What Is My Body Language Saying When I Pray?

So this thought has been on my mind for a while now.  When I got my undergraduate degree I minored in communication.  One of the first things they teach you in communication class is that verbal communication (speaking) is only a small portion of communication.  Non-verbal communication also plays a key role in how people understand your message. You and I get this.  If I never make eye-contact with you while talking to you in a private conversation, you will think somethings up.  If you say yes and shake your head no, I’ll be confused.  If you frown at me and tell me that I did an outstanding job, I might think you’re mad about it.  We get non-verbal communication.

We judge people on how they present themselves. We evaluate the kind of handshakes we receive when meeting a client or sales person for the first time.  We imagine that students who wear nice cloths are more respectful to the teacher than those who show up to class with their hair disheveled wearing a t-shirt.

Our body language says a lot.  So why is it that when it comes to communication with God, we would want to leave that out?  I know God knows our heart and doesn’t need us to get on our knees to signal that we are ready to talk with and listen to Him.  Forget for a moment how the message is received.  I’m confident that God knows our own hearts better than we do.  I’m more concerned about what we are actually saying when we don’t assume a posture that expresses what our heart is saying. Can you really call out to God face down on your pillow a few minutes before you drift to sleep?  Why not kneel or lay on your face on the cold hard ground.  One of the things I noticed reading through the Bible is the physical response of people to God.  It’s not as though God doesn’t understand the heart, but I’m not sure our heart is really saying what we want it to if we can’t make our bodies say it as well.

I’m sure these aren’t new thoughts.  I’m learning more and more about a false dichotomy that exists in me and many others between the mind and body.  I’m thankful for what I have learned about Bonhoeffer and others when it comes to “making our bodies say what our heart is saying.”

How about you? What are your thoughts on the body language of prayer?
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One thought on “What Is My Body Language Saying When I Pray?

  1. shelley

    I actually never thought of that! I will now. I guess I
    need to think more of my body-language during my prayer time. Like
    you say, calling on God while laying down ready for bed is not very
    respectful. Thank you Jonathan, for your insight! I enjoy reading
    your blogs!


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