Kneeling in Prayer
Many Catholics seem to think that to pray the Rosary we must kneel. In fact, many Catholics seem to think that when we pray any prayer, especially the Our Father, we should kneel.
Now, let’s get this straight. Kneeling in prayer is a GREAT idea. It will improve your overall concentration.
But most of all, it is HIGHLY RESPECTFUL to God. It puts you immediately into a spirit of humility, which is the best way to approach God.
‘A humble and contrite heart, O God, you will never reject.’ (Psalm 51).
The Church through her priests sometimes recommends that kneeling will help us pray better. And the saints sometimes suggest in their writings that we should try to kneel when we pray, like they often did.
We also find that the apostles often kneel to pray in the New Testament. You will see this exemplified by St Paul in the book of Acts, and in Ephesians chapter 3 (‘I bow my knee to God the Father’.)
So kneeling in prayer is an excellent thing, a worthy thing to do.
Prostrations in prayer
Incidentally, it is also a very good idea to practice prostrations in prayer. Roman Catholics don’t often do this, despite how common it is in the Bible.
From start to finish in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, you will see many, many saints lying prostrate on the ground in adoration of God.
I have only ever seen this twice in the Catholic Church. Once was when I was fortunate enough to attend the ordination of a Catholic priest. He had to lie prostrate on the floor.
The other occasion was during this incredible film about the now departed Sister Clare, which I heartily suggest you watch. Sister Clare is prostrate when she is making her final vows to become a nun.
Muhammad the Islamic prophet said: ‘You are never closer to God than when you are prostrate before him.’ There is much wisdom here.
Prostrations are a very big deal in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, and in the Eastern wing of the Catholic Church. Prostrations to icons and images are a highly usual thing to witness in these traditions.
In fact, when I was chrismated (confirmed) into the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in 2019, I had to do a full prostration before an Orthodox icon of Christ.
I sometimes perform 3 prostrations a day, usually in the morning as soon as I arise. I don’t often do this, but when I do, it really sets up my soul for humility that day. It’s a very blessed way, and a very simple way, to start the day.
Sometimes when I am alone before the Holy Eucharist in Church, I will prostrate myself before my Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. This simple act stays with me all day.
However, we are not required to kneel when we pray, or to perform bodily prostrations. This is not the teaching of the Church, so far as I am aware.
So no, you do not have to kneel when praying the Rosary. You can pray the Rosary anywhere and in any position, so far as I am aware.
Yes, we will probably get more out of the Rosary if we pray it whilst kneeling, but this isn’t the daily privilege of many of us. We have to be aware of our limits, and like I said before, it isn’t required anyway.
Even St Louis de Montfort – one of THE Saints of the Rosary – said that we should either pray the Rosary whilst kneeling, standing or walking.
Again, St Louis de Montfort tells us in his amazing ‘The Secret of the Rosary’ that we can pray the Rosary whilst working, even if we cannot give proper attention to the words, because our souls know what we are praying.
So there was no fixed rule even in the minds of the saints about what posture to employ when praying the Rosary. Someone at work isn’t kneeling, walking or standing! They could be just sitting down.
These days, many of us pray the holy Rosary whilst doing all sorts: driving, showering, washing up, even in work. It is a prayer for any and every occasion of life.
Just as the Psalter of the Old Testament (the book of Psalms), the Rosary is the Psalter of the New Testament. Both the Psalms and the New Psalter of the Rosary are prayers for all of life’s occasions and times.
So don’t worry about whether to pray the Rosary on your knees, or whatever.
Goodness, sometimes I even pray it in bed! Why not? St David, the Old Testament prophet, said: ‘I remember you O Lord on my bed.’ (Psalm 63:6). Lying comfortably, with Google images of each mystery, it is very easy to meditate on the mysteries. Try it!
The last thing to say is that the Church outlines specifically what Catholics can do to get indulgences when praying the Rosary. Nowhere does the Church say that we need to be kneeling to get these indulgences.
So rest assured that you don’t need to kneel in prayer. However, it is to be encouraged!
Should you have any questions at all, feel free to get in touch via the comments below.
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 you!