The day God told me to kneel

Photo by  Diana Simumpande
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
— James 4:10

This past fall, God told me to kneel.

I was seeking his guidance on a decision I had to make that day, and my mind was filled with questions about a particular situation.

I was hurting and anxious—focused more on determining the outcome of my time with God than on the process of getting there with him.

I started presenting my case in a businesslike fashion. I had things to do, I just needed to get this taken care of so I knew how to proceed.

Then a voice in my head spoke with gentle humour. “You know, you should really kneel.”

The voice didn’t sound domineering or offended. It was just a quiet prompt, reminding me who I was speaking to.  

You’re right, I thought. You're the King of the universe. I should definitely be kneeling.

And at first, it was great. I felt all holy and special. Look what I’m doing, God. Look how much I love you. I’m kneeling on this hard floor just for you.

Of course, I quickly realized how dumb that sounded. My feeble action was completely incomparable to the hope, forgiveness and restoration that the Lord offers. He certainly doesn’t need me to kneel. In fact, he doesn’t need anything from me at all.

Somewhat humbled, I kept kneeling.

After a while, it began to feel even less glamorous. The pain in my knees grew steadily worse and my legs became numb. You may think I’m exaggerating, but if you ever try kneeling on hardwood for half an hour without a break you’ll know what I mean. Trust me, it hurts.

Once, I tried sitting back on my heels. Another time, I reached for a cushion to give my knees a break. Both times, the voice in my head clearly told me to stay where I was and to keep kneeling.

I began getting frustrated.

Okay God, what’s the point of this? Are you going to say something about my actual problem, or am I just going to keep kneeling all day?

Then gradually, I began to understand. God wasn’t asking me to kneel so he could feel special. In fact, I wasn’t really kneeling for him at all.

I needed to kneel because now it was no longer me alone in my bedroom talking to the air. Suddenly, this was a real, tangible conversation.

I needed to kneel because the situation I was worried about was big and heartbreaking and completely out of my control. I needed to be reminded that every circumstance is in the Lord's hands, and that my best option is to surrender to his will and move forward in his strength, rather than my own.

He’d told me to put my whole body into a posture of submission to remind me of my own smallness in comparison with his holiness and power.

I needed to kneel as a starting point. I needed to get my spirit and mind in the right attitude of putting God before my own comfort. I needed to stop worrying so much about my own needs and humbly seek the Lord. I think C.S. Lewis put it very well when he said:

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.
— C.S. Lewis

We need to have a right understanding of God’s greatness and our own weakness so we can leave our arrogance at the door and come in to pray.

And it was in that place of humility that the Lord met me in a way I’ve never encountered before. He asked me clearly to follow him, reminded me of the risks, and then gave me specific direction for that day’s decision.

I do not know how to describe the strength I felt going with me throughout that day. It was powerful and very real. I knew I was not alone, and that no matter what I was asked to do, I would be able to accomplish it because the Holy Spirit was with me.

I think this lesson was so valuable to me because our secular, Western society tends to treat very few things as genuinely sacred. This reminder that I serve a God who is legitimately worth kneeling for makes me take my faith far more seriously.

From that day on, I have tried to kneel at least once a day in prayer. I find it helps keep my brain from getting as distracted. More importantly, it’s a tangible reminder that God is God and I am only human.

Let me quickly add that I am by no means saying this is the only—or even the best—way to pray. I have had many conversations with God lying on the ground, walking outdoors, curled up in my bed or while taking a shower.

God has made a way for us to have deep, intimate relationships with him; we can come to him freely. And yet, even in our freedom, we cannot forget his majesty. He is perfectly holy, just, powerful and good in every way.

The deeper our awe and reverence for him is, the greater too is our understanding of just how vast his compassion is for us, who can never deserve it.