Several years ago, I was praising God through prayer. I have the habit of lowering my head and humbling myself before the Lord when I pray. This is not a bad thing, but at that particular moment I wanted to feel as if God’s radiance was shining down on me. So, I lifted my face to the sky. This simple shift in gesture opened my heart to God’s greatness and provision in a new way. He already knew the intentions of my heart, but what joy I must have brought Him by letting my body and actions reflect what my heart felt.
In worship and prayer, body language speaks to God just as much as words. I actually tend to worship with my arms crossed in front of my chest. This position typically expresses being closed off to others. I don’t stand in this position because I’m closed off to God, I stand in this position out of habit. I actually stand with my arms crossed pretty regularly. I used to cross my arms as a teen to hide myself and now that position has become natural and comfortable. It’s nice to be comfortable when I’m spending time with God.
God understands why I hold myself this way. But He desires more from me than a stagnant worship language. He sees how this position can pull me back toward who I was, not closer to who He is currently molding me to be. God wants more from me than what’s comfortable. Because, my comfort can actually negatively bind my prayer and worship life. God desires for me to be open and engaged with Him.
Interestingly, when I journal, pray and have my quiet time, I often create a very comfortable and cozy environment. Right now, for example, I have soft music playing in the background, a great cup of chai tea, a cozy fire and I am curled up on the couch with a fluffy blanket. This is a very different kind of comfortable than a habit that was instilled because I was fearful and hiding. My quiet time with God is intimate. My legs are crossed, my chest is open, and my hands are interacting intently with the page in which I am writing.
It’s not just the environment that makes my quiet time intimate, it’s my body language because the tone set by my body speaks just as much as the words I write or say. God doesn’t want me to hold a posture if it doesn’t match the character and personality of who He made me to be or the relationship I’ve established with Him.
So, what does the Bible say about worshiping God with our bodies? There are a lot of examples, expressing that there’s no physical formula for how we worship God. It’s the heart that is God’s greatest concern:
Psalm 95:6, “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”
Nehemiah 8:6, “Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, ‘Amen! Amen.’ Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.”
Psalm 121:1, “I lift my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
1 Corinthians has great examples of how we should stand firm in our faith.
Psalms has all kinds of illustrations of lifting our hands to the Lord while worshiping.
God wants us to be actively engaging in our time with Him because He is the authority of love and compassion and deserves our praise. We don’t need to follow all these examples from scripture, and we may not be comfortable with any of them. But we do need to be aware of what our body language tells God when we pray to Him, worship Him and live our daily life with Him. Let’s challenge ourselves to make small alterations to our body language as we grow closer to God and see how it affects our relationship with Him.