything at all during worship. I slightly rock on my feet as the wonderful contemporary worship music plays, I rest my hands on the chair in front of me (my wife is right–we do need a barrier!) and tap my fingers lightly.  I pretend to sing, but my shockingly dissonant voice keeps me from overcommitting to the Lord in that area. During prayer and teaching, I often hold my wife’s hand. That’s the full extent of my worship gymnastics.

Now I’ve started to notice my brothers and sisters behind and to the side of me. It’s not quite the synchronous choreography I see on TV of those megachurch gospel choirs  , but they  are, in their own little ways, moving and shaking over there! Wide arm-swinging clapping, side-to-side dance steps reflecting the upbeat flow of the worship music. Arms are outstretched and calls to the Lord resound. What am I doing? Tapping my fingers and shifting my weight deliberatelyfrom right to left foot!

My conclusion:

1. I am missing something

2. I am a fuddy-duddy

3. I look like a church dork

4. I appear to not really be into the whole church thing

So my question is: what should I do? How can I loosen up? Do I need to? Am I compromising my worship by being so stiff? I grew up in Brooklyn, and I know well the Jewish Hasidism have a centuries-old traditon of dancing and joyously proclaiming their Talmudic faith. The men dancing arm in arm in great circles, beards flowing, mouths beaming smiles to heaven. They look joyous even dressed in the blandest 17th century black garb.

And me? Now I am surrounded by fellow saints who openly reflect the joy of their salvation. Am I actually at heart some ultraconservative puritan who disdains outward bursts of joy in God’s presence? Deep down do I believe  music and dancing are the devil’s tools? 

Like Martin Luther do I seek to constantly beat back the devil and therefore maintain a seriousness of purpose in worship?

Or do I merely fear that my own physical expression of joy will come up short in men’s eyes. Will a “white man’s overbite”  or other quirk emerge and reveal me for what I am–out of place, uncomfortable, an outsider? 

Should I be concerned about my prayer posture? What suggestions can you offer? How can I find my personal rhythm in God’s house? Or should I just forgot about all this and realize that I am just a Monk (TV Monk), probably neurotic and way too self-conscious for my own good??

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Published in: on August 12, 2009 at 12:57 pm  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You’ll be bopping in no time. I’m serious. WHO was the one inquiring about worship and praise cds from other church members? If I remember correctly, that was you. And WHO has made himself (more than one!) cds to listen to and sing your heart out to in his car? That would be you also. And WHO secretly LOVES singing and (car) dancing in praise to our wonderful Savior? You guessed it. You just don’t like doing that in front of other people.

    Yet. 🙂

    • There goes the congregation!

  2. I once was where you are now. Swing a glance back at where I and my lovely wife sit and you will see me moving and clapping…just a little.

    • Maybe all I need is inspiration! Thanks.

  3. Proper posture. Being with a group of people that are loving. People that love God and love people. We love God by loving people, and making the things that are important to God important to us. And what’s important to God is us, you, me, we, them, they, people. People are important. Isn’t that the proper posture?

  4. oh yeah i like your writing, you have a gift. thanks for sharing and leting us share.


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