Author Topic: On your face prayer  (Read 865 times)

Offline Paula

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On your face prayer
« on: December 15, 2011, 08:08:57 pm »
I asked my priest if there is a particular position best for prayer.  He said he prays in all kinds of ways, including of course kneeling and just sitting in a chair.  And he also said sometimes he gets down on the floor, on his face before God.  That kind of intruiged me--I know it is part of the ordination ceremony....but is this a common practice among anyone but priests (or deacons)?  I finally tried it myself, and I found myself in a different kind of prayer altogether.  It may sound silly, but it's like the very air I was breathing was more holy, I guess because I was aware of and responding to God's holiness in a brand new way.  But is such a thing too presumptuous for a layperson?
Paula

Offline David W. Emery

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Re: On your face prayer
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2011, 08:26:50 pm »
This on-your-face posture is officially known as “prostration.” Yes, people know it from the Rite of Ordination, but it is much more common than you may have thought. A variation of it is the kneeling bow, similar to what you see Muslims doing at prayer. This, too, is perfectly legitimate for Christians.

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Is such a thing too presumptuous for a layperson?

Not at all, Paula. I know a number of lay people that do it regularly, especially when at Adoration. I’ve done it myself, too… although, as I get older, it’s getting more difficult for me to get down and up, so it’s more of an occasional thing for me now. If you find that getting all the way down on the floor helps you to pray, feel free to do it — at least when alone and not too self-conscious. :)

David

Offline Christ Follower

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Re: On your face prayer
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2011, 08:29:48 pm »
I am responding as a Protestant but I find praying in the prostrate position is very humbling as well.  I read a quote once with regards to this and it went something like........In God's economy the way up is down.  Hope it is ok to post this.  Blessings, Barbara

Offline David W. Emery

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Re: On your face prayer
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2011, 08:37:42 pm »
Of course it’s OK, Barbara. What you are offering is simply a variation of the Gospel verse, “He who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14 and parallels). One’s physical attitude can indeed influence one’s spiritual attitude.

David

Online Estelle

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Re: On your face prayer
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2011, 08:38:35 pm »
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the way up is down
Oh I do like that! I've done it myself before and feel so much closer to Him when I do. I'm not sure I'm explaining this the right way but I feel less unworthy if that makes any sense.
Lord, I want to do only Your Holy Will.
Please increase my trust in You.
Let my words and deeds be only a reflection of You.

Offline Paula

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Re: On your face prayer
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2011, 08:58:44 pm »
Thanks for your responses, David and Barbara.  (Barbara, your input is quite welcome--I was a Protestant myself until barely a few months ago, so I know they can think clearly and offer valuable opinions!)  I think it's probably true that the best way up is down, because the most dramatic answers to prayer I've experienced occured after I was on my knees in tears.
   David, LOL, I think my first experience of prostration actually on the floor will probably be my last!  With my replaced knee still limited in mobility and my other knee not in great shape, it looked for a while that getting up again was quite impossible.  Eventually I managed to get back up, but I've decided maybe I should compromise and lay on my bed, a much safer proposition.
   Good news, speaking of prayer positions!  Finally, finally, I can kneel at Mass or during Adoration for pretty good stretches of time,  and I'm so happy because everyone I asked who had had the replacement said I would never be capable of kneeling again.
   What is it about prostration that makes it so different?  Is it the humility of it?  Also, so many customs in the Church have their roots in Hebrew practices.  Was prostration known commonly in the ancient Hebrew faith?   I remember that David prayed prostrate on the floor as his child was dying, but was that an isolated thing?

Offline Paula

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Re: On your face prayer
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2011, 09:03:48 pm »
Just read your post, Estelle. ;D   I think you're on target.  We feel less unworthy because we are in our most proper place!  Paula

Offline Pani Rose

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Re: On your face prayer
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2011, 11:10:54 pm »
It is very much a part of prayer life in the Eastern Church, especially during Great and Holy Lent.

  Now if I could just convince my body it could do that without the paramedics having to come and get me up from the floor.

All joking aside, it is so beautiful to see the body of Christ gather in prostrations as the Eucharist is brought for in procession during the Pre-Sactified Liturgy.
The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love.   (Zephaniah 3:17)

Pani Rose

Offline David W. Emery

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Re: On your face prayer
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2011, 10:35:43 am »
Quote from: Paula
What is it about prostration that makes it so different? Is it the humility of it? Also, so many customs in the Church have their roots in Hebrew practices. Was prostration known commonly in the ancient Hebrew faith? I remember that David prayed prostrate on the floor as his child was dying, but was that an isolated thing?

Yes, the physical lowering of one’s head in an act of respect — even of adoration — helps to produce the feeling of humility in the heart, especially in these days, when it is not a general cultural practice.

“Bowing down” to one’s superior, be it parents, employer, nobleman, king, prophet, priest or God, has from ancient times been the standard way in most of the world — including the Middle East — of showing respect. This has always involved placing one’s head lower than that of the one addressed. The Israelites, of course, continued the practice of their forebears, and you can find it throughout the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments. (See, for instance, Genesis 33:6–7; 43:26; Judges 2:12; 1 Kings 2:19; 2 Chronicles 29:30; Judith 4:11; 13:17; Esther 3:2; Sirach 50:21; Luke 24:55; Romans 11:4.) In modern times, Jews have moved away from actual prostrations, but they still make token obeisances with the constant bowing of the head and slight bending of the body while in prayer — “curtsies,” as it were. (They claim to have a rabbinical reason for these movements in lieu of standing still, but it is not altogether convincing.)

Pani Rose has related in her post how the Eastern Rites of the Church have preserved congregational prostrations during Lent. Western-style pews do not lend themselves to congregational prostration, but a vestige of the original Western practice is preserved in the Roman Rite, when the priest(s) and deacon(s) prostrate themselves before the altar at the beginning of the Good Friday Service.

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David, LOL, I think my first experience of prostration actually on the floor will probably be my last!

I find that holding onto furniture helps. ;)

David