Selected Messages Book 3


Chapter 30—The Propriety of Varying Postures in Prayer

Need Not Always Kneel

We must pray constantly, with a humble mind and a meek and lowly spirit. We need not wait for an opportunity to kneel before God. We can pray and talk with the Lord wherever we may be. [Elder D. E. Robinson, one of Ellen White's secretaries from 1902 to 1915, reported:

“I have been present repeatedly at camp meetings and General Conference sessions in which Sister White herself has offered prayer with the congregation standing, and she herself standing.”—D. E. Robinson letter, March 4, 1934.]—Letter 342, 1906. 3SM 266.1

No Place Inappropriate for Prayer at Any Time or Place—There is no time or place in which it is inappropriate to offer up a petition to God.... In the crowds of the street, in the midst of a business engagement, we may send up a petition to God, and plead for divine guidance, as did Nehemiah when he made his request before King Artaxerxes.—Steps to Christ, 99. 3SM 266.2

Communing With God in Our Hearts as We Walk and Work—We may speak with Jesus as we walk by the way, and He says, I am at thy right hand. We may commune with God in our hearts; we may walk in companionship with Christ. When engaged in our daily labor, we may breathe out our heart's desire, inaudible to any human ear; but that word cannot die away into silence, nor can it be lost. Nothing can drown the soul's desire. It rises above the din of the street, above the noise of machinery. It is God to whom we are speaking, and our prayer is heard.—Gospel Workers, 258. 3SM 266.3

Not Always Necessary to Bow—It is not always necessary to bow upon your knees in order to pray. Cultivate the habit of talking with the Saviour when you are alone, when you are walking, and when you are busy with your daily labor.—The Ministry of Healing, 510, 511. 3SM 267.1

Congregation Kneels After Standing in Consecration—The Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and was revealed in the words that were given me to speak. I asked those present who felt the urgency of the Spirit of God, and who were willing to pledge themselves to live the truth and to teach the truth to others, and to work for their salvation, to make it manifest by rising to their feet. I was surprised to see the whole congregation rise. I then asked all to kneel down, and I sent up my petition to heaven for that people. I was deeply impressed by this experience. I felt the deep moving of the Spirit of God upon me, and I know that the Lord gave me a special message for His people at this time.—The Review and Herald, March 11, 1909. 3SM 267.2

Crowded Congregation in Europe Remained Seated—I invited those who desired the prayers of the servants of God to come forward. All who had been backslidden, all who wished to return to the Lord and seek Him diligently, could improve the opportunity. Several seats were quickly filled and the whole congregation was on the move. We told them the best they could do was to be seated right where they were and we would all seek the Lord together by confessing our sins, and the Lord had pledged His word, “if we confess our sins, he is faithful, and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).—Diary, February 20, 1887. (Published in Selected Messages 1:147.) 3SM 267.3

Congregation Rises to Feet for Consecration Prayer—I invited all who wanted to give themselves to God in a sacred covenant, and to serve Him with their whole hearts, to rise to their feet. The house was full, and nearly all rose. Quite a number not of our faith were present, and some of these arose. I presented them to the Lord in earnest prayer, and we know that we had the manifestation of the Spirit of God. We felt that a victory had indeed been gained.—Manuscript 30a, 1896 (Published in Selected Messages 1:150.) 3SM 268.1

Congregation Kneels for Consecration Prayer—At the close of my discourse, I felt impressed by the Spirit of God to extend an invitation for all those to come forward who desired to give themselves fully to the Lord. Those who felt the need of the prayers of the servants of God were invited to make it manifest. About thirty came forward.... 3SM 268.2

At first I had hesitated, wondering if it were best to do so when my son and I were the only ones whom I could see who would give us any help on that occasion. But as though someone had spoken to me, the thought passed through my mind, “Cannot you trust in the Lord?” I said, “I will, Lord.” Although my son was much surprised that I should make such a call on this occasion, he was equal to the emergency. I never heard him speak with greater power or deeper feeling than at that time.... 3SM 268.3

We knelt in prayer. My son took the lead, and the Lord surely indited his petition; for he seemed to pray as though in the presence of God.—The Review and Herald, July 30, 1895 (Republished in Selected Messages 1:148, 149.) 3SM 268.4

At a Workers Institute in Oakland, California—Now we ask you to seek the Lord with all the heart. Will those who are determined to cut loose from every temptation of the enemy, and to seek for heaven above, signify such determination by rising to their feet. [Nearly all of the congregation present responded.] 3SM 268.5

We desire that every one of you shall be saved. We desire that for you the gates of the city of God shall swing back on their glittering hinges, and that you, with all the nations who have kept the truth, may enter in. There we shall give praise and thanksgiving and glory to Christ and to the Father evermore, even forever and ever. May God help us to be faithful in His service during the conflict, and overcome at last, and win the crown of life eternal. 3SM 269.1

[Praying] My heavenly Father, I come to Thee at this time, just as I am, poor and needy, and dependent upon Thee. I ask Thee to give me and give this people the grace that perfects Christian character, et cetera.—The Review and Herald, July 16, 1908. 3SM 269.2

Ellen White and Audience Standing for Consecration Prayer—Who now, I ask, will make a determined effort to obtain the higher education. Those who will, make it manifest by rising to your feet. [The congregation rose.] Here is the whole congregation. May God help you to keep your pledge. Let us pray. 3SM 269.3

[Praying] Heavenly Father, I come to Thee at this time, just as I am, poor, weak, unworthy, and I ask Thee to impress the hearts of this people gathered here today. I have spoken to them Thy words, but, O Lord, Thou alone canst make the word effective, et cetera.—The Review and Herald, April 8, 1909 (Sermon at Oakland, California, February 8, 1909.) 3SM 269.4

At the Close of a General Conference Sermon in Washington, D.C. [The sincere Christian is often in prayer in public and in private. He prays while walking on the street, while engaged in his work, and in the wakeful hours of the night. Ellen White counseled in a statement appearing in Gospel Workers, 178, that “Both in public and in private worship, it is our privilege to bow on our knees before the Lord when we offer our petitions to Him.” The following statement on this point, written in Australia and found in Selected Messages 2:312, is more emphatic: “Both in public and private worship it is our duty to bow down upon our knees before God when we offer our petitions to Him. This act shows our dependence upon God.” It is also a sign of reverence: “There should be an intelligent knowledge of how to come to God in reverence and Godly fear with devotional love. There is a growing lack of reverence for our maker, a growing disregard of His greatness and His majesty.”—Manuscript 84b, 1897 (Quoted in Selected Messages 2:312.) That Ellen White did not intend to teach that on every prayer occasion we must kneel is made clear both by her words and her example. To her there was no time or place where prayer was not appropriate. Her family testified that in her home those at the dining table bowed their heads and not their knees. She was not known to kneel for the benediction at the close of services she attended. The earnest counsel on kneeling would seem to have its principal application in the worship services in the house of God and in family and private devotions at home. In public ministry there were times when she stood for prayer.—Compilers.]—May the Lord help you to take hold of this work as you have never yet taken hold of it. Will you do this? Will you here rise to your feet and testify that you will make God your trust and your helper? [Congregation rises.] 3SM 269.5

[Praying] I thank Thee, Lord God of Israel. Accept this pledge of this Thy people. Put Thy Spirit upon them. Let Thy glory be seen in them. As they shall speak the word of truth, let us see the salvation of God. Amen.—The General Conference Bulletin, May 18, 1909. 3SM 270.1