Posture in Worship

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Churches can generally be categorized as “truth oriented” or as “feelings oriented.” It would be fair to rank our churches as among the former, but one of the temptations faced by such truth oriented churches is that of sliding into thinking that this means “brain oriented” churches. But the truth is for the whole man. The truth includes propositions to be believed, but is not limited to that. Jesus is the Truth. The truth therefore exercises authority over the whole body, and not just over our brains. Too many Reformed churches think that God gave us our bodies so that we might have a carrying case to help us get our brains to church. We want to lean against this tendency.

So in our churches, you will perhaps encounter some different postures of the body that may be unusual for you, depending on your background. For example, among these postures we might include kneeling or raising the hands in praise. If you grew up in a charismatic church where raising the hands was common, it is not likely that you knelt in any part of the service. And if you grew up in a liturgical church where you knelt, then it is likely there was no raising of the hands. We do both, but not because we want to be confusing.

In CREC churches, there are four basic symbolic postures. We kneel during the confession of sin. We stand while the Scriptures are being read. We sit during the Lord’s Supper. And we raise our hands together in the final doxology.


In Scripture, kneeling is a posture of humility before God (Ps. 95:6). Standing is an indication of respect, the kind of respect we want to show while God’s Word is being read (Neh. 9:3). Sitting is an appropriate posture for sitting at the Lord’s Table (Luke 22:30). We are kings and priests on the earth, and this is where we take counsel together. And we want to lift holy hands together in doxological praise at the conclusion of the service (1 Tim. 2:8). This raising of the hands is a bit different than it is in charismatic churches, where it serves as an expression of individual or private devotion. When we do it, it is all together, and it serves as an expression of corporate praise.

In short, we want to present our bodies to the Lord in worship, and we want to remind ourselves that we are doing so. This presentation of our bodies is part of our spiritual worship (Rom. 12:1-2).

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