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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Wednesday, August 11

Beware of practicing your righteousness before [others]...when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret...
—Matthew 6:1a; 6a

(New English Version)

When I was a child, my parents put me through the same ritual each night. Just after bath and before stories, I would kneel by my bed for prayer. Seems almost Norman Rockwell-like in its character, but it was the real thing. We would kneel by the bed and I would say my prayers.

Years into the practice, I stopped kneeling and just crawled into bed. I suppose I was too cool to kneel. I still prayed, but with time, the prayers faded into the sleep. I would begin in earnest but the prayer would disappear as I thought about the day or as I went quickly to sleep. No matter what I did, the same old thing would happen—the prayer evaporated.    

I have started kneeling again. I keep a prayer desk in my office and kneeling not only reconnects me to the childhood memory but recalls the connection to something wider than my own life. In kneeling, I see myself among all the hosts of God, all the saints of life that have knelt in their rooms, bowed their heads, and experienced the divine.

Is it magical? Does it always make the prayer work? Do I somehow feel pious, kneeling on a prayer desk a beloved bishop gave to me? Do my prayers somehow make it up to God with lightning speed? 

Of course not. But the posture recalls and reinstalls. It makes me stop, remember, and stay on course. And as I'm finding, prayer has more to do with perseverance than anything else.    

God of all love, help me to kneel before you, in body, mind and spirit, that I might be more intentional in my prayer and more loving in my life. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.