One thing that stands out to me about the first few verses of Nehemiah 9 is the amount of physical descriptions that characterize the people’s devotion. If I put them all together, it tells us: they assembled with fasting, and in sackcloth with earth on their heads, they stood, and they stood, and they cried with a loud voice, and then the Levites stood, and said, “Stand up….” Hmm… I wonder if we are supposed to notice their posture?
I think we are, and I think that is because God knows that our posture is actually an important part of our devotion. The Scriptures suggest many postures that are meant to reflect our devotion: Sitting in prayer denotes rest; Kneeling denotes surrender; Bowing denotes honor and humility; Uplifted hands denotes praise; Prostrate on the ground denotes a posture of awe and repentance; Here in Nehemiah, standing denotes a readiness to receive instruction. The truth is that our physical posture before God influences and reflects our spiritual posture before God.
One of the problems of the Western, Post-Enlightenment thinking that has influenced the church, is that we have minimized the physical and elevated the spiritual. We have believed the lie that the physical doesn’t matter. Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am,” and we have understood him to mean, “I am what I think.” However, that just isn’t true. You are so much more than your thoughts. In fact, you are even more than a soul! You are essentially an embodied soul, and for eternity, you will be an embodied soul. In you, the physical interacts and overlaps with the spiritual.
My point for today is simply to remind you that your physical devotion matters. There is something special about entering into prayer and worship with our whole bodies. It is a declaration that I am more than my mind and that the body that was created by God matters.
So, I want to invite you to consider the posture of your worship. Your heart should influence your hands, and your hands should influence your heart. This is one of the reasons why it is helpful to lift your hands at times when you sing songs of worship to the Lord. It isn’t to show others how you feel, it is actually to remind your heart how you feel and vice versa. Maybe it is time to practice kneeling in prayer or laying face down before the Lord. Whatever you decide, try to make your physical posture compliment your spiritual posture of devotion.
Pastor Josh Rose