Sitting, Standing, and Bowing: Postures of Prayer and Praise
During the worship services the general “rule” is that we sit for instruction, and stand for confession, prayer, praise, and thanksgiving. While it is customary to sit and stand at certain parts of the worship services, it is not a legalistic requirement. If you are unable to stand, or have difficulty standing, please feel free to remain seated at the times we stand.
Bowing is another common posture of prayer and praise in the worship life of Christians. Bowing is a sign of reverence and respect. In the ancient world, people bowed to emperors and kings. In part, this made them defenseless and vulnerable to attack, putting their necks open to the king’s sword and placing them under his mercy.
We bow before our Lord because we live under His mercy shown to us in Jesus Christ. The bending low of our bodies before him is an outward sign of repentant faith. We confess our sins, yet trust that the Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love toward us. He forgives. He is merciful. We bow before the Lord in reverent faith, because we fear, love, and trust in Him alone. We bow out of respect for his divine majesty, as Isaiah did in his presence in Isaiah 6:2.
With that in mind, some Christians bow at the mention of the Holy Trinity and/or the incarnation of the Son of God in the Nicene Creed. Similarly, in keeping with St. Paul’s words, many Christians bow “at the name of Jesus”, when the Gloria Patri or when another Trinitarian doxology is sung. The pastor will also bow, or genuflect, by the altar during the words of institution/consecration of the body and blood of Jesus. This is done as a visible confession of Jesus’ presence and pardon for us in the Lord’s Supper we are about to receive.