Worship 101 - Power Posing
Several weeks ago I heard Amy Cuddy give a TED Talk about Power Posing. This particular talk was about how it has been proven that powerful people stand, sit and generally posture themselves in powerful positions. These “power poses” are positions that spread the body out, making it appear larger than it is. I guess we took a cue from peacocks and blow fish and other animals who puff themselves up to scare away threats.
In her talk, Amy draws a strong connection between a person’s body posture and the amount of power or authority they project. She suggests that if you would like to be a more powerful person you can “fake it until you become it.” In other words, you can practice posing in a powerful position for two minutes each day until your mind starts to believe your body. You may think that sounds like a ridiculous idea, but I’d be lying if I said I haven’t tried standing like a super hero before heading into an intimidating situation. I would like to pause here to remind you that judging people is a sin.
One reason I found this study to be so fascinating is because it supports this truth: The position of your body can affect the position of your spirit.
When it comes to worship, both corporately and privately, we often emphasize that God looks at the heart, which is true. But changing your body posture can help change the posture of your heart. It is hard to sing “I surrender all” with much conviction with your fists clenched and your arms crossed.
The Bible directs us to use our bodies in worship. Here are several postures mentioned in Scripture:
Halal: To praise the Lord by celebrating, by dancing and shining forth, by acting clamorously foolish.
Psalm 150 “Halal ye the Lord, halal God in his sanctuary; halal Him in the firmament of His power.
Yad-ah: To praise the Lord with extended hand (yad), to throw out the hand.
Psalm 138:2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and yadah thy name.
Barak: To worship the Lord by kneeling or bowing; to humbly recognize God as the origin of all power, success, or victory.
Psalm 95:6 O Come, let us worship and bow down: Let us barak before the Lord our Maker.
Shachah: To worship by falling down, bowing, or prostrating yourself.
Psalm 5:7 But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness I will enter Your house, at Your holy temple I will shachah in reverence for You.
I want to focus in on the postures of humility for a moment.
It seems very uncommon to lay prostrate before the Lord in this day and age, but as I view worship that takes place in scripture I am overwhelmed by the amount of face down worship that is taking place. Perhaps it is impractical or not always appropriate to take this position corporately, but barring health issues, if we are taking our cues from scripture then we should all be spending some time on our faces before God in our private times of worship and prayer. Matt Redman, in his book Face Down, points out that when we take this humble position before God we are in good company.
Gen 17 – Abraham fell facedown
Num 16 – Moses fell facedown
Num 20 – Moses and Aaron fell facedown and the glory of the LORD appeared to them
Joshua 5:14 – Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence
1 Sam 24 – David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground
1 Chron 21:16 – David and the elders fell facedown
Matt 17 – the disciples fell facedown
Luke 5 – Jesus fell facedown
Acts 9 – Paul fell facedown
(If you are unable to lay prostrate because of health issues, you could modify this position of humility by laying your forehead on a table, or covering your head as a way to demonstrate that you are coming under the authority of God.)
Let’s be honest, when we draw near to God through prayer or worship our hearts are not always in a joyful, grateful, humble place. In the times when I struggle with faith, contrition, or surrender I just “fake it until I become it”. I have started kneeling and sometimes lying prostrate during times of private prayer. As I am laying with my nose pressed into our carpet, I generally remind myself that I need to vacuum and then I tell the Lord that I am going to lie here until my heart and my will match the position of my body. I don’t know how to bend my heart, but I can bend my knees. I don’t know how to change my mind, but I can change my posture. This may seem like a small, silly exercise to you, but if you give it a try I think you will find that the position of your body can play a key role in worship.
Friends, let’s enter His presence with humbled bodies and leave with humbled spirits. And since we know our true strength comes in surrendering to the Lordship of Christ, we could argue that lying prostrate before the Lord is the most powerful posture of all.