Prayer Postures

What is it?
  • A type of prayer that puts the body into a specific posture to accentuate the prayer—intentionally adding the body to the prayer of mind and soul makes a more complete offering of self.
  • A prayer posture is a form of listening that invites prayer to come from a deeper place within. Putting the body in a particular position can stimulate a unique prayer.
  • Prayer postures can give people access to prayer when words fail them. By forming the posture from how they are feeling in that moment, people are able to present themselves to God with an authenticity that is different from words.
Why is it important?
  • When we are first taught to pray, traditional postures are often taught along with the words: folded hands, bowed head, and kneeling. Paying attention to our posture and letting it help guide and focus our prayer can move us to a deeper sense of the interior movements of our own souls.
  • While we can make prayer one of the many things we multitask during our day, such as, while driving, cleaning, or waiting in line, we need to set aside some time where all we do is pray. Adding a posture or series of postures to our prayer helps us make a total commitment resulting in a fuller connection with God.
  • Attention to our prayer posture and the feelings it evokes gives us an appreciation of how everything we do can contribute to or distract from our prayer life. Paying attention to our response to particular postures can help guide us to body postures and movements that can enhance our connection to God.
Scriptures for Reflection
  • May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. —1 Thessalonians 5:23 NRSV
  • You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. —Mark 12:30 NRSV
  • The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receiveth a fullness of joy; and when separated, man cannot receive a fullness of joy. —Doctrine and Covenants 90:5e
The Practice
  1. Show the group members three postures they will experience for this spiritual exercise (a list of posture descriptions is provided below). Indicate the signal you will use to end one posture and begin another. A chime or a single word identifying the next posture works well.
  2. Explain to the group members that they will not be offering up any words of prayer but will instead be focused on sensing what type of prayer wants to emerge from them as they hold each posture.
  3. Lead the group in three deep cleansing breaths as preparation for this exercise.
  4. Direct the group to move into the first posture and hold it for at least one minute. Pronounce an “Amen” or other signal word to indicate the time for the posture is concluded.
  5. Direct the group to move into the second posture and hold it for at least one minute. Pronounce an “Amen” to indicate the time for the posture is concluded.
  6. Direct the group to move into the third posture and hold it for at least one minute. Pronounce an “Amen” to indicate the time for the posture is concluded.
  7. Invite each person to share what this was like for them and what type of prayers came up within them.
  8. Challenge the group to come up with other postures for prayer.

Prayer Postures (to choose from)

  • Head bowed with hands folded
  • Sitting with hands extended, palms up—optionally, rest the backs of the hands on the thighs
  • Sitting or standing with arms stretched upward
  • Both hands clasped over the heart
  • Kneeling
  • Lying prostrate on the ground with arms outstretched, forming a cross with the body

Additional Resources 

Jane E. Vennard. Praying with Body and Soul: A Way to Intimacy with God. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Fortress, 1998.