Kneeling in Prayer

Acts

Kneeling in Prayer

July 25th, 1976 @ 10:50 AM

Acts 20:36

And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.
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KNEELING IN PRAYER

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Acts 20:36

7-25-76    10:50 a.m.

 

We welcome you who are sharing this service with us on radio and on television.  If you would write to us, it would bless our hearts immeasurably.  I have looked forward to this moment for years and years.  I have always wanted our people to kneel when we pray.  I kneel in the pulpit, my fellow ministers kneel by my side, our deacons kneel in public intercession, but I have never been in a Baptist church in the world where the people knelt when we prayed; this morning we shall begin.  The service will be unlike any other that we shall ever conduct because I have so read through the Bible, and so outlined our response this day, that we shall kneel several times in the course of the message and the reading of God’s Word.  This is to acquaint us and to make it natural and normal for us to fall on our knees when we pray.

At the eight-fifteen service, without my saying any word, I noticed all the choir knelt.  They had to kneel on the floor.  I also noticed, to my great surprise, that all the people at the early service knelt in the balcony.  I ran out of money, and so the kneelers are only on the lower floor.  And you who are in the balcony, do not feel that you are coerced in bowing when the rest of us kneel.  If it is convenient and easy for you, kneel with us.  If it is difficult, do not feel that you must.

Now, there is an old, old hymn, a song, nobody knows where it came from.  No one knows who wrote it, but it is a song you will recognize about kneeling before the Lord.  I have written words for it, and I have changed the melody somewhat.  It has a high note in it, and I cannot reach a high note, so I just change the song.  And I have written the words for several of the prayers that we shall offer before God in the course of the reading of the Word and in the course of the service.  Now, I want to sing a stanza of the song that will give us a pattern that we shall follow as we continue in this holy and heavenly hour.  Now the song, and a pattern stanza, goes like this:

Let us praise God together, on our knees.

Let us praise God together, on our knees.

When I fall on my knees,

With my face toward the throne of grace,

O Lord in heaven, hear my plea

That is a paradigm.  It will follow after in that spirit.

Let us praise God together, on our knees.

When I fall on my knees,

With my face toward the throne of grace,

O Lord in heaven, hear my plea.

[adapted from “Let Us Break Bread Together On Our Knees”; 1927 volume, The Second Book of Negro Spirituals]

In the blessed Word of God is the story of the Shunammite woman [2 Kings 4:8-37].  The lad that she asked of the Lord sickened and died, and she came to the man of God, and fell down at his feet, pleading for the life of her boy [2 Kings 4:27-28].

In the Book of Acts, Dorcas, God’s faithful servant, died, and the widows stood by weeping and showing the coats and garments that Dorcas made [Acts 9:36-39].  And Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed [Acts 9:40].  And turning to Tabitha––that’s the Aramaic name for Dorcas, which is the Greek name for “gazelle” or “road”––and said, “Tabitha,” or “Tabitha, arise.”  And she opened her eyes, and Simon gave her his hand, and lifted her up.  And she was restored to the saints [Acts 9:41].

So our first song and prayer will be,

Let us ask God for healing on our knees.

When I fall on my knees

With my face to the throne of grace,

O Lord in heaven, hear my plea.

Let us ask God for healing on our knees, that we might be well, and that God will heal our sick and our hurt.  Would you?  The kneeler, take it in your hand and gently place it on the floor.  And now, let us kneel together.

Let us ask God for healing on our knees,

Let us ask God for healing, on our knees.

When I fall on my knees

With my face toward the throne of grace,

O Lord in heaven, hear my plea.

Our Lord, we lay before Thee our old, and our infirm, our senile, our aged.  Dear God, we lay before Thee our sick, our hurt, our stricken.  And our Master, we bring our own weak selves unto Thee.  Upon us and upon them may the Lord lay His hands of patient waiting and of divine healing.  And may God be to us “the Lord who healeth all thy diseases” [Exodus 15:26].  Humbly we ask in the name of the Great Physician [John 16:23], who bare our sicknesses and bore our infirmities [Matthew 8:17], even in the healing name of our blessed Jesus, amen.  Now we may be seated again.

Going through the Bible, when Solomon had completed the sanctuary of the Lord—a place where God said, “My name shall be there” [1 Kings 5:5], and “My house shall be called an house of prayer” [Isaiah 56:7]—when Solomon had finished the glorious and incomparable sanctuary of the Lord, he made a scaffold.  And he stood upon it and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel and prayed the incomparable dedicatory prayer in Kings and again in Chronicles [1 Kings 8:22-54; 2 Chronicles 6:12-42].

What a beautiful and precious way to dedicate the house of God, for Solomon, raised above all the people, to kneel down upon his knees and pray [1 Kings 8:54; 2 Chronicles 6:13].  You see, his father, the sweet psalmist of Israel, had written a beautiful hymn, a psalm; and in that psalm he wrote, “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.  He is our God; and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand” [Psalm 95:6-7].

No wonder when Solomon dedicated God’s house he knelt in prayer.  I suppose from the days of his childhood he had heard that song sung by his father David, “Come, O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.  For He is our God; and we are the sheep of His pasture” [Psalm 95:6-7]

Could it have been that Daniel, brought up in the marvelous revival under King Josiah [2 Chronicles 34-35], Daniel, now a slave in a foreign country, in an alien court, but loved by the king [Daniel 6:3]; and these who hated him plotted his destruction, and they said, “He lives so beautiful and virtuous and exemplary life.  We can find no fault against him except it be in the faith” [Daniel 6:4-5].  And knowing the habit of Daniel, to pray openly, publicly, where all could see him, with his windows wide open toward the throne of grace, toward the sanctuary, toward Jerusalem, they plotted and encompassed a decree that cast him into the den of lions [Daniel 6:6-9].

Did Daniel tremble?  Or was he hesitant?  Or was he afraid?  When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house, and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day and prayed, and gave thanks to God as he’d always done as he did beforehand [Daniel 6:10].  And those men assembling found Daniel praying on his knees and making supplication before his God [Daniel 6:11].  Ah, Lord!  To be like that; unashamed and unafraid.

Did you know––I hardly have time to expatiate on these things––in the bicentennial in Washington DC, I met a group of God’s people?  They were distributing tracts, and they were holding services on the streets of our capital city.  And when I found them and met them out there on a street corner, I said to them, “If I kneel in prayer, would you kneel with me?”

And the little circle of about six or seven men knelt by my side, and we joined hands, and I prayed in that moment of celebration of the two hundredth birthday of our nation.  I happened to be kneeling in front of a café owned by a Greek.  And the next time I was in that café, he drew me aside and talked to me about the Lord.  And that evening his wife sought me out and talked to me about the Lord.

And I thought, “Just a little seed by the wayside, sown unknowing,” when, there in broad daylight, on the sidewalk, I knelt and asked my brethren to kneel with me in prayer.  And Daniel, knowing of the decree, went into his house, opened his windows toward Jerusalem, kneeled down on his knees, and prayed [Daniel 6:10].

This time I want our song to be, “Let us ask God to help us on our knees, on our knees.”  Could we so bow before the Lord?

Let us ask God to help us on our knees,

Let us ask God to help us on our knees.

When I fall on my knees

with my face toward the throne of grace,

O Lord in heaven, hear my plea.

Let us thank God together on our knees,

Let us thank God together on our knees.

When I fall on my knees

with my face toward the throne of grace,

O Lord in heaven, hear my plea.

Let us worship God together on our knees,

Let us worship God together on our knees.

When I fall on my knees

with my face toward the throne of grace,

O Lord in heaven, hear my plea.

Dear Lord, You were not afraid, even before the death of crucifixion.  You did not cringe before the scoffing and the scorning of those who set Thee at naught.  Our Master, may we also follow Thee without the camp, bearing our Lord’s reproach.  May we be bold, and unashamed, and unafraid; and like Daniel, down on our knees, where maybe the whole world could see, giving thanks to God, worshipping the Lord as aforetime, believing in the strong hand of the Lord that will yet deliver His people.  In Thy great, mighty, strong, saving, keeping name, amen.

And Jesus came to Gethsemane . . .

And He was withdrawn from the disciples about a stone’s cast, and He kneeled down and prayed,

Saying, Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me; but not My will, Thine be done.

And there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him.

[Luke 22:39-43]

And our Lord kneeled down and prayed.  And in a moment we shall sing together, “Let us seek strength from heaven, on our knees, Let us seek strength from heaven, on our knees.”

And now, “And they stoned Stephen as he called upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit; and he kneeled down and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.  And when he had said this, he fell asleep” [Acts 7:59-60].  Oh, how God must help us!  Who could be like that except in the power of the Lord?  And as they stoned him, he called upon God, saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.  And he kneeled down, and cried, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.  And when he said this, he fell asleep” [Acts 7:59-60].

You see, Christians don’t die.  We don’t die.  We just fall asleep in Jesus and wake up in glory [2 Corinthians 5:8].  But oh, the spirit of Stephen, and this time we shall sing, “Let us forgive one another on our knees.”  If Stephen could do that, pray for those who were stoning him to death, Lord [Acts 7:60], give us some measure of that grace.  “Let us forgive one another on our knees.”

All right, may we bow again on our knees?  First, “Let us seek strength from heaven on our knees.”

Let us seek strength from heaven on our knees,

Let us seek strength from heaven, on our knees.

When I fall on my knees

With my face toward the throne of grace,

O Lord in heaven, hear my plea.

Let us forgive one another on our knees,

Let us forgive one another, on our knees.

When I fall on my knees

With my face toward the throne of grace,

O Lord in heaven, hear my plea.

Our Lord, the world is like this.  They render evil for evil, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.  They hate those that hate them.  And they recompense those in kind who do them wrong.  We see it among political enemies.  We see it among personal enemies.  We see it every day of our lives.

But our Master, You said it shall not be so with You.  “Love those that hate you” [Matthew 5:44], You said.  “And pray for those who despitefully use you” [Matthew 5:44], You said.  You taught us to turn the other cheek [Matthew 5:39], and to render good for evil [Matthew 5:44].  Lord, how can we do that in our own strength?  We need God’s grace.  We need help from heaven.  We need strength from above, and answering the prayer, Lord, help us never to bear a grudge, never to remember a wrong or a slight, but to overlook it, to forget it, to forgive one another on our knees.  In the name of Him who knew what it was to be hated and despised and outcast, and yet who prayed for those who crucified Him [Luke 23:34], and in the spirit of that first martyr, who, kneeling down, prayed for those who stoned him to death, and then fell asleep in the Lord [Acts 7:59-60]; in our Savior’s compassionate name, amen.

Possibly one of the most beautiful prayers in human literature is the prayer of the apostle Paul in Ephesians:  “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” [Ephesians 3:14], and then the beautiful petitions,

That we might know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that we might be filled with all the fullness of God … and unto Him be glory in the church by Jesus Christ throughout all ages, world without end.  Amen.

[Ephesians 3:19, 21]

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” [Ephesians 3:14] praying for us, that we might grow in the fullness of the stature of our blessed Savior.

And last: in the passage that you read this morning, “And when Paul had thus spoken, he kneeled down and prayed with them all” [Acts 20:36].  In the next chapter, Luke includes himself in it, “We kneeled down on the shore, and prayed” [Acts 21:5].  But in this previous,

When Paul had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.

And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him,

Sorrowing most of all for the saying that he spoke, that they should see his face no more.

[Acts 20:36-38]

This time we’re going to sing, “Let us pray for each other, on our knees”; and “Let us love one another, on our knees.”  With one other thing, when you kneel before the Lord this time, and we sing, “Let us love each other,” and, “Let us pray for each other,” I want you to touch the one next to you, or on either side of you.  You can join hands, or you can put your hand on their shoulder, but in some way, touch the one next to you as we sing, “Let us pray for each other, on our knees.”  Now may we bow?

Let us pray for each other on our knees,

Let us pray for each other on our knees.

When I fall on my knees

With my face toward the throne of grace,

O Lord in heaven, hear my plea.

Let us love one another, on our knees,

Let us love one another on our knees.

When I fall on my knees

With my face toward the throne of grace,

O Lord in heaven, hear my plea.

Let us praise God together on our knees,

Let us praise God together on our knees.

When I fall on my knees

With my face toward the throne of grace,

O Lord in heaven, hear my plea.

[from “Let us Break Bread Together,” author unknown]

And our Lord, did You not say that a church was a little colony of heaven on earth? [Matthew 18:18].  Did You not say that by this shall all men know that we are Thy disciples:  by the love we have for one for another? [John 13:35]. And did not Thy sainted apostle write, “Little children, love one another”?  [1 John 3:18]. And isn’t this the new commandment, “That ye love one another, even as I have loved you”? [John 15:12].

O Master, make it so.  Bring it to pass so that this church and this fellowship, this koinōnia, this communion, is bound by the golden chains of love to God’s altar of grace, and forgiveness, and patience, and understanding, and sympathy, and prayer; loving one another, loving Thee.  And our Master, if we know our souls, we do love Thee.  And if we know our hearts, we love this church above anything in the earth.  So bind us and seal us together, God of love, in the fellowship of the grace of Jesus our Lord.  Amen.

In a moment, we shall stand and sing our hymn of appeal.  Somebody you to give himself to Jesus; a couple, a family, or just you, in the balcony round, down one of these stairways, in the press of people on this lower floor, down one of these aisles, “Here I come, pastor.  Here I am.”  Make the decision now in your heart, and in a moment when we stand to sing, stand answering with your life.  May angels attend you in the way as you come.  May the blessing of God encourage you as you respond.  To put your life with us in this dear church, or to accept Christ as Savior [Ephesians 2:8-9], I shall be standing here, right there.  Come to me, and God bless you as you come, while we stand and while we sing.

KNEELING IN PRAYER

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Acts 20:36

7-25-76

I.          That we might be well; that God will heal our sick and our hurt(2 Kings 4:8-37, Acts 9:36-41, Exodus 15:26)

  II.         That God bless these facilities(2 Chronicles 6:13, Daniel 6:5-10)   III.        That we worship God together(Psalm 95:1-7, Hebrews 10:25)   IV.       That we love our God, our faith, our church, our country(Daniel 6:5-10)   V.        To seek strength from heaven in our hours of crisis(Luke 22:39-44)   VI.       That we be forgiving, even of our bitterest enemies(Acts 7:59-60, Matthew 5:44)   VII.      That God will strengthen us (Ephesians 3:14, 19, 21)   VIII.     That we love one another, pray for each other(Acts 20:36-38, 21:5, John 15:12)