By Steve Parrish, Jr., Worship Leader
Bowing before authority has been an integral part of mankind since the concept of rulers came about. The act of kneeling was a sign of submission that signified to the other party that they were the dominant and they were above the one kneeling. This practice continued into the age of kings, when subjects kneeled before their rulers in submission and acknowledgement of authority.
It’s hard for us to understand what bowing before God really means because in our culture bowing is nearly non-existent. “It was a different time then,” some may say in regards to kneeling before our King. Kneeling, however, is a sign of submission and acknowledgement of God’s authority in and around our lives. Just like those in the time of kings wouldn’t dare to not bow before their king. Why would we make exceptions for ourselves just because of the era we are in? Sure culture may have changed, but God hasn’t. His authority is unrivaled and commands the attention of all.
“It is written: "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee
will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.'"
- Romans 14:11
What Does This Have To Do With Worship?
Now, this doesn’t declare that every time we talk to God we MUST kneel or else a lightning bolt will fly from the sky and we will become smitten! Thankfully, God has this amazing thing called grace. Also, yes, times have changed. Kings are not in our every day lives anymore and we openly challenge authority almost at every chance we get; just scroll through your Facebook page and see the numerous political articles shared there. So then what does this mean as far as worship goes?
If you need a reason as to why you should bow before our God, you need look no further that Ephesians 3:
“14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
15from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be
strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—
that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Paul expresses that the need to bow is not birthed out of fear – though yes, the fear of God is very real and something we should all strive to have – but out of a desire to understand who God is. Humbling ourselves in submission, just like bowing before a king, actually helps us to understand the love of God, and if we understand the love of God we actually begin to understand and know God.
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
- 1 John 4:8
Humbling ourselves by kneeling before God forces us to push past our conceptions of God and forces us to stop and begin to see who God really is. When we begin to see and understand who God is, we can begin to align ourselves with him and with His desires. In doing so, our very beings begin to change to reflect who God is and we can begin to see His plans and call on our lives and begin the process of seeing the Kingdom of Heaven come into fruition here on earth.
Connecting the Dots
Worship is an act that brings glory to God. Kneeling is a sign of submission to authority. So in essence, we bow before Him because we recognize the power and authority of the God that we serve which in turn glorifies Him. Bowing before God should be used to align yourself with Him, for when you are kneeling in submission to the authority He has, it forces you to focus only on Him.
Sometimes, when worshiping God, bowing is an involuntary response to encountering His presence. We see in the Old Testament that only one person was allowed into His presence in the tabernacle’s Most Holy Place because it was so strong and overwhelming that it would kill those unqualified upon entering. Thankfully, the death and resurrection of Jesus allows us to encounter God without dying on the spot, but there is something undeniable about the power of God’s presence. The Bible talks about how even the mountains can’t stand in His presence:
“3For behold, the LORD is coming out of his place,
and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth.
4And the mountains will melt under him,
and the valleys will split open,
like wax before the fire,
like waters poured down a steep place.”
- Micah 1:3-4
Bowing down before God, glorifies who He is. It places Him above ourselves and allows us to retain a humble heart. By kneeling, we submit to the authority He has over our lives and we invite the opportunity for us to begin aligning our hearts with His, for it is His desire for everyone to know the love of God and in turn know Him.