Three Questions About Prayer: Fold Hands, Close Eyes, Bow Head

Last Sunday I talked about the use and meaning of amen, and on Thursday I shared how amen is used in the Bible: primarily as a way to end a prayer.

Three more prayer conventions perplex me as well. The first is to fold our hands while praying, the second is to close our eyes, and the third is to bow our head. I’ve searched for years and haven’t yet found any command in the Bible to fold hands, close eyes, or bow heads when we pray.

However, I have discovered some interesting allusions about these ideas in the Bible. The implication of folding hands is idleness, leading to poverty and ruin. While closing eyes is usually a euphemism for death or a reference to ignoring truth. Last, bowed heads signifies grief, repentance, or death.

Aside from repenting, I don’t see any of these ideas fitting in with prayer and communing with God.

So, just as we should reconsider our routine of ending prayers with “amen,” we may also want to reexamine our training, and even our compulsion, to only pray with our hands folded, eyes closed, and head bowed. Although Jesus gives us the freedom to do these things, he also gives us the freedom not to. If these actions help us pray, great; if they hinder us, we need to set them aside.

Prayer is about God; how we pray is secondary.

4 thoughts on “Three Questions About Prayer: Fold Hands, Close Eyes, Bow Head

  1. Interesting thoughts, Peter. I try to be aware of this myself when I pray and also when I pray with my daughter. I don’t want her to grow up with the impression that this is the only way to pray.

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