A man on his knees in church praying with passion

Hello there my friends! In this post we will explore the question: do you have to kneel to pray? I will be approaching this question from a Catholic viewpoint.

Traditional Prayer Postures

Traditionally, yes, most Catholics would have prayed on their knees, probably. Certainly it was encouraged as pious devotion and respect towards God. You can read this in works of saints.

Standing is another traditional prayer posture, as in the Orthodox Christian tradition and the Byzantine Catholic tradition.

In the past, there seems to have been a lot more emphasis on approaching God properly with proper dress and proper posture. Actions from the laity were built into the traditional Latin Mass, so that everyone was doing the same thing together at worship.

Modern Prayer Postures

These days, there is a much more relaxed approach to all of this, at least as far as the laity go.

Many Catholics don’t pray on their knees anymore, unless they are at Mass. The Catholic Church is a lot less traditional since the great Vatican 2 council of the 1960s, and this council helped bring the Church into the 20th century.

One of the impacts of this has been that modern-day Catholics do things that perhaps our ancestors would have thought disrespectful. For instance, many modern Catholics do not dress up to go to Mass, but opt for a more smart-casual approach.

Most modern-day Catholics receive the Holy Eucharist on the hand, rather than direct into the mouth from the hand of the priest.

Another change was that since Vatican 2, most priests now face the people when they serve Mass, whereas before they faced away from the people and faced the Tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament is.

What is Church Teaching on Prayer Postures?

We are not routinely taught that we should pray on our knees anymore. In the past, instruction given to Catholics may have emphasised more of an importance to pray on our knees.

That said, it has never (so far as I am aware) been part of official Catholic teaching that Catholics SHOULD pray on their knees. It seems that there has always been freedom here.

In reality, we can pray in any posture we like, even lying on the bed, as David says in the Psalms (Psalm 63:6). We can pray whilst driving, walking, standing, sitting, or generally in any posture.

We can even pray on the toilet, as St Theresa of Avila apparently did!

The important thing is to maintain some element of respect towards God. So long as the heart has a sincere approach to God, the body should follow in maintaining a posture that is at least not disrespectful.

Kneeling Prayer is Helpful

Many Catholics still do pray to God on their knees as part of their devotion to God. This is encouraged by the Church because it is a traditional posture of respect, and ensures respect for God. But there is no obligation to do it.

Praying on our knees generally helps us focus our minds more on God. Generally speaking, we will pray better on our knees.

It is worth recalling also that the apostles in the book of Acts often pray to God on their knees, so this is an apostolic way of praying (e.g. Acts 20:36), especially for significant events.


It is important for us to make use of our bodies when we pray. This is recognised by all apostolic Christian traditions, be it Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox. This is why we do the sign of the cross.

This is also why we have the sacraments. The physical world and our physical bodies are INCLUDED and redeemed by God becoming flesh in the person of Christ. Creation is good and the material world (our bodies included) should not be excluded from prayer or the worship of God.

We are physical and fleshly creatures with souls. We have bodies, and our bodies are being saved just as our souls are. The human person is a combined unity of soul and body, not one or the other.

Therefore, we should try to approach God with all of our being. We are, after all, commanded to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.

If you’re interested in this topic, check out my other post on a similar theme.

Rosary Lovers constantly promotes the glory of Mary and her Rosary. As such, we often direct readers to this gorgeous collection of long-lasting paracord rosaries.

God bless

4 Replies to “Do You Have to Kneel to Pray?”

  1. I’ve read your post about the topic of “Do Catholics pray on their knees?” and I just had to chime in.

    As a Catholic, I can tell you from personal experience that kneeling during prayer is definitely a common practice in the Catholic Church. It’s a physical expression of humility and submission to God, and it’s considered to be a way to show reverence for the Lord. However, it’s not a strict requirement and there are certainly many other ways to show your devotion and connection to God through prayer.

    One question I have after reading the post is, do other religions also pray on their knees? It would be interesting to learn about the different ways that people around the world show their devotion to their higher power.

    Another interesting aspect of this topic is that kneeling during prayer can also be a source of comfort and solace in times of hardship. For example, when I am feeling overwhelmed or lost, I find that getting down on my knees and focusing on my connection to God helps to calm my mind and bring me a sense of peace.

    Overall, I think it’s important to remember that the way we choose to pray is a deeply personal and individual choice. Whether we kneel, sit, stand, or even lie down, what’s most important is the intention and sincerity behind our words.

    In conclusion, I believe that kneeling during prayer is an important and meaningful tradition within Catholicism, but it’s just one of many ways that we can show our devotion to God. I’m glad that this post has sparked a discussion about the topic, and I look forward to hearing more from other Rosary Lovers about their experiences and perspectives.

    1. Hey there! Thanks a lot for your thoughts. I agree entirely, beautiful stuff.

      I cannot really answer whether other religions pray on their knees because I don’t know enough about other religions.

  2. I’m not a Catholic, but this Article on Do You have to Kneel to pray is very holy and opens your thoughts 

    to Our Heavenly Father of us all. Every religion has its methods of prayer, but I see that this is God’s

     Holy ground and footstool, where ever we stand or sit, God acknowledges where we are in his Kingdom, so

    take off your shoes and Kneel to pray because everywhere is God’s Holy ground.

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