“How Are Your Knees?” The Powerful Practice of Kneeling in Prayer

How are your knees?

Because I’ve had a couple surgeries on that vulnerable joint halfway between my ankles and my hips, sometimes old friends who remember my tragic experience as an adult who should have known better than to join YMCA basketball leagues, ask me this question.

So, I have the same question for you. How are your knees?

A Priceless Blessing

Not long ago my large family celebrated the twenty-second anniversary of my dad’s step into heaven. This day always brings back memories about knees.

As a young boy, I remember something my father did, and it had to do with his knees. Samuel Wolgemuth was the pastor of a tiny church in south central Pennsylvania. Each Sunday morning, he would step onto the low platform, lay his Bible and notes down on the unpretentious pulpit, and drop to a knee. From this position he would pray, asking the Lord for His guidance as he brought the Word to the congregation gathered there.

I can see this as clearly as if it had happened this past weekend.

But kneeling to pray was not just a Sunday morning ritual for this man. 

Every morning, in the pre-dawn hours, Samuel knelt to pray. Opening his Bible on the chair in front him, my father would read a portion of Scripture and then bring his petitions to the Lord. In humility. On his knees.

His children could hear him praying. The timbre of his deep voice quietly reverberated through the house. As a man with a heart for God and for world missions, he’d pray for many of his friends who served in faraway places. He prayed for the church which he loved. And on his knees—again a familiar position before the Throne—he prayed for his family . . . his progeny, now counting more than he ever could have imagined when he was a young man plowing a field at his parents’ farm, walking behind a single mule. 

Humble prayer on a man’s knees has always been an important marker for me.

When I first met Nancy in 2003, I heard the story of her father, Arthur DeMoss. He was a man who had not grown up in a Christian home but who had been gloriously converted in his twenties while attending a revival meeting with a friend.

The firstborn of her six siblings, Nancy has vivid memories of what her father did early every morning. Just like my dad, Art DeMoss read God’s Word and prayed. On his knees. Can you imagine the priceless blessing that Nancy and I share, fathers who read their Bibles and prayed? On their knees?

More Than a Ritual

Not long ago I spent some time researching the accounts in Scripture . . . stories of people kneeling. Clearly one of my favorites is the story of Daniel. We read about his prayer habit in chapter 6 of the Old Testament book that bears his name. 

You may remember that even though Daniel was known and respected by the authorities in Babylon, where he lived as an exile, some of his enemies conspired against him. These men knew that Daniel prayed three times each day, but they also knew that King Darius forbade anyone living in the kingdom to pray to anyone except him. These suck-ups tricked Darius—who loved Daniel—into signing a law that if a person prayed to an unauthorized god, he would die. The sure penalty of breaking this law was that the guilty person would become mealtime for a pride of lions. 

Just as soon as he heard about the signing of this new law, Daniel went to his house, “The windows in its upstairs room opened toward Jerusalem, and . . . he got down on his knees, prayed, and gave thanks to his God” (Dan. 6:10).

The practice of kneeling was more than a benign ritual. In Daniel’s case, it was an in-your-face act of downright rebellion.

Another biblical account of kneeling can be found in the New Testament book of Acts. Even though envisioning Daniel’s bowing to pray is a dramatic display, there may be no more breathtaking narrative of kneeling in prayer than Stephen’s execution at the hands of the Sanhedrin, the self-righteous and arrogant, religious elite of his day. 

Not one to hold back from truth-telling, Stephen had looked into the faces of these truly evil men and boldly proclaimed: “You received the law under the direction of angels and yet have not kept it” (Acts 7:53). These guys were not humored, and, in a rage, dragged him outside town and executed him by stoning, a brutal and gruesome way to die—rocks painfully striking his face, crushing his eye, breaking his nose, or smashing his teeth. Blood splattering everywhere. Can you even imagine? This was Stephen’s awful demise. 

While they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” He knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ”Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” And after saying this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:59)

In spite of these dramatic accounts of kneeling, I think my favorite (Mark 5) is far less dramatic. Far more relatable and repeatable. A man named Jairus, a respected elder in the church, had a very sick daughter. As the father of two of them, I can relate.

In 1984, when Julie was born, the first words to me just outside the operating room, from the doctor who had just delivered her tiny body, were these: “You have a little girl, but there’s something wrong with her.”

Roll the clock back fifty years and you’ll find me in the fathers’ waiting room at the hospital, on my knees, pleading with my Father on behalf of my little girl. I had no idea what the doctor had meant, but in desperation and humility, her daddy was kneeling.

So Jairus, on behalf of his very sick daughter, hurried to Jesus. And right there, in front of people who knew him as a respected member of the clergy throwing decorum to the wind, humbled himself, kneeling at the Savior’s feet. Can you picture him there, his holy vestments getting soiled in the dust? Trust me, having known the feeling of being a dad with a sick daughter, that was the last thing on his mind.

Tomorrow Morning Is Waiting

So, how are your knees? Just like the men whose stories we’ve just unpacked, do you find yourself resting on them in the morning? If you do, welcome to the clan of those throughout history who have done this when they pray. If not, tomorrow morning is waiting. Kneel before your God. He deserves your humble worship. 

If you appreciated this post and think the man in your life would be blessed by daily content from Robert and other respected pastors and Christian leaders, order him a copy of the CSB Men’s Daily Bible. It invites men from every walk of life into a daily conversation with God’s Word, with the goal of becoming more like Jesus along the way. And when you order from the Revive Our Hearts store, you’re also supporting our mission of calling women around the world to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. It’s a win-win! 

About the Author

Robert Wolgemuth

Robert Wolgemuth

Robert Wolgemuth is the author of over twenty books, but has spent most of his career on the business side of the publishing industry. His credits include executive marketing and management positions in the magazine and book industry in Illinois … read more …

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